Danny Boyle is the master of reinvention. I loved “28 Days Later”, because it was a twist on the traditional Zombie flick. I loved his other film “Millions”, because he completely reversed the family style film, and made it into something I’d never seen. With “Sunshine”, I am completely confident in stating that Danny Boyle has taken the dead sci-fi genre and given it a life I haven’t seen in years.
The film takes place in the future, in a time in which the sun has burned out to the point where Earth has entered a long term nuclear winter. Cillian Murphy plays Capa, the physicist who has developed a bomb called the “payload” that is flown by a crew close enough to the sun that will hopefully reignite the star so that the Earth can continue its existence. When I first heard this premise and that the film was coming from Danny Boyle, I knew that I had to see it. The film is, without a doubt, like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
The cast is led by the very talented Cillian Murphy who has been popping up all over the place since “28 Days Later.” He is excellent in this film and continues to impress me with every film he’s been in. The rest of the cast is absolutely brilliant. Chris Evans, who has been often disregarded as talented due to his lackluster “Fantastic Four” career is quite admirable in this film, in fact I really enjoyed watching him on the screen. Michelle Yeoh (“Memoirs of a Geisha”) turns out another great performance as does character actor Troy Garity (“Bandits”). The cast works really well together. The team in the film is supposed to have been on this ship for two years and you really feel it. You can feel the friendships as well as the tensions and all the different emotions these people would have toward each other. You also feel the fear of each character. One of the characters named Cassie (played very well by Rose Byrne) tells Capa that every time she sleeps she always has the same horrifying dream: the surface of the sun. The ship’s psychologist Searle (played by Cliff Curtis) is obsessed with the power of the sun and watches it from the observation room to the point where his skin is peeling off.
The film is very well written, a rarity for the sci-fi genre. Alex Garland (who wrote Boyle’s zombie flick) wrote this one and he constructed a very realistic script. Like “Children of Men”, I didn’t have a hard time believing that any of this would happen (with the exception of a few scenes). All of this aside, there were two things that were completely enthralling about this film. The visual effects were some of the best I’ve ever seen in a film. They were so well designed (the use of panels on one side of the ship to divert sun rays was brilliant) and with the addition of an amazing sound design, the film really felt real in the theater. My favorite thing about the movie was definitely the soundtrack. The whole film was infused with rock, opera, and instrumental that really brought everything together. There is a scene in which Cillian Murphy is facing certain death and there is nothing but strings playing and it was more effective than blaring fire noise (although the film is filled with that as well.)
I’d also like to mention Boyle’s use of religion in his films(the church in “28 Days Later”, the entire plot of “Millions”). This film has a religious side to it, with the question of sacrifice of one for humanity. There’s a lot of mention of God especially from one character in particular who I need to talk about in the next paragraph.
The only thing that didn’t thrill me was the villain. Yes, there’s a villain and he comes completely out of the blue. He’s absolutely terrifying but there was so much that built up to him that really made me expect more than just this guy. I don’t want to give too much away about it because it is quite surprising. He left a lot to be desired, and that bugged me.
Other than that one downside, this film was absolutely impeccable. It was exactly the sci-fi film I’ve always wanted to see. It was everything that “Event Horizon” tried to be but it takes the fear of space into an even more horrifying dimension. I can’t wait to revisit it, and I hope they release a soundtrack soon. I recommend this film to anyone, not just fans of sci-fi, because it really entertains while it delivers its completely outstanding story. I give “Sunshine” an: