Sunshine (Review)

Flying too close to the sun...

“Sunshine” is a gorgeous and engrossing hard sci-fi film by Danny Boyle, who proves yet again that he is one of the most diverse directors working in Hollywood.  With a well-conceived plot about a team of scientists attempting to essentially jump-start the sun (due to its showing signs of fatigue, which could mean the end of humanity), Boyle pays homage to previous sci-fi masterpieces without feeling as if he is ripping them off or descending into formulaic genre filmmaking.  He also does a great job of placing much of the focus on the characters and their relationships (at least initially), crafting a film that is every bit as emotionally captivating as it is visually stunning.

Cillian Murphy feeling the rays up close and personal

The hypnotic visuals and sharp cinematography work wonders, particularly in the sequences depicting the characters’ quasi-religious obsession with basking in the sight and the heat of the sun at a close distance.  There are also some very unique camera techniques used in the final act, translating the feeling of pulsing heat waves into a visual artistic style as a means of obscuring and disorienting the viewer in specific instances.  The cast is also quite solid, with Cillian Murphy standing out thanks to a wonderfully vulnerable performance in the lead, and Chris Evans demonstrating some fine acting chops in his secondary role which ends up holding quite a bit of emotional weight by the end.  Mark Strong is also very effective in a surprising and unrecognizable role.

The film does have a somewhat flawed final act which takes an unexpected turn in more of a slasher/horror direction – a shift that felt jarring but was not entirely unwelcomed for me, since the film had done such a great job of crafting an ambiguous feeling of dread for the majority of its runtime that I felt it benefited from having an actual villain to deliver the payoff after all the growing suspense. Despite its minor flaws, “Sunshine” is a shining example of the sci-fi genre’s capacity for strong character-driven films as opposed to the empty CGI-drenched garbage that has become more apparent in recent years (see: Battle: Los Angeles, Skyline).  The only question that remains after the credits roll: is there anything Danny Boyle can’t do?

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Sunshine (2007, UK, R: 107 mins) Directed by: Danny Boyle.  Starring: Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rose Byrne, Troy Garity, and Mark Strong.


~ by Mark D'Amico on August 8, 2011.

One Response to “Sunshine (Review)”

  1. You are way too generous with this film; it’s marred with predictable outcomes — I hate how all of the characters are taken down by their neuroses. Interesting concept, weak story and Danny Boyle resorts to emotionally manipulating the audience in order to get a desired effect. It made me so angry when I saw it.

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