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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first two thirds of Sunshine were fair. Nothing great, but fair. There were immediate problems from the very beginning (such as using a calm voice when it should be awed, and the exact opposite as regards the music), but I liked the fact that none of the crew members were either particularly heroic or evil, but just ordinary people. But I certainly sat there wondering where the hell this story was going. Then came the last part, and, as is the case with so many bad movies, it went straight to hell in a hand-basket. Throughout the movie the logic between events were unclear. Where were we? How did we get from one situation to the next? How did this or that bit work? There was an abject lack of explanations for a host of things, from what exactly was wrong with the sun, and to just what it was that caused the Earthroom fire.
But it can be argued that these elements are not important, because the producers were trying for an art movie. So the substance is all in the themes: World is doomed; scientists are trying to save it; insane religious fanaticism is sabotaging science. Also the scene where they vote on whether to kill Trey: Cassie is the conscience; the emotional and irrational heart among all the rational analyses. Sure. Nice themes. But utilized inside the confines of an utterly incompetently structured narrative.
Nothing made sense. For instance, I could write several pages on the zany way this movie treated gravity. And how it tried to get by on clichés. And was unsuccessful in building suspense due to sloppy writing, directing, editing and sound effects. The creators of this movie know very little about science fiction, and they should stick to what they do marginally well: horror.
Sunshine was a failure, and its IMDb rating (currently a staggering 7.8!!) will plummet when more people (such as actual SF fans, and people who're not friends of the director) see it. Halfway through it I thought it might merit a 5 rating, but the ending was so ludicrous, unbelievable and stupidly put together that I can only end up awarding the movie a 2 out of 10. I now believe this movie has the worst ending of any sci-fi movie I have ever seen. Event Horizon, move over!
When I realized who directed this one, I thought, "Oh, no - not Danny
Boyle!" but since I totally LOVE science fiction, I ordered the DVD and
thought: "Mr Boyle, surprise me!" And surprise me he did.
This is without doubt the best science fiction movie in a very long time. Visually, this one is a gem. I don't think I have seen such beauty in the Sun ever. The "Icarus II" interiors and exterior is truly wonderful and looks so very real. The actors do a great job realizing a surprisingly good script.
The story is a blend of many science fiction movies, but more on the paying tribute to what was than stealing. You have for instance the resemblance of "Discovery One" in "2001: A Space Odyssey", and a couple of other scenes from there. Watch both movies and you will get my point. Several other movies also have "guest appearances".
Expect state of the art special effects, expect an excellent script - and expect wonderful acting.
I'm not only surprised - I am also very much impressed!
Danny Boyle has rebooted the sci-fi genre to a magnificent start.
"Sunshine", clearly inspired by the classics "Alien", "2001: A Space
Odyssey" and many more, but brought to the modern age.
The plot sounds ridiculous at first, but once you get into it, you really get into it! A crew of 8 are sent on a mission to set a bomb in the sun as it is dying and the earth is suffering a solar winter. 7 years before that there was a similar mission, but that failed. They find the lost spacecraft and decide to board it, but a fatal incident occurred that lost them their oxygen supply. There is no longer enough for all of them to get back to earth alive. But there is enough for few; so who will take the plunge and who will survive? And will their sanities stay intact to last them the epic journey?
With such a small cast there was surprisingly no weak performances. Everyone had the desired screen-time to be able to care for them. But the characters anger and frustration caught up with them after being on the ship for 16 months, they begin to take acts of violence on each other and feel stressed so they forget vital aspects that could cost them their lives. You have to remember that they will save mankind if their mission is a success; that's a lot of pressure. And the film feels like a lot of pressure due to the intenseness it creates.
Boyle's skills to create tension is impressive. He uses special techniques to make us feel claustrophobic and more importantly, to panic. Close ups, angles, blurs, stretches, stops, flashes all add up to the effect. The effect of feeling the heat. It burns. But in between those scenes you get to see the relaxing side of space. The view from outside. Its beautiful, truly dazzling and spectacular.
