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Sunshine brightens careers and minds
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.