|Directed by:||Danny Boyle|
|Written by:||Alex Garland|
|Cast:||Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity, Cillian Murphy, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh|
|Studio:||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
Let me start off by saying I really like Armageddon. Yes, its gung-ho patriottism makes me roll my eyes more than once, but overall I think it is an extremely effective action movie. Even The Core is something of a guilty pleasure of mine. I say this because Sunshine pretty much has the same premise as those two movies. All three feature an apocalyptic catastrophe, a group of astronauts carrying big bombs, and have Murphy’s Law along for the ride. What differs Danny Boyle’s Sunshine most of all however, is that it doesn’t focus so much on solving the problem at hand, as it does on its characters, who are exposed to the most extreme circumstances and the most difficult choices, and who each deal with these in their own way.
This focus on character is helped enormously by Boyle’s choice not to cast any big names and to have the entire movie revolve around only the eight people on board the Icarus II. Another smart move is to have the movie start 16 months into the mission already, as the ship has just crossed the point where communication with Earth has become impossible and crew members are starting to crack under the pressure. No tearjerky goodbye messages to Liv Tyler here, folks. When a character dies, he dies a looong way from home.
Director Danny Boyle has never limited himself to one genre, and in this film he combines science fiction, psychological thriller and horror, and shoots it all in a very kinetic, visually inspired style. One of the best scenes of the film, where the crew is examining a ship, looks like it was edited by Tyler Durden (you’ll know what I mean when you see it), with a most unsettling effect. The movie is full of very effective visual inventions, and also features some truly impressive visual effects, especially of the Sun.
Unfortunately around the 75-minute mark there’s a twist I didn’t much care for, mostly because the resulting scenes looked like they belonged in a different movie. This is too bad, because Sunshine is a great film for the rest. It takes a ‘been there, done that’-premise, but surpasses it with its distinguishing visual style and focus on characters under extreme pressure. Armageddon-haters shouldn’t be afraid of Sunshine. It is a solid, fast-paced and visual sci-fi actioner, filled with memorable scenes. So far, this is the best film I’ve seen all year.