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The surface of the sun... every time I shut my eyes, it's all I see.
Cujo1083 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
50 years from now, a crew of eight astronauts are heading to our dying sun via the colossal Icarus II spaceship. Having left earth frozen in a solar winter, they are humanity's last hope after the failure of the original Icarus mission several years earlier. They are to drop a massive nuclear bomb into the heart of the sun, hopefully reigniting the fading star. All of earth's remaining resources were mined to create the bomb, so there won't be another shot. Unfortunately, minds tend to crack under the most unbearable pressure one could ever imagine.

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.
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Nearly there
Sevenmercury76 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I'm sure many reviews will say something similar: This is two-thirds of a great sci-fi movie. Specifically, the first two thirds. Natural characters, intelligent dialogue, stunning visuals; I was thoroughly immersed in this philosophical disaster movie in space. Heck, even the moody, modern, sentimental score worked.

The central premise concerns humanity's last hope for survival: the Icarus II (EXTREMELY dumb name for a ship travelling to the sun, if you remember the Greek legend), whose crew must re-ignite said star with a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan island. It's distant future stuff, but the filmmakers work hard at establishing plausibility. They certainly achieve it. Impressive.

Cast-wise, it's an eclectic group. Cillian Murphy gets the starring role, and he's good. Maybe it's just me, but he always looks slightly psychotic - something to do with the eyes perhaps? Anyway, he's a quirky and soulful leading man.

Nice work by Michelle Yeoh, Rose Byrne and Cliff Curtis. Not one weak link in the multinational cast.

I thought Chris Evans stole the acting honours. Despite his character's hot temper, he gave gravitas to every decision, and they included some pretty big ones. He's the pragmatic member of the group; logic's on his side, and he knows it.

The introduction of Icarus I to the second half of the story (the previous ship that mysteriously failed) is not handled particularly well. The crew's decision to deviate from the mission is a poor one, and has disastrous consequences. Later on, a horror element is introduced which is just laughable. All the filmmakers' hard work peters out in a third act of blurry shots, shaky cams and incomprehensible cuts.

Overall, 'Sunshine' is a real mixed bag. Director Danny Boyle and his cast work hard to create a believable scenario. The special effects really are special. I think the fault here lies with writer Garland, whose third act is derivative, contrived, and not worthy of the rest of this fine film.
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Sunshine - rather good..
lozza77816 April 2007
Sunshine cost £20 million. Jerry Bruckheimer and his Hollywood cohorts must be shaking their heads in disbelief. Danny Boyle and Alex Garland, British born and bred, have outdone America's effects laden finest, and at a mere fraction of the price. Armageddon ($140 million) and Pirates of The Caribbean 2 ($225 million) have nothing, nothing on the majestic visuals that Sunshine offers. From the jaw dropping opening sequence to the fantastically realised final moments, Boyle's latest is a mighty treat for the eyes.

But of course, effects do not make a film. You need only consider the two aforementioned Bruckheimer blowouts for proof. But happily, behind the blinding visuals, Sunshine has a violently beating heart. One that offers absolutely no let up, that gains speed and then gains a little more, before finally threatening cardiac arrest. You can't help but live and breath every moment of the crew's breathless existence.

The year is 2057 and a select group of astronauts are given that most trifling of tasks. The sun is dying. Drop a bomb in it. Save all of mankind. And to top it all, on a ship rather ominously named 'Icarus II'. Add inevitable inter crewmember tension and you have a rather heated situation. The sweaty crew are played wonderfully by a decidedly un-starry, but talented cast. Cilian Murphy, taking the lead role as the ship's resident physicist Cappa, the only member who has the wherewithal to actually drop the bomb, is coolly enigmatic as ever, the blue orbs of his eyes forming a nice counterpoint to the never far rather redder orb of the sun. You can't help but feel he isn't particularly challenged as an actor, but nevertheless he provides a suitably ambivalent, androgynous and faintly unsettling core to the proceedings.

