You're in for a special treat today because I've got not one, not three, but two! reviews for Sunshine. I saw this science fiction thriller during the weekend with my dear old dad and he was kind enough to provide me with his own review of the movie.
I'll post the big guy's review first and mine will come up next (scroll up to find it). Please share the love by posting any compliments/fawning admiration you might feel compelled to express. After all, he has to put up with me every day.
by The Spoon's Dad
Mix in small portions of several classic science fiction movies such as a 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, Armageddon (OK, not so classic), an excellent cast of crew members, scorching special effects with a dose of philosophy, psychology and biology (pretty much your undergraduate core courses) and you have the latest science fiction mis-titled adventure movie – Sunshine (more on this later).
The movie begins aboard the spaceship Icarus II on a voyage to the sun, 50 years in the future. The mission of the eight-member crew is to detonate a device the size of Manhattan into the dying sun in order to re-ignite a new star and thus save mankind.
The special effects shine early in the movie with a fantastic screen-filling image of the sun and a brief scene depicting the dark planet Mercury in the foreground passing across the brightly-lit sun in the background. The crew members along with the movie audience are clearly mesmerized by the beauty and power of the celestial images.
The mission is complicated by the unexpected discovery of Icarus I – the predecessor to Icarus II – long presumed to have been destroyed attempting to detonate a similar device over six years earlier. The discovery of the Icarus I presents the first of several fundamental obstacles and decisions faced by the crew as a whole and by crew members individually.
The strength of Sunshine is in the tension-building manner the obstacles are presented and the decision making of the crew. Some decisions are democratic, others autocratic; some for the good of mankind, others self-serving. Most decisions need to be made instantly with the consequences dire. The crew members clearly understand the gravity of their situation and each must cope with the realization they may not survive the mission let alone the next moment.
Speaking of cast members – they are excellent. Cillian Murphy (Red Eye, Batman Begins) is the physicist responsible for detonating the device and he plays the role in an effective understated manner. Cliff Curtis (Fracture, The Fountain) is the onboard psychologist who has clearly been issued less than full strength sunscreen. Michelle Yeoh (Memoirs of a Geisha, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) is the biologist who shows little emotion except when her plants get toasted. My favorite character is Chris Evans (Fantastic Four) who plays the crewmember I would take along if I were ever asked to save the earth, the whales or anything that requires some kick-ass effort.
There are only two weaknesses with the movie and both represent misdirected marketing opportunities. The first involves the unexpected and unnecessary twist of gore (slash) horror and the second is the title of the movie itself. The gore/horror element with a slightly modified marketing strategy could have brought in the slasher crowd for a bigger payday at the box office. Secondly, the title Sunshine implies brightness and cheerfulness - again attracting the wrong demographics. The mood and sets in Sunshine are quite dark as befits any earth saving mission and as I looked around I was relieved to see no Little Miss Sunshines in the audience (by the way I think it would have been fun to title the movie Sol Train and replaced the Icarus computer voice with Don Cornelius).
Overall, Sunshine is a sizzling futuristic adventure with scorching images, an excellent cast facing rapid-fire decisions of celestial importance with enough dosage of philosophy and psychology to satisfy the requirements of most undergraduate sci-fi moviegoers. A-