Starring: Chris Evans, Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne
Director: Danny Boyle
Running Time: 107 mins
Sunshine is an American film about the crew of the Icarus II, a mission dispatched to launch a bomb towards the Sun in order to reignite its light, and provide hope for Earth, gradually wasting away in its star’s increasingly dim rays.
Building on the legacy of a number of sci-fi classics, Sunshine delivers exhilarating genre thrills with spectacular visual effects, gripping drama and impressive performances across the board. Its story can be a little far-fetched at times, but its intensity and pacing make it an edge-of-your-seat watch regardless.
Let’s start with the parallels to some classics of sci-fi. Make no mistake, there’s a lot about Sunshine that you’ve seen before, with nods to the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris and Alien throughout. All three of those are excellent film, and Sunshine does an excellent job at using them as inspiration for this new story.
The big difference, however, is that this film has a bumper load of modern, 21st century visual effects to play with. And that’s why it looks absolutely spectacular.
Following a space crew approaching the Sun, the film is entirely convincing in establishing its location, with a vivid portrayal (I’m not sure how realistic) of the harsh, awesome power of the heart of the solar system.
The CGI is magnificent here, and it goes a long way to pulling you deep into the story, creating a dazzling image of what life is like on approach towards the Sun, which plays into the progression of an ambitious mission that begins to unravel in dramatic fashion.
Blending impressive action with moments of quiet introspection, Sunshine isn’t just another space blockbuster, but rather one which uses strong character depth to heighten the stakes, and therefore make the action sequences all the more meaningful and exciting.
The performances only add to the gripping intensity of the film, with an enthralling dynamic between the members of the crew, featuring a tension that seems to teeter on the edge of all-out chaos, potentially jeopardising the entire mission.
Throughout, you swing back and forth between which crew members you support and which you don’t, a clever narrative tactic employed by screenwriter Alex Garland to add a closer, emotional level of tension to proceedings.
Director Danny Boyle then brings all of this together into a fast-paced, intense and visually spectacular rollercoaster of a film. There are parts of Sunshine – particularly the third act – which do go a little far if you interpret them in a certain way, but it remains a thoroughly captivating watch from start to finish. So, that’s why I’m giving Sunshine an 8.0 overall.