Perhaps more impressive is Chris Evans. Recently seen in a similarly hot headed role in the undercooked comic book adaptation 'Fantastic Four', he consistently snatches scenes from Murphy as engineer Mace, about as volatile and fiery as Cappa is composed and cool. Without Evan's energetic performance, the film would sink into an anti-libidinal quag. Mace's emotive instability injects pace when it's needed and brings some welcome variety to the otherwise glum faces. Evans is surely on the brink of big things. A small quibble would be that there are perhaps a few too many characters; meaning that a fair share of the cast never really gets a chance for development, which is irritating, as one gets the feeling that there's a lot of wasted potential.

Another chink in Sunshine's spacesuit, is in many places, Alex Garland's screenplay. Whilst he has a remarkable talent for creating intense psychological tension, of which there is plenty in Sunshine, his philosophising is much less satisfactory. This is not to say he doesn't play with some fascinating ideas. With the crew circling so close to the Sun, to the giver of life, Garland begins ask the biggest of questions. Is there something, something inestimably greater than ourselves, something that could create such a magnificent star, or are we, like the sun, simply dust? It's a great idea, but for the larger part of the film, it seems oddly shoehorned into what is at base a sci-fi pot-boiler. In fact these ideas are better expressed in Boyle's imagery. Time and time again we see members of the crew staring aghast at the immensity of the burning ball of gas and dust in front of them. The relationship between giver and taker is better explored here than in any line of Garland's.

The structure of his screenplay is also a little unwieldy. The first hour and a half play as an intense psychological study - the pace at times painfully weighty as the tension is ratcheted up ever higher. The film works beautifully here - it may not introduce anything particularly new; claustrophobic stress is certainly nothing new in sci-fi, but it follows genre conventions with such panache and artistry that it's difficult to fault. However, come the final 20 minutes, Sunshine takes a rather abrupt and unwelcome turn. A pretty hammy (not to mention poorly explained) plot twist is ushered in and suddenly we find ourselves in a horror film - a clichéd one at that. To say much more would spoil things, but needless to say, had the filmmakers showed a little restraint in the closing moments, they would have had a real classic on their hands. When the film ditches pretensions, and sticks with the clammy, slow burn thrills it excels at, it's fantastic. When it descends into predictable melodrama, it's still alright, it's just disappointing considering what we know it's capable of. As such it's remarkably well shot, superbly rendered, occasionally poignant and occasionally flawed. Whatever the case, Sunshine is never far from entirely thrilling, and, all said and done, film recommendations don't come much higher than that.
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harry_tk_yung5 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Coming from the director-writer team that brought us the imaginative, creative "28 days later", "Sunshine" is a disappointment. It's as if the movie makers, halfway through making the movie, got hit by some mysterious radiation or virus and abruptly changed their mind, turning a space epic adventure with promising potentials into a space horror B-movie. Permit me to elaborate.

I like the cut-and-dry, no nonsense opening, when we see the crew of eight, after 16 months in space, arrives a week ahead of schedule at the edge of the "dead zone" from which communication with Earth is no longer possible. Their mission is to re-ignite a dying sun with an explosion, something that the previous mission 7 years ago failed to do. In similar movies, there is invariably a build-up showing the background, the assembling of the team, establishing characters and conflicts, and so on. Doing away with all these preliminaries in "Sunshine" is a courageous thing in itself, showing the movie makers' confidence that whatever they put on the screen will be spellbound for the audience. For a moment, they seem to be right.

There are one or two interesting parameters. No pain has been spared in driving the point home that the Sun, while the source of all lives on Earth, is at the same time the deadliest of enemies, particularly at close range. And yet the fascination it has on the crew (especially two of them) is almost hypnotizing. This theme has been consistently reinforced throughout the movie. There is also careful depiction of the psychological impact of prolonged isolation on some of the crew members.