The score is incredible. During the beginning its like a calm 'breather'. But then its turns into a beat. A fast beat. And your heart joins it. Pumping away to make you feel more insecure. Very intense.
Boyle really proves he has talent for different genres in this modern sci-fi to be classic showing how people do the most inhumane thing to survive. I highly recommend it.
Rewatches over the years have revealed its flaws and clichés but it's still enjoyable and nostalgic for me.
I watched this film twice. Both viewings left me with an entirely new
experience. This is what I admire about the talented duo of Danny Boyle
and Alex Garland. They both envision an entertainment encounter
enhanced by a subversive message regarding human issues of today. As an
intelligent film, Sunshine provides a slate of questions, which are
answered by you, the viewer. There is no wrong way to view this film.
It acts like a self-portrait, where the film becomes the paint and you
become the painter.
The plot follows a crew of eight scientists/astronauts who set out on an epic mission towards the Sun, a star which is dying due to internal deterioration by a "Q Ball" (see http://www.sunshinedna.com/?p=236). On their ship, Icarus II, they carry a Stellar Bomb, which is mastered by the physicist Capa (Cillian Murphy). After they reach Mercury, a transmission is heard from the first spaceship that failed the mission. From there, the action begins. The CGI was impressive, especially the reflective solar panels on the spaceship. The Sun is a spectacular sight to see. Its magnificence and peril are certainly shown in the film. Despite this, the CGI is not overpowering. The complexity of the characters parallel (if not exceed) the well-done special effects.
Since Sunshine features an ensemble cast, it is really hard to point out only one actor who succeeded among the rest. All of them well-known and not portrayed their characters to the fullest and brought their best talents to the big screen. Murphy did a fantastic acting performance as Capa. Scientific jargon was not at all a problem with this character. He made you believe Capa's expertise in physics as well as his lack of it as a non-career astronaut. Another standout performance resonates from the beautiful actress, Rose Byrne. Her emotional dynamic is tested in this project and she pulls it off to an uncommon level. Do not be swayed by her looks alone. If her previous film Troy did not catapult her into the public eye, Sunshine will no doubt brighten her Hollywood status. If you plan on refusing Sunshine because of Chris Evans, you will severely regret it. Although typecast as a comedy actor, he truly shines as quite the opposite in this film. Not only does he captivate the audience with his hothead, apathetic persona as the engineer Mace, he sets himself apart from his popular film characters, like Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four. As to be expected in thrilling horror films, Evans also contributes mild comedic relief in various places to lighten up the wave of high tension Sunshine offers. In the end, Mace's redeeming quality puts him outside the realm of antagonist.
Murphy, Byrne and Evans were the only actors who I knew fairly well beforehand. However, after being a webmistress of a Sunshine fansite (http://sunshine.e-fan.org) and watching the film twice, I became a fan of everyone. Michelle Yeoh is an international sensation and her performance in Sunshine leaves me breathless every time. She plays the biologist Corazon and her passion toward the Oxygen Garden and living plants is apparent in everything Yeoh does especially the deep emotion expressed in her eyes and voice. Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada is by far one of the best selections in the Sunshine cast. His role as Captain Kaneda is complimented by Sanada's natural dominating and respected presence on screen. Kaneda's impact on the film is pivotal and memorable throughout. Out of the entire cast, Benedict Wong, Cliff Curtis and Troy Garity are perhaps the least known. The lovely Benedict "Benny" Wong deserves much better recognition than he has had in the past. He was said to have acted too intensely in one scene. If you have seen Sunshine, you will realize how meaningful that statement is and the level at which Wong performs. New Zealander Cliff Curtis plays the doctor Searle. As Searle, Curtis introduces one of the main points embedded in the film and becomes a solid player in the ideological arena. The communications officer Harvey, Troy Garity's character, can be misunderstood if you have not read the character backstories (see http://www.sunshinedna.com/?p=247). Garity successfully captures his essence to the say the least.
