Sunshine is a science fiction adventure thriller that focuses on a team of astronauts in the future (2057) that are assigned to re-ignite the sun that has since almost died on them. So with the small team, tensions rise and suspense thicken among them as they near the sun and suffer unexpected difficulties with their ship. The film stars a fairly large cast with Cillian Murphey, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, Chipo Chung, and Mark Strong. Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later…, Slumdog Millionaire) and written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later…, Never Let Me Go, Dredd). (Running Time: 107 minutes)(Rated R for violent content and language)
To make a clarification before this post is typed, Danny Boyle is a director who hones in on intensity. I love movies that successfully capture that powerful emotional conflict within such tight spaces–especially on a spaceship! 2001: A Space Odyssey set up the visual manual that was offered in this thriller, but it has the same claustrophobia that the Alien franchise opened up.
During the first, oh, ten minutes of the movie, I was caught off guard by the tenderness of the characters and their cooperation in space. It presented a reasonably realistic design for a space shuttle that would have been traveling for over fourteen months. That pre-designated tension and interest provided to already say that we would not be in for the typical space film. It almost seemed to say that, We are not going to do big space battles with ships blowing up, Or explore galaxies far and away, But we are going to show you a story that could happen to earth years and years into the future. A curious, clever aspect to open a film up.
But that is just the opening. It changes pretty quickly afterwards, once you get into the mission of the space crew. The “action” builds and characters are put to the test, and that is the point of no return–of course.
The acting was strong. Definitely strong. Although a large cast, these actors–at least at the time when the film was made–were no superstars or hugely marketable names. However, they bend to show us a direct, desperate performance. All of them, to be honest. Some may have less lines than others, but nevertheless reflect a positive aroma to the rest of film. And without giving any spoilers, Mark Strong’s part was very minimal, but also confusing. It was that cameo that just…didn’t make a whole lot of sense. It could have been rewritten somehow. I have no proposal I would publicly display for this post, but there could have been something different.
…But I am enjoying Cillian Murphey more and more these days. He has a subtle yet interestingly outstanding quality to his persona that I just can’t describe. I look forward to seeing him in new, more challenging roles. He seems to be a man who looks forward to those dares.
Although I did not care for Slumdog Millionaire’s…eh, tone and feel, Danny Boyle has fascinated me with 127 Hours (2010). Coming from a theater background, he knows how to inspire actors and make them feel the fear and tension of a tale such as this. I don’t know how it works, but it soars.
I read that the script went through over thirty-five drafts. Originally, Alex Garland had strong elements and character discussions about God and creation, but Mr. Boyle decided to downplay this emphasis and primarily look to the characters’ feelings of the mission and the elements around the sun. In the end, it succeeded. I would have been curious to see how the God and creation factors would have played out, but I reckon countless things changed from the first draft to the thirty-fifth. Gracious…
Oh! Also great musical score! Minimalist and very few notes that you just don’t forget! Makes the movie more and more of a powerhouse. I don’t know how else to describe it to you.
The film had a healthy budget of $40 million, but only managed to gross a little over $32 at the box office, making audiences and critics to pan the film as an underrated flop. The filmmakers concluded that the themes the movie offered were harsher and more gritty than other space movies of the last twenty years. It received good critical reception, but was unable to achieve any large or significant award nominations when the season came around.
In the long run, a firm 4 out of 7 stars. I was impressed with the movie in a different way than I expected to see it as. Or at least, I was impressed by the way the intensity and characters were presented uniquely. The film is at times tight and unavoidably closed-in spaces that you just can’t escape from. It’s a survival story, not for everyone. People contemplate dozens of notions and wishes that can push the audience to a new corner edge of their seat.
Watch at your own risk, but its a quick-paced ride that you won’t forget anytime soon.