The key turning point of the plot is the discovery of the vehicle lost 7 years ago and the decision to make a detour, not to check for survivors, but to collect the unused bomb so that the mission will have two chances instead of just one. So far so good. Mishaps happen along the way, naturally. In this genre, the audience in prepared to accept a certain degree of weak logic. But as incredulity develops to mind-boggling proportions you begin to lose interest. For example, how can you believe that an expert who carefully calculates every detail of the mechanism for changing the course forgets to take into consideration the effect of the deadly Sun, something that is more critical and fundamental to their survival than water and food? But all these mounting plot holes are dwarfed by the complete shift of the movie from a save-the-Earth mission to a space horror. Even worse, this is not a space horror that is firmly rooted, such as "Alien". The plot twist in "Sunshine", despite the elaborate packaging, is a sloppy devise of four words: one guy gone crazy.

The characters in "Sunshine" stand out neither more nor less compared with those in movies such as "Armageddon", "Deep Impact", "Core", "Mission to Mar" or other ones you might think of. Cillian Murphy is completely wasted here. He gets a better deal even in "Red Eye".

On the technical plane, this movie is not bad. Images, sound, editing, score all contribute towards the creation of an atmosphere of tension. You would like to put aside your reasoning capacity and enjoy it. But when your tolerance is stretched to a breaking point, this movie become memorable, for the wrong reasons.
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A terrific study in sanity
Mr_PCM5 April 2007
How would we cope under the most extreme circumstances imaginable? That is the question posed by Danny Boyle's latest offering, and the answer seems to be that anybody can be pushed over the edge, it is just a question of what and how much it takes.

Danny Boyle seems unable to settle on a genre specialty, but it also seems that whatever he turns his hand to he can make work (with the exception of romantic comedy - A Life Less Ordinary anyone?). In his latest, the sun is dying, and we join the 2nd attempt to try and restart the star by delivering a nuclear bomb to kick-start it. Having been alone in space for the past 16 months, the eight-man crew is approaching its destination, but nerves are starting to fray. Then they pick up a signal rom the ship that made the first, unsuccessful, attempt. Inevitably they go and investigate, and problems ensue. When the inevitable disaster occurs, jeopardising the mission, we begin to see how people deal with extreme circumstances, and how their sanity is affected, in different ways. Elements are recognisable from Alien, Solaris and Event Horizon, and the film certainly benefits from all of those influences. The claustrophobia, the understated technology, the dark corridors, the unseen menace, all recognisable but effectively used.

This is not a typical science fiction per se. There are no aliens, no space battles, and no ultra-advanced technology on show. Instead Boyle chooses a more philosophical tangent, leading to questions of exactly what defines humanity, and the value of a single life weighed against the future of mankind.

The casting is excellent, with many recognisable but no particularly famous faces, the biggest names being Batman Begins' Cillian Murphy and Fantastic Four's Chris Evans. This lack of star names, combined with a cast of only the eight crew somehow makes the loneliness and the feeling of being a huge distance from home with a long way to go seem even more real. We really begin to feel with the crew as they try to hold it together long enough to complete their vital mission. Cillian Murphy in particular is a piece of inspired casting, as in many of his roles he has always appeared on the very brink of insanity anyway, so he has the close-to-crazy act down to a tee.

The CGI of the sun is extremely impressive, particularly considering the relatively low budget of the film, and the simple but intense story has viewers on the edge of the seat virtually from first act to last. The suspense is built gradually but extremely effectively, to the extent where you can feel your sanity heading the way of the astronauts' as the conclusion approaches with increasing speed.

Overall a very effective study in what a tenuous thing sanity is when faced with huge odds and a great threat. Thrilling, gripping and thought-provoking, and another genre nailed by Boyle - now if only he could crack that pesky rom-com!
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could have been great, but it wasn't. Had no idea what was going on for the last 30 minutes.
chris-irwin8921 June 2012
I was really enjoying the movie to begin with, and it had all the makings to be a great Sci-Fi film. But just as the movie was heating up, it's like the script writer got carried away with all these ideas and decided to cram them all into one film.

If they had just stuck with a single, well thought out story line and a few plot twists, it would have been great. Instead, I had to watch a completely perplexing display of twists and turns until the story line was completely incomprehensible and unrecognisable.