Sunshine is not supposed to intimidate you into believing anything nor did I leave the theater feeling that way. It is simply a film that expanded the thrills and excitement of a science fiction piece to a powerful human drama. If you would rather not inspect its deeper implications, you can still appreciate Sunshine for its fictitious and pleasurable value. The action and emotion flooding the film keeps you on the edge of your seat. Who will survive? Will they complete the mission? Watch it and be amazed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To be fair for a short while I was quite taken with the sheer
atmosphere of Sunshine. The ship, the location, the effects.
Still, it didn't take long for them to mess it up. Here they go again... The wheels started to fall off about the time the crew start having a brawl. I'm thinking, maybe the selection process should have focused a bit more on the maturity of the people saving the human race? Responsibility and all that.
The story continues and we have a major catastrophe and the shield is damaged as a result of a human memory malfunction. Two observations:
1. We have an intelligent (?) computer that will override their vital mission to fix the shield in a vital, life threatening way but it wouldn't bl**dy well make the one point something angle correction to the shield when they changed course in the first place! (Which thus also endangered the mission) Since when do we let computers make judgment calls? Why didn't they again use their codes to override the computer for the mere 30 seconds or so it would take to save the Captains life?
2. There was a huge, inconvenient fire in the oxygen producing compartment. Now the computer tells the crew many useful things but did it mention there is a fire? Nope. Was there an effective way to deal with this risk? Again no. Unless you consider burning the oxygen you need to survive effective..... I might mention here that the implication is that the trees have created so much pure oxygen that the fire is particularly violent. Um, surely you have been feeding the trees CO2 or basically the same air everyone is breathing?
We have the space jump from the Icarus 1. Some guy, we really don't care who, ends up in the absolute cold of space behind the shield. Absolute cold of space being -273 degrees Kelvin we're told, so pretty rapidly he freezes. Now that's tough I guess but it's even worse, it's just wrong.
If we assume there is no radiant heat coming from the shield itself here's the story. Space is a vacuum, a vacuum is nothing, so it is neither hot or cold. If, there is no radiant heat source present, then an object will radiate it's heat without gaining any in return until it's all gone. This occurs at absolute zero which is -273 degrees Kelvin. Good so far.
The reason freezing instantly is rubbish is because the writers haven't realized that there is no heat loss by conduction (as in air) but only by radiation. This can be a very slow process. Which is why we put hot drinks in a vacuum flask to keep it hot, a vacuum is the best insulator. Basically freezing would be the least of your worries in space without a suit.
A few more minor points too sharp to swallow
- The shield has lots of moving parts, that don't appear to be useful... - If the plan all along was for the shield-bomb unit to fly into the heart of the Sun, what was going to protect the spacecraft on the return journey? What was going to protect the bomb when it entered the Sun and the heat could come from behind? - Why can you simply raise the, absolutely vital, mainframe computer out of it's coolant without any safety devices or alarms going off? (To override a mission saving action by the computer you need two people and security codes...) Once you raise it, although it turns off, in a while it will destroy itself, somehow. To service it the best way is to dive into freezing water and use a....spanner. The system that raises and lowers it has enough grunt to trap and maim a human being. - When the computer goes off the lights go out, there are no emergency lights... - You can ask the computer to allow so much heat and light in that it will kill you. What the...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm wondering, first of all and a little queasily, what, in ten or
twenty years, will be the movie that makes "Sunshine" seem smart and
entertaining. After sitting in a combination of slack-jawed shock and
sheer blistering irritation through this latest and most misguided
effort from wonderboys Boyle and Garland, a viewing pal and I dug out
"Event Horizon" and "Supernova" (the latter henceforth to be known as
"Mace Is Pinbacker, and There Be Boobies, Too"). And, guess what? The
two that once seemed chunks of rankest Velveeta now blossomed like the
sweetest of Edams next to "Sunshine." Call me old-fashioned, but I like
films to be entertaining. I like them to have plots that progress with
a semblance of logic. Oh, and I like films that have characters. With
character. "Event Horizon" and "Supernova" at least take a shot at
those criteria. "Sunshine" places itself above such silliness. Oh, Mr.
