Sunshine - A Journey to Avoid Human Extiction

                       When talking about apocalypse, some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. Danny Boyle's sci-fi/thriller, "Sunshine" (2007) postulates a serious question to consider the theory of ice. It asks, what if the Sun burns out, so that the the Earth descends into a frozen darkness? What happens if  a spacecraft embarks on a journey to reignite the sun, with a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan?

                         Sci-fi movies, recently, have become predominately entertaining, which could be called as 'space operas.' Many fans of the genre have long deplored the absence of real "science" in "science fiction." Like Kubrick's '2001: Space Odyssey', Sunshine tries to take a step back toward reality. The movie credits a science consultant, and the filmmakers made every effort to follow his suggestions. “Sunshine” represents warmth, happiness, and comfort, but throughout the film it is intense, all-consuming, and potentially deadly.

         In the year 2057, approximately five billion years ahead of schedule, the sun is beginning to die. In a desperate effort to save mankind, scientists hatch a plan to essentially reignite the sun with a gigantic nuclear bomb delivered via spaceship. The earth's resources are marshaled in building two spaceships to fix the great problem. Seven years earlier, Icarus I have failed in its mission. So, Icarus II is earth's last hope. 

             Icarus II has a multinational space crew led by captain Kaneda (Hiroyuki Sanada). Among the crew is pilot Cassie (Rose Byrne), communications officer Harvey (Troy Garity), physicist Capa (Cillian Murphy), engineer Mace (Chris Evans), botanist Corazon (Michelle Yeoh), doctor Searle (Cliff Curtis) and navigator Trey (Benedict Wong). The mission runs an unforeseen remification when they receive transmissions that appear to be coming from the Icarus I. It is very doubtful that they could have all survived, after seven years, but the crew decide to venture off course (still close to the sun) to check it out. That's a  fatal mistake, which makes both Icarus II and its crew fall apart slowly.

                  For the claustrophobia of spaceship living, Danny Boyle has clearly stuck close to Ridley Scott's 'Alien.' But, unlike 'Alien' there is no monster hiding in the cupboard, instead he has employed the provider of all life as our ultimate enemy. It's so clever a idea  that Boyle ultimately stumbles a little in trying to deliver a conclusion that satisfactorily lives up to his bold set-up. Except the movie's final 30 minutes, Danny Boyle offers a gripping adventure yarn in the man-versus-nature category. Boyle's Trainspotting spoke to '90s alienation and 28 Days Later to post-9/11 anxiety, Sunshine befits a climate where the possibility of ecological apocalypse is no longer a science fiction. 

                 Screenwriter Alex Garland and Boyle are effective in setting up the premise, the characters and the underlying tensions without overburdening viewers with lots of expository dialogue and as things progress, they display an equal care and attention to both the tension special-effects set-pieces (especially the ill-fated shield repair sequence) and the smaller, character-driven scenes. Although the budget is not that big (£26,000,000, estimated) for a sci-fi film, Boyle turns Sunshine into a visually striking film that uses the expected elements of the genre to create memorable, sometimes mesmerizing images. 

                 Cillian Murphy heads an international cast, which includes Michelle Yeoh and Chris Evans (Captain America, Fantastic Four). As a physicist, Murphy brings his usual flurrying, blue-eyed intensity to the role of Capa, the only crew member capable of undertaking the complex task of activating the stellar bomb. Chris Evans gives a solid performance as the hotheaded engineer and the rest of the cast (Bryne, Hiroyuki Sanada) turns in a low-key performance.  

                  The ubiquity of the sun, both visually and thematically, remains the film's foundation, and light is manipulated every way imaginable. Even though we don't see our planet until the film's final frames, the continued existence of humankind is what truly hangs in the balance, which makes every action one of dire importance. The third act steers away 'Sunshine' from mystery to a place far more familiar. Towards the climax, the movie is plagued with redundancy and cheap thrills—yet the movie never feels stupid. Boyle plays it safe in these last minutes and doesn't challenge himself further with a complicated and neutral conclusion. 

                  "Sunshine" -- despite few flaws -- is engrossing, believable and intelligent sci-fi film-making at its best.

Sunshine - IMDb 


vinay said...

Yet to watch.
Good review as always. :)

Unknown said...

I liked the movie a lot, but that music in the background was really scary, It kind of creates a hollow in the heart.

Meoww said...

I saw this movie. Good one to watch too :)

Shareef S M A said...

quite a good sci fi thriller.. but underrated for sure..

Arun Kumar said...

@Vinay, Thanks for the comment.

@Khushbu Verma, Thanks for the comment. Keep visiting.

@Meoww, Thanks for the comment.

@Shareef, Thank you. Keep visiting the blog.