Sunshine is a weird movie in the sense that it feels like a lot of other movies, but it’s not exactly like said movies.
Sometime in the future the sun is dying and a team of the best and brightest are dispatched deep into outer space to pretty much restart the sun. It takes them a long time to get there and a long time to get back, and from the start of the film you’re pretty much clued into the fact that they’re all going a little stir-crazy. The biologist lady played by Michelle Yeoh, for example, is way too attached to her plants. The other people on board seem to be fairly homesick and cooped up.
You soon find out that this is not the first mission to the sun; there was another that vanished into space, never to be heard from again. (Are we feeling a little like we’re watching Event Horizon? Yeah, me too.) The new Icarus II crew stumbles upon the old Icarus I vessel, but not without a few accidents claiming the lives of various crew members. Once aboard, they discover some seriously freaky stuff. Layers of dust are piling up all over the ship and what should be a fully operational vessel isn’t operational at all. Even more disconcerting is the fact that they can’t find the crew…and when they do, they all sat themselves in front of the window facing the sun and pulled up the blinds. They’re a bit toasty, to say the least.
A couple more people die and some of the crew manage to get back on board the Icarus II after a bad airlock accident, but someone from the old crew who didn’t deep-fry themselves in the solar observation room climbs on board the new vessel. (Paging Sam Neill…)
This is a crew obsessed with achieving their mission at any cost for the sake of every human on earth. With the exception of physicist Capa, we never see anyone they’re connected to on Earth. Is it to reinforce the feeling of claustrophobia and utter solitude you experience in space? I wouldn’t doubt it. For people who are self-sacrificing themselves in the most maximum sense of the term, it’s hard to appreciate what they’re shedding. These people are giving up what makes them human in a way — the ability to empathize and a total rejection of the structure ‘civilized society’ has given them — to save the planet at all possible costs, yet you never see anything giving them a real reason to save the planet.
The effects shots are gorgeous. You can tell Danny Boyle had a fair penny spent on effects and it was well worth it; the sets are well designed. Everyone turns in a capable performance, especially Chris Evans, who I had really only ever seen as The Human Torch in the godawful Fantastic Four movies.
My only real problem with the movie is that it feels a bit hollow. It’s a little hard to get behind the crew, and the stranger on board the Icarus II is annoying to watch because Mr. Boyle somehow insisted on freakishly blurring the edges of the frame every time the mysterious crew member popped up.
All in all, though, even if it does smack a bit of other sci-fi movies set in space, I liked it well enough. Like I’ve pointed out, I kept feeling as if I were having odd moments of deja vu to Event Horizon. It was well worth the rental.
As far as my random noticings of the film go, would it kill Cillian Murphy to eat? I spent half the movie afraid he was going to break in half. They’re called carbohydrates, Cillian. They won’t kill you, but they will stop your ribs from being visible. My god, man. Have you no decency?