Garland, what were you thinking...? (After the third draft, let alone
the thirty-fourth, you should by now know enough to say to yourself,
"This isn't working, is it?") Mr. Boyle: What possessed you to want to
film this script...? And all of you in the cast: How high was the bar
tab when you signed on the dotted line...? So many reviewers have
singed this thing already that I'll focus on a few idiosyncratic
annoyances and have done.
We're told-- and shown-- throughout "Sunshine" that the sun will burn you to a crisp in less time than it takes to think the phrase "bug zapper," and yet at the end Cillian Murphy's scientist-hippie-savant Capa stands face-to-face with a roiling wall of solar plasma without so much as a blister on his milk-white skin. Of course, earlier he mumbles something about the laws of physics not applying within the sun itself, and I guess he's the expert so he ought to know, but I can't help but wonder silly things like how the sun can burn right through the wall of the bomb housing (which bomb, for some reason, requires a crew of nuts to run it right up to the sun-- I guess there's a real danger of missing a target as tiny as Old Sol) without burning right on through him, too. It burns through him eventually, sure, but not before we're treated to the Obligatory Poetic Destiny Moment. Earlier in the show, another character roars in agony as he roasts alive in direct sunlight; here, now, in the Land of the Big Finale, Capa gets to look all wondering and angelic as the solar breeze flutters his flowing locks. It's as if Danny Boyle took the afternoon off (given the sloppy direction throughout the film, a month or two off wouldn't have been out of line) and flagged Steven Spielberg-- in full golden-glowy schlock mode-- to stand in for him.
Another random ranting: Even though the film's makers and supporters yodel to all and sundry about how their marvelous picture-show manages to get by without any aliens or supernatural elements, "Sunshine"'s third-act mystery killer is not only super-duper strong (okay: so maybe toting the admittedly, erm, fine-boned Cillian Murphy around by the throat would realistically call only for "reasonably strong," no "super" or "duper" about it), he's completely immune to wild extremes of heat and cold. He takes a blast of "full sunlight" (the same brand of "full sunlight" that incinerates at least two other characters) without so much as an "Ouch!"; then he removes from their silly huge open vat of cooling liquid the ship's preposterously big computer components and suffers not the least touch of frostbite-- even though frostbite fatally mauls the poor schmuck saddled with the task of re-dunking those components.
About halfway through, I started thinking how much fun Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright would have making a parody of "Sunshine." By the end, however, I'd modified the thought in two ways: 1. the Pegg parody would have a beginning, a middle, and an end; action one could follow; and warmth, humor, and heart-- all of which "Sunshine" lacks in spades; and 2. the parody had already begun. Maybe it was a pre-emptive strike on the part of Boyle and Garland, but by the time they were milking for drama the fact that Mr. Murphy had fallen in his spacesuit (note to Mr. Boyle: don't EVER admit that you based a spacesuit design on Kenny from "South Park." Trust me on this.) and-- yes!-- couldn't get up, I burst out laughing. Oh, he's grunting-- he's sweating-- he's making that deeply endearing "Nnnnnnnggghhh--!" sound that signals to fluttery fan-ears and -hearts worldwide that He, Cillian Murphy, Is In Distress-- and it's one of the most cracker-jack funny film moments I've seen in months. Which months in fact included a Pegg parody, "Hot Fuzz." Perhaps Boyle and Garland should hearken to a new calling.
'Cause sci-fi certainly isn't their strong suit. Come to think of it, neither is character development. Or pacing. Or middles. Or endings. Or....
