Visually stunning, well acted, masterfully directed, yet border line offensive in its supposed logic concerning faith and its place in the universe, Sunshine could have been quite the illuminating piece of cinema had it not rested upon its fear and misconceptions about the religious.
The movie is set in the year 2057, and mankind is facing extinction due to the sun not generating enough heat and light, thanks to a sizeable amount of dark matter draining its energy. A team of astronauts (among them Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, and Cillian Murphy) venture to the sun in the Icarus II, with orders to drop a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan ,which should destroy the dark matter and bring the sun back to its full capacity.
Along the way the crew receive a distress signal from the first Icarus craft which disappeared mid mission. In true sci-fi fashion their decision to investigate proves to be disastrous, and excruciating choices are made – often at the expense of human life – to deliver their “payload” and save humanity.
Sunshine is a film which shamelessly wears its influences, namely Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ridley Scott’s Alien, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are going to steal, might as well do it from the best.
Director Danny Boyle has crafted an extremely well paced film, which features heart thumping thrills at the right moments, breathing room for human drama between its weary inhabitants, and awe inspiring beauty in its depiction of the wondrous universe which surrounds the Icarus II as it ventures towards the sun.
However, an unexpected turn into the truly worn out slasher film in space sub-genre confuses in its final act, and also disturbed this viewer with it atheistic philosophical leanings, but more on that later.
A great cast of international character actors put on bravura performances, and the visual effects are simply stunning, an impressive feat considering the films budget was a modest $50 million (U.S.), which is sure to put a crawl up the butt of the producers of over bloated SFX films (re: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End) who have a budget of $150 - $300 million, and don’t even come close to the effects seen in this film.
Also, the films equally eerie and energetic score (a creation of UK dance act Underworld and film composer John Murphy) provides the ambience needed for such a film to be effective.
Now back to the films philosophical stance. This viewer was not a big fan of the atheistic undertones splattered throughout the movie, especially in its generic final act.
Atheists Garland and Boyle (who have seemingly converted actor Cillian Murphy during filming) make no qualms expressing their views on science and religion, namely: science will ultimately triumph over faith, and that the faithful are nothing more than fanatics who will bring about the destruction of the world.
It reeks of the pseudo-scientific ramblings of Richard Dawkins and the like, and marred what was an insightful and entertaining (if not clichéd) film.