Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I'm taking a quick break from reviewing Fantasia films to talk about Sunshine. Same basic type of film, but, hey, this one's actually in widening release, and deserves some word of mouth. Still, for more Fantasia stuff, I've reviewed through Monday and Tuesday, adding EFC/HBS reviews for Aachi & Ssipak, Jade Warrior, Minushi, and Exte: Hair Extensions. Today (Tuesday) is the last day, so now it's all playing catch-up with the dozen or so films I have left.

Anyway, I loved this movie, and was gratified to see that Matt and his girlfriend Morgan did too. It initially had a vibe of being "just for me", in that it seemed to zero in on the things I, in particular, like and sometimes complain about not seeing in science fiction movies.


* * * * (out of four)
Seen 22 July 2007 at Landmark Kendall Square #1 (first-run)

Sunshine is a real treat - a great big special-effects laden adventure movie that at no point asks the audience to turn its brain off. That doesn't make it inaccessible - to the contrary, it means that there are more ways for the audience to enjoy it.

We start off in media res, with the dubiously-named spaceship Icarus II already a year and a half into its journey to the Sun's south pole, where they will launch a bomb the size of Manhattan into the heart of our nearest star, hoping to give it a needed jump-start. Already, nevers are becoming a bit frayed - Dr. Searle (Cliff Curtis), the man in charge of the the crew's physical and mental health, is addicted to viewing the sun with as little filtering as possible, and trying to get Captain Kaneda (Hiroyuki Sanada) to join in; physicist/payload specialist Capa (Cillian Murphy) and computer tech Mace (Chris Evans) have just come to blows, likely in part over one of the only two women in the crew, pilot Cassie (Rose Byrne). The other woman is Corazon (Michelle Yeoh), in charge of the ship's oxygen garden; also on board are communications officer Harvey (Troy Garity) and navigator Trey (Benedict Wong). Aside from needing to blow off a little steam, the mission is going well, at least until they receive a signal from Icarus I, which disappeared seven years earlier. Mace insists they continue with the mission as planned; Capa says attempting to recover the ship's payload is worth the risk. Agreeing that two last hopes are better than one, Kaneda follows Capa's advice. And, of course, all hell breaks loose.

Director Danny Boyle and Writer Alex Garland (who previously teamed on 28 Days Later) throw us into a very cool environment right off; the first shot of the film appears to be the sun but is actually the massive set of heat shields/solar panels that covers the ship; when we look behind that, we see a rotating skeleton that reminds us more of the present-day International Space Station than the sleek, fighter-jet-modeled ships that frequently populate the movies. It's one of my favorite movie spaceships ever. Garland, Boyle, and the art department sweat more details than the average sci-fi film, things like approaching the sun at a pole rather than head-on, although they are smart enough to not dump a whole lot of science adviser Dr. Brian Cox told them into the script; they just paid heed. Sure, sometimes the pseudo-gravity doesn't seem to be lined up with thrust or spin, but we always get the feeling that this is an environment with rules and limits.

Full review at EFC.

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