A brilliant film. I will always remember August 8th, 2007 as the day when I first saw Sunshine. A most memorable date indeed, as I saw what would become second only to Requiem for a Dream on my list of all-time favorite films. Due to the dim bulbs at Fox, I had to drive all the way to North Richland Hills to see it, but never has going out of my way to see a film been more worth the effort.
Danny Boyle's science fiction epic is pure, unadulterated tension. I actually became physically uncomfortable (sweating, tingling, the works) due to the tension and claustrophobia on display. Not only your typical claustrophobia, but claustrophobia of the mind as well. I felt every bit of psychosis, loneliness and pressure that the characters felt. To be that far from home for such a long time, all cramped up in a ship headed for the searing heat of the sun... I felt that. I rarely feel this way for film characters, but here, I felt the depth and the seriousness of their situation. I felt sucker punched every time one of them died. The demise of Kaneda was especially effective. The raw, emotional reactions from the actors sold it to me big time. It's sort of hard to explain, but Sunshine just hammered me in a way that more traditionally disturbing films aren't capable of. This film nails the horrors of psychological exhaustion as flawlessly as any film I've seen.
It helps that the cast was uniformly excellent. Each character had their own unique voice and their own unique reaction to the situation at hand. Of the lot, Chris Evans really impressed me as Mace. I didn't think he was much of an actor before seeing him in this film. Special mention to my favorite actress, Rose Byrne. Her performances never disappoint, her charm is unmatched and she possesses a beauty more intense than the sun itself.
I have no complaints about the third act. None. I will agree with general consensus that Alex Garland usually goes off the rails towards the end of his screenplays, but not here. It was clearly being built up to all throughout the film. Just look at the spiritual awakening that the sun inspires in Searle, or the first video message we see from Pinbacker. And yes, spirituality is used to fascinating effect, adding a deep layer of personal poignancy to the film. One of the key themes of Sunshine, after all, is man's relationship with the sun itself, the source of all life. It also allowed for the creepy aspect of Pinbacker posing the bodies of his victims.
Unlike many people, I actually loved the filming technique used to shoot Pinbacker. It reminded me of the visible heat waves one often sees rising off of highway asphalt. The introduction of Pinbacker in the observation room, by the way, is a classic scene. Absolutely classic.
This film was the one to push me into the whole HD/Blu-Ray thing. I had virtually no desire to upgrade formats, but this film was so astonishingly visual, it single-handedly opened me to the idea. I don't know if I've ever seen more beautifully realized visuals than those captured here. Couple that with the booming sound design and I'm so relieved that I managed to catch this theatrically. It was such an experience, and I'd like to replicate that experience as closely as possible with each future viewing.
Sunshine is a stunning film that I could discuss endlessly. Fox really dropped the ball with promotion and distribution. It deserved so much better in that regard, but what's done is done. Now, if only the film's equally incredible soundtrack would hit CD in the near future.