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went into the cinema with mixed expectations. The premise - a team of
scientists sent with a giant bomb to return our dying sun to normal
levels - seemed B-movie material of the worst kind. I could just
imagine card-board cut-out characters, clichéd plot twists and a truck
of scientific errors. Yet this is directed by Danny Boyle
(Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) so who knew, maybe he could work the
same magic he did on zombie flicks on the disaster-in-space sub-genre.
I am surprised to report Sunshine delivered on all of these points.
Cillian Murphy, star of 28 Days Later, returns as ship's primary physicist, Capa. He and the rest of the 8 crew members of Manhattan-sized bomb Icarus II are on a mission to fix the Sun, which is cooling perilously. 16 months in and something forces a change of plan. The previous (failed) expedition is discovered floating in orbit of our star. It's when Capa makes the decision that they change course for the Icarus I that things start going wrong. One small mistake leads to great danger, which causes more havoc and forces the desperate saviours of humanity to take even more dangerous risks and so on, all culminating in an insane and murderous survivor rampaging through the ship with a motorised scalpel.
Up until actually reaching the Icarus I, it's all so Apollo 13 and so good. Spot-on characterisation, beautiful long shots and rather familiar set design (watch out for the cockpit). But it's when Sunshine tries to be a psychological-thriller and a sci-fi and a horror flick and an action movie that it all starts to go horribly wrong as a film. It loses direction - maybe because Danny Boyle is too busy looking over the computer graphics guys' shoulders and saying "Ooh, that looks cool. Hey, how about we obscure half the action? Or put in pseudo-subliminal images? Or blur the screen?Orstoptheframe? Addsomeghostingthere!Andthere!Andblurthis! Andputaflashoflightthere!" Individually, each graphic trick that Boyle tries looks really, really cool and usually flows properly but when he throws them into the movie like Picasso throws paint, it gets very tiring awfully quickly. Quite frankly, it gives me a headache even to remember it.
What plot is full of holes, too. Some may actually have been explained but I must have blinked during those frames. For example, and worst by far, is that they seem to ignore the effect of the Sun's gravity for the most part. If an object is thrust parallel with the spin of the Sun, gravity should pull them towards it in a curve but instead they travel in a totally straight line. Bah.
It's such a shame that Sunshine ends up so incomprehensible and random because it is packed full of good ideas. It's apparent that they tried to do too much at once and weren't critical enough to get rid of the stuff that was un-necessary or didn't work. Still, the 'lesser of two evils' theme running through certainly makes food for thought. It's refreshing to see such sensible characters who know what's at stake. Would you kill a friend to save humanity and all the solar system? What about three friends? More? That's the question isn't it...
I can't recommend watching this film. It's smart, it's oh so beautiful, it's well acted... but it has collapsed under its own weight into nothing more than sun-scorched stardust. Go watch Pitch Black, or dig out that old VHS of Apollo 13, Alien or the Abyss. Anything. Just not this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had high expectations for this film, as the scenario is an
interesting one. Unfortunately, the film is clumsily structured and
incoherent in parts, and many elements are contrived to keep the crew
in danger. Here's a not quite comprehensive list:
- The movie opens with a voice-over explaining the situation and you jump right into the ship. Since there's no shots showing what is actually happening on Earth until the very end, I didn't feel invested in the mission.
- Any science that was once in the script has been gutted here - there's no mention of WHY the sun is dying or exactly how the bomb will restart it, although an interesting theory about a "Q-particle" infesting the sun is on the production blog.
- You'll be confused by some of the most incoherent fight scenes ever filmed. With his extreme closeups and quick cuts, Boyle can't even pull off a 20 second fight in a corridor without losing the audience. It gets worse with the Pinbacker character, who's filmed so blurry and artsy that my wife seriously thought he was some kind of trans-dimensional alien.