I honestly had no clue what was going on for most of the final 30 minutes.
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A crew of eight tries to save mankind from freezing to death
black-sunshine-14 March 2007
I was very lucky being able to get into a preview of this movie today in Vienna. I only knew very little about it in advance, so my expectations were quite neutral.

One word of advice: this movie is not for nitpickers or physicist. The plot outline (i.e. detonating a "stellar bomb" inside the sun) sounds ludicrous at first - but if you're able to ignore this and some other scientific nonsense, you get one great movie.

This one is all about the details and the crew's behavior. Danny Boyle once again proves his insight into the human psyche as he portraits how the crew-members handle the various arising problems, some of the decision-making is displayed frighteningly realistic compared to other movies in the genre. Cillian Murphy (brilliant as ever) and Chris Evans (hated him in Fantastic 4, but showed a great performance here) pair up very nicely during most many scenes.

The entire movie has a certain feel to it, the atmosphere is very tense and Boyle manages to keep the pace at quite a high level the entire time. Visual FX are at a high level as well.

Apparently Sunshine can't deny the influences from 2001 or Event Horizon, nevertheless it should be treated as an independent film.

A few deductions for some glitches and the scientific stuff, otherwise great entertainment!
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Interesting idea, nice effects & drama, terrible science
kenlinder10 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
OK - the space effects and such looked cool. The ships looked cool. It had nice special effects. The human drama issues and moral quandaries were reasonable issues to bring up. Yet many of the story twists and complications (actually most of them) were um..."borrowed" (I say it kindly) from other movies (far too common these days) - with pieces of technology taken from everything from "Event Horizon" & "Dr Who" to "The Abyss".

BUT - the most important failure here is - science fiction -MUST- have science in it, at least speculative science, or the whole thing dies. The science in this movie is beyond bad. Even the "Star Wars" saga, with space ships that cornered in a vacuum just like airplanes do in an atmosphere, had a better grasp of science than these people did.

This movie was woefully lacking in basic science. It was done with no understanding of even the most basic physical laws. They were trying to rescue the planet earth by saving our sun...fixing a problem that cannot happen, with methods that could not work.


The sun does not act the way this movie shows us. Suns function due to a vast quantity of atoms pressing inward due to GRAVITY. Our sun is not going to stop working in another 50 years. It will be chugging along, long after we (humanity) has long been extinct. Their entire premise for how to reignite a sun is beyond stupid (since it is not a fire anyway). A sun is a STAR - a massive fusion reaction. To get it to keep going (should it fail) you would need one of two things:

1) hydrogen (and far more than any group of humans could ever amass) to fix the problem. 2) or a way to turn the other elements in that sun, back into the hydrogen that it all used to be

Also a sun dies when the elements that are in it (starting out as hydrogen) have fused into heavier and heavier elements and then into far too much iron. Then you have troubles (several billions of years from now).


Humans (when our cells work) produce water due to our normal animal biology. Yes we do also exhale CO2, but that is very easy to scrub. We do it today just fine. On a space ship, the biggest problem is getting rid of the WATER which accumulates everywhere (we breathe it out and we sweat it out of us). It has to be removed from the air. Also, water is H2O - part oxygen and part hydrogen and a whole lot of kids have split off that oxygen in science class - back down into hydrogen and oxygen. How come they did not know how to do this?

Remember all of those wet locations in the ship in Alien? That was far more realistic.

Also why did they use big plants to scrub their air, instead of just using algae inside of transparent plates - which grows far faster and makes far more O2 per surface area? That is how our planet got so much free oxygen. It makes way more sense than big plants do? I suppose that that was not pretty enough for them.

ALSO - when they did lose their CO2 scrubbing plants, it would not have mattered at all to their mission. Why? It would have taken a very long time for that few humans to use up the amount of oxygen in a ship of that size. The ship was massive. Exactly how much oxygen per day do 4 to 6 people need to survive? How they could have not had enough oxygen to make it to the sun when they were right next to it (half a day just by gravity)? They were close enough that is caused their ship harm. They needed special shielding.

