Fifty years into the future, the sun is dying, and Earth is threatened by arctic temperatures. A team of astronauts is sent to revive the Sun — but the mission fails. Seven years later, a new team is sent to finish the mission as mankind’s last hope.
Thought-Provoking and Engaging Science Fiction Symphony
Danny Boyle did commendably with his earlier apocalyptic undertaking 28 Days Later, delivering a visually successful and atmospherically involving doomsday ride filled with gory thrills and appropriate apocalyptic gloom. In essence, though, that film was not all too clearly distinguishable from the mediocrity-filled zombie-genre, adding hardly any substance to the early 21st century bloom of end-of-days -cinema.
Sunshine, on the other hand, moves along an intriguing ideological thread that becomes apparent in various forms through the film's characters in their struggle to save the humanity from destruction - here, of course "humanity" is not only made to refer to the human race.
It seems to be rather natural to reduce the thematic nexus into an inquiry of the existence of God, which seems to offer a rather great deal of intrigue in the Science Fiction setting, but the theme can also be directed towards an inquiry of the mystical in human experience and the pursuit of the human mind beyond the scientific and established. The great and powerful life-giving Sun and its dazzling shine serves as an interesting point of division in its effect on the diverse crew members. This is probably clearest in the crew members, who, in the middle of their great errand, seek for greater understanding in the visual experience of greater solar radiance.
Speaking of visual experience, Sunshine is mostly captivating in that respect. One can, for instance, imagine oneself sitting with the characters and witnessing Mercury, the herald, peacefully sailing across a broad view of Sun's corona. Later, we are brought to wonder, whether the messenger of the Gods brings good tidings or not. Similar ambiguity of the aesthetic is also cleverly scattered elsewhere. Overall, there is much beauty everywhere: the spaceship architecture, for example, provides great visual entertainment.
Cillian Murphy manages to carry out the role of a heroic physicist rather well, becoming better and better towards the end, the increased acting being a part of character development. The rest of the crew is given adequate time to represent their personalities, making most of them interesting, some only on the surface though. As expected, characters decrease as the story develops, creating a good mix between a space thriller and a more "actual" starship adventure.
It is always gratifying to see a Science Fiction adventure story with a reasonable amount of actual science in it. In addition, the film is provocative, visually engaging, thrilling and ultimately rewarding. Impressive work.