- For such a critical mission, the Icarus ships are not very robust. They contain only one airlock (even the shuttle has two ways to get out!), one mainframe that depends on a constant supply of coolant with no backup computer, and no emergency lighting. Instead of the habitat spinning to provide gravity (which would make more sense than the never-mentioned but apparent artificial gravity), the only part of the ship that spins are the communication antennas - the one part you want stationary and pointing to Earth. The heat shield is composed of thousands of mechanical louvers with no imaginable function, instead of a simple solid piece. I rarely had a clear idea as to where anything was in this ship; for example, the viewing room was cut into the bomb's heat shield, but there was no impression that anyone had to walk through the bomb area to get there.
- Oxygen levels play a big part in the suspense, with Michelle Yeoh calculating that there's only enough air for four crew. Yet this was a vast ship with literally cubic acres of air in the bomb area alone (which begs the question, why have air around the bomb at all?). And all this oxygen was generated by the small plant area? I don't think so.
- Why exactly did the first probe fail? Did everyone just decide to burn themselves up? Didn't quite catch that explanation.
- If the mainframe fails, there's only one person who can operate the bomb. Why weren't the rest of the crew trained to operate it? What else did they have to practice on for 16 months?
- The bomb will be traveling so fast space & time will break down? Please. This thing is the mass of Manhattan, you're not going to accelerate it very fast.
- Why was communication lost as they neared Mercury? We've had probes go to Mercury and even closer to the sun, and we've talked to them just fine.
- All remaining plausibility flees at the end, when Capa detonates the bomb and has a leisurely gaze at..what? The wall of nuclear flame? The fires of creation? You tell me. The famously cryptic 2001 made a lot more sense than this.
In general, much of the film impressed me as contrived situations to keep the crew in danger. This movie had a lot of potential, but Danny Boyle chose to get lost in his own head.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've just finished watching Sunshine - it was so bad I felt I had to
comment on it.
I really wanted to enjoy this film and at times I did; however no matter how visually stunning it may be a film has to have a plot and characters that are believable.
The real killer for me was the science. I'm prepared to make massive allowances; for instance it's an acknowledged fact that all Hollywood spaceships have artificial gravity that works even when the emergency lights fail. Eventually the nonsense built up to the point I couldn't ignore it any longer; a spaceship that needs a slingshot around Mercury to alter course yet can instantaneously brake alongside another in orbit; 'intelligent' computers that ignore extra crew members on board; a 'payload' that mysteriously doesn't burn up once it's heat-shield is gone; running out of oxygen in 15 hours yet having millions of litres of breathable atmosphere; in fact a spaceship design that is just nonsense! Science made nonsense to support a weak and predictable plot.
Please don't waste your time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mankind's last best hope is a bunch of emotional hipster morons.
ALL SPOILERS - 1) No one on earth thought they might rendezvous with the first mission? 2) One unnamed dude can change the course of the spaceship in the middle of the night? 3) He FORGOT to adjust the SHIELDS protecting them from the sun? 4) HE FORGOT?? 5) It takes .05 seconds for someone to point out his mistake? 6) He couldn't ask first? 7) There's no protocol for who does repairs outside the ship? 8) The only people who are trained are the two most important people? The physicist Capa and the captain of the ship? 9) After 16 months, the captain, the psychologist and the physicist (who all look like they're from the same band) are all suicidal? 10) There's no protocol among astronauts about who is expendable and in what order? 11) No one is trained to do repairs beyond their specialty? 12) There's not a doctor on board? 13) An exploratory mission again includes the captain and the physicist -who is AGAIN called the most important person on the mission? 14) An unidentified man from the other ship boards their ship and this amazing computer neglects ANY MENTION OF IT? 15) This man is burned to a crisp but alive after 6.5 years of sun exposure at like five miles? But his entire crew is a pile of ashes? 16) No one else can survive the sun's rays but a psychopath? 17) Only when you ASK the computer, does it tell you that there's an unidentified person on the ship? But, it just calculated the remaining oxygen? 18) The person who cares most about the oxygen generation room doesn't care that they only have one? 19) Submerging the main frame computer manually into it's coolant requires going UNDER the computer, submerging oneself into the coolant tank? You can't make a button Lenovo? 20) the ending? ugh.
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