In the not-too-distant future of Sunshine, the sun is dying. (Yeah, that sun.) So an eight-member crew of the spaceship Icarus II has been tasked with flying extremely close to the sun and jump-starting the sun’s power with a detonation “payload.”
Why is their ship is called Icarus II, you ask? Because Icarus I failed the same mission seven years ago – lost in space, it seemed. But out of nowhere, Icarus II receives a distress signal from Icarus I, who not only has oxygen to spare but also still carries their “payload.”
The dilemma for Icarus II: Stay on course and complete their mission as planned, or save Icarus I's crew (if anyone’s even alive) and use their payload to double up Icarus II’s firepower? After a devastating accident kills Icarus II’s captain and depletes their oxygen supply, their decision is made for them: They must rendezvous with Icarus I. What they find (and what happens) once they board Icarus I puts their mission and their lives in jeopardy.
Sunshine is a potent combo of several genres: sci-fi, thriller, and drama. It moves at a methodical pace – just when you wish the story would move forward, it does. The most memorable and impactful scenes are also the most wrenching, usually involving the fate of one or more of Icarus II’s crew members. The film also does a commendable job of creating the same overpowering feelings of paranoia, isolation, and helplessness seen in 2001 and Alien.
So, did Murphy deliver for me like he’s done in the past? Yes, mostly. He’s done stronger work, but his performance here is solid and sympathetic. As part of an ensemble, he’s not supposed to stick out, and he doesn’t – for which he should be acknowledged.
On a side note: If you were planning to fly a spaceship really close to the sun, why in the world would you name it the Icarus – especially the way that story ended? Didn’t the music of Iron Maiden teach us anything?
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5).
Will your kids want to watch it?Based on the ads and DVD artwork, Sunshine looks like a tame space adventure about kick-starting the sun. But it’s rated R for good reason: There’s a fair share of adult language, several bloody stabbings, and a few graphic scenes of what overexposure to the sun’s heat and the cold of space can do to the human body.
Will your FilmMother want to watch it?Sunshine is a solid film experience that doesn’t disappoint, though it may depress at times. Whether your FilmMother will like Sunshine depends on if she’s open to being bummed a little by a movie. That being said, there are some strong performances, impressive special effects, and a larger, more earnest theme that overrides a few spots of sadness.
* Director: Danny Boyle
* Screenwriter: Alex Garland
* Stars: Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Chris Evans, Hiroyuki Sanada, Cliff Curtis
* MPAA Rating: R (violent content, adult language)
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