The volume of that huge ship was filled with AIR (not vacuum). Even after all their various problems, that thing was so HUGE they could have lived on the air in it for many months without any noticeable build-up of carbon dioxide.

But let us pretend otherwise and depart from reality for a second.

*WHY* do we have a scene in which one of the crew so very happy to find one tiny living plant spout growing in the remains of their ships oxygen scrubbing system? Why? It would have taken many years to grow enough plants to make a scrubber for a ship that large (large enough for far more people than were on it).

First they are sad due to the death of their plants, which they do not need given that the energy from the sun was more than enough to run old fashioned non-plant CO2 scrubbers (as used by NASA now) and as they were HEADED FOR THE SUN they would have had lots of solar power.

So, why build a forest in the ship for atmosphere scrubbing, if it is not ever leaving the solar system? Somebody must have thought it was pretty. Perhaps they saw it in another movie or TV show.


Stupid science destroyed the movie. Anyone who passed high school basic science (in fact most 6th grade science classes teach the needed pieces) could have given them better ideas than the ones they used. Next time, when doing science fiction, get a person on your team who knows a little science.
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Not very well thought out
doughelo20 July 2007
Warning: 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.
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flufferforhire29 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
To be fair for a short while I was quite taken with the sheer atmosphere of Sunshine. The ship, the location, the effects. Breathtaking.

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?

Moving on...

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...
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Probably the best sci-fi film I've seen in years.
m_j_ray18 August 2007
Sunshine is, quite simply, brilliant. From the opening sequence - simple yet effective and revealing so much about the character in question - right through to the end, I was gripped.

Oddly for a sci-fi film, the power isn't in the effects or the sheer fantastic nature of the plot, it's in the people. From scary-eyed Cillian Murphy to pretty-boy Chris Evans, every performance is believable. Their reactions to events are so much more genuine-seeming than in just about every other film I've seen in recent years; be it joy, shock or grief, you can share it with them and this is something that a perfectly-worked score and some very accomplished camera-work add to handsomely. Whilst the personalities do lean towards certain conventions, none of them are so much so that they couldn't be explained away as being a result of or necessary to their profession - the slightly distant and isolated physicist; the cool-headed and pragmatic captain; the biologist who is passionate about their charges but emotionally-distant from their crew-mates.

The dialogue too is spot-on with nothing coming across as being too clichéd or too hammy. It all seems like real things that real people would say, from the casual banter to the emotional outpourings and everything in between. Unlike so many other films, the characters are human and they act like humans - there is no casual detachment and needless bandying of glib phrases.

The effects are exactly what they need to be in balance to this - believable but not distracting from eight very dynamic performances; complementing rather than show-stealing and over-awing.

All in all it's more of a psychological thriller than a traditional sci-fi extravaganza and whilst this has been done many times before - 2001: Space Odyssey, Solaris, Silent Runnings; to name a few - Sunshine does it superbly and without fault. I'd highly recommend this film to anyone who is looking for something more than just easy entertainment to kill a couple of hours. Conversely, if you ~are~ just looking for something light then keep on looking - this is not a film to be only half-watched.
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To say there is nothing new under the sun is usually apt in sunny Hollywood, but not this time
Flagrant-Baronessa22 April 2007
With a suitably international and diverse cast to simulate the equivalent crew onboard the Icarus II ("Icarus I" didn't fare so well), director Danny Boyle fledges a science fiction that gains momentum at its very first image – and does not halt until the end credits roll. To be perfectly frank, this is one of the most unbearably exciting films for whose entire duration I have ever squirmed in my seat for at the theatre.

