I have a fond and biased memory of SUNSHINE because as a film moderator I was hired by FOX Searchlight to conduct a Q&A with Danny Boyle and Chris Evans at a special pre-release screening of it. So I saw the film a few times and really dug deep for my questions. The Q&A went rather well and Danny Boyle complimented me afterwards for asking some non-typical and well-researched questions.
I liked the film then and after not seeing it for over 5 years I still like it. It’s a mature science-fiction film that deals with some heady themes and even though it goes a little off the deep end in the third act, it still is a satisfying voyage.
Taking place in the not to distance future, we have discovered that the sun is dying and if we can’t fix it than it will mean the end of mankind and all life on Earth. Massive ships have been assembled with a bomb than could in theory give the star a much needed kick start, but the first mission failed.
The ICARUS II is launched with an international crew and they are Earth’s last hope. Along the way the operation begins to unravel and after an accident that puts the world’s fate in jeopardy occurs they turn on each other.
Making matters more complicated, they receive a signal from the ICARUS I when they are at their lowest. It could mean a renewed chance of success or lead to complete mission failure.
A slow burn sci-fi film in the vein of 2001 and SOLARIS, SUNSHINE like them has an incredible authenticity to the milieu. Regardless of whether you accept the fact that mankind could actually build a device that could restart a star is inconsequential, because Boyle does a great job making you believe they can.
The cast is strong with the ICARUS II crew consisting of the likes of Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Hiroyuki Sanada and Cliff Curtis.
A complaint levied on the film is that the 3rd act turns into a horror movie like HELLRAISER or most notably EVENT HORIZON. And I won’t argue that this is a tad problematic and comes a little out of left field. But it’s a fascinating aspect and makes SUNSHINE a unique curiosity. The explanation why the “sun-demon” exists is never sufficiently explained, but I’m of the mindset that everything doesn’t need to be explained especially when you are dealing with the unknown.
If you enjoy science fiction that challenges you and makes you think and consider about the bigger picture than SUNSHINE is worth a look. It’s an exceptionally well-crafted film and draws you in with wonder and drags you in the rest of the way with suspense and terror.
On a lighter note, I thought I might share this funny anecdote about the Q&A. At the end I asked Danny Boyle what he was working on next and he went on to regale the audience about a film he was developing about the true-life story of a poor Indian boy who went on Jeopardy to win the love a girl.
I hate to admit it, but the thought that went through my head was a sarcastic “Good luck with that.”
Of course, you’ll recognize that the film would ultimately become SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and capture the hearts of the world as well as yours truly.