On a mission to re-ignite the sun by detonating a bomb ("the size of Manhattan island", Cillian Murphy's physicist nods to American audiences and cause me to suffer horrible flashbacks to Armaggeddon's "it's the size of Texas" assessment) human lives are expendable and rationalized by rank. There are scientists, astronauts and various specialists on Icarus II who are all poised on the brink of sacrificing themselves for the greater good of mankind. Diverse in the sense that there are both men and women, and few characters are 'black or white' (morally, and physically), it does puzzle me that New Zealanders, Aussies and Irishmen have been arbitrarily converted into Americans. The crew is nevertheless highly impressive and professional, with a few minor exceptions for plot-propelling purposes, like when someone does something very stupid.

There is noticeably a tremendous visual sense throughout "Sunshine" with a screen that is awash with sparkling explosions and each frame saturated with bright colours and dimmed contrasts. There is no genre-transcending perhaps, and most probably its visuals are under the mercy of dating effects, but for now this is truly the crème de la crème of science fiction, take my word for it. Even the cinematography within the spaceship alleys and chambers is compelling and sweeps through Icarus II with great tracking shots. Amongst other films, Danny Boyle was inspired by Das Boot and certainly there are traces of the same claustrophobia underpinning the setting, but ultimately he opted for a more habitable environment to make it believable (like humanity would ship off its only hope with a crummy, crowded old vessel).

To justify the occasional bouts of sci-fi clichés, I'd like to firstly point out that it's not like "Sunshine" traffics in stereotypes or resorts to formulaic elements, and secondly that I believe certain clichés have evolved for a reason – they quite clearly stand the test of time. There are within science fiction some staples that are simply necessary to define its genre, such as the dutiful human sacrifices to up the drama, the internal mutinies to instill the uncertainty in the operation, the nightmarish conditions onboard the ship to suck you in, the technical jargon of velocities and shield angles that spits like bullet-fire to give the film a firm scientific footing, and finally the epic music to elevate suspense. "Sunshine" incorporates and melts together all of the aforementioned, but in militantly non-formulaic ways that only add to the experience. As a potent example, there isn't just pedestrian classical tunes recycled from 2001 and filtered through {insert rote Hollywood composer here}'s score – it is puffed full of beautiful piano crescendos that are almost incongruous to the sci-fi vibe, and the cumulative effect is wonderful.

"Sunshine" is sporadically blemished by minor faults, such as when Murphy's Law is being followed a bit too rigorously to up the excitement. Luckily, all of this is washed away or camouflaged when Boyle serves up his next goosebumps-inducing, gasp-eliciting spectacle – be it a horror twist or an impossibly epic action stunt. On the topic of the former, and clearly the chiasma at which "Alien" comparisons have been drawn, there is a magnificently creepy horror/mystery vibe interlacing the story in space. On top of this, Danny Boyle also dabbles in existentialism (a little too much if you ask me), making this into one of the most ambitious sci-fi turns ever made. In this way, maybe "Sunshine" is not primed to collect awards or even serve as meat for mainstream Hollywood, but I think it's safe to crown it the "Alien" of the 21st century.

8 out of 10
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I couldn't find the "off" switch for my brain
chaney18886 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Two things up front: Firstly, anyone who's read this far into the reviews knows the plot of this thing (astronauts chucking a bomb-- if not themselves-- into the dying sun in order to revive it). Secondly, the following is as disjointed as the film it addresses.

So many glowing reviews I've read for "Sunshine" seem to center around the idea that one must simply give in to the power and majesty of the film's visuals. That is to say, one must in the presence of "Sunshine" emphasize oohing and ahhing over thinking.

I'm sorry: I can't do that. Ironically, if "Sunshine" were being touted as a dumb bit of fluff, I'd be far more likely to take it at face value. But "Sunshine"'s makers and culties have trumpeted their darling as a slice of intelligent sci-fi, oh-so-rare these days, etc.

Frankly, it's not. That "intelligent" thing. Not a bit of it.

Thoughts: If you hire a physicist to act as a consultant on your film, and if your screenwriter concocts backstories for your characters, and if you house your actors in bare-bones student digs and send them up in airplanes that permit them to experience zero-g, all so that they feel like "real" astronauts, and if all that consulting and all those stories and all that experience don't end up on the screen-- i.e., if you expect us viewers to mine the film's websites for this science and these tales-- then you as a filmmaker (that means you, Mr. Boyle) haven't done your job. Simple.

We don't know who these characters are, so we don't care about them. Sure, Rose Byrne has her teary brown doe-eyes, so she captures an instant sympathy vote, and Hiroyuki Sanada draws us in with his calm and his silky voice. But the rest of 'em? Cillian Murphy comes off as a stoner and a bit of a jerk, and Chris Evans tries desperately to make something of the "duty" card he's been dealt, but the rest of 'em are ciphers. Alex Garland seems to think that character development is for sissies-- or that it's certainly not important if you have a Big Idea (here "Our Lives Are Secondary to the Saving of All Humanity, Dontchaknow"). I politely suggest that he's dead wrong. If we don't give a rat's patootie about the characters, we certainly won't care about the idea in the service of which they're acting.

And not only are they ciphers: they're inconsistent, too. Early on, Mace goads Capa, the only one capable of operating the stellar bomb (in itself a ridiculous idea: what, in sixteen months, Capa couldn't train a backup to turn the key and press the "LAUNCH" button? Job security, I guess.), into performing a highly dangerous repair job outside the ship. Then, later, when he and Capa and another of the Icarus II's hapless crew must execute an ill-advised human-cannon trick between two crippled airlocks (a situation that falls squarely between "Don't ask." and "What the hell?"), Mace insists that Capa take the only available spacesuit, as he's indispensable to the mission. Sure, Mace earlier may have been feeling piqued and petty, Capa having pulled a bit of a careless dumb with regard to their window for sending messages home, but the fact here is that it's not my job to make Mace's excuses. It's Mr. Garland's job, and his script simply doesn't deliver.

Don't try to cover up the paper-thinness of your story by snowing us with special effects. It's insulting and annoying. Just how many useless beauty shots of the Icarus II does this movie contain, anyway? Not one of them helps us to know where we are on the ship. Also: if you can't afford the effects you wanted for your third-act mad slasher (did I already mention the "Don't ask." thing?), don't try to cover by shaking the camera and overexposing your shots every time said slasher is on screen. That takes "annoying" clear up to "blatantly irritating."

Smart people creating jeopardy by making dumb choices or nonsensically arbitrary decisions is less likely to evoke sympathy than smart people who find themselves in peril because of natural disasters or mechanical catastrophes. That is, a supposedly smart guy who makes a calculation that leads to half a spaceship going up in flames is less likely to earn a "You poor people!" from me than, say, a freak solar flare that leads to half of said spaceship going up in flames. And have I mentioned yet how much I despise selectively "smart" computers? As in, a computer that talks to you and calls you by name and yet can't tell you when half your spaceship has just caught on fire? (Not that it's entirely the computer's fault here, the fire thing: it happens during one of "Sunshine"'s many randomly placed beauty shots, so it's quite likely that the computer, like the viewing audience, isn't sure if the ship that catches fire is actually the Icarus II, the ship on which Our Story is taking place. "Oh, look: there's a ship on fire over there. Hey-- do you smell smoke...?")

Selective flammability: Not only do Capa and the film's Mystery Slasher not burn up when Capa, hoping to effect a desperate getaway, yells "Full sunlight!" in the observation lounge of the Icarus II, the lounge itself doesn't burn up. By comparison, when the show's nutter psychologist (again: don't ask) tries the "full sunlight" thing, he burns up just fine, thank you.

So: who gets the star? It's a split: Chris Evans, who tries so desperately to be the voice of reason (if only for a moment) on this ship of fools, and Underworld and John Murphy, who were obviously watching a much more intelligent, moving, and dramatic film when they concocted the score.

Even though it's rare to see a movie so lovingly misconceived, you'd be wise to give this a miss. Dumb, depressing, muddled, and thoroughly unentertaining.
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The spotted mind of the eternal Sunshine
gundognc13 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The combination of director Danny Boyle, writer Alex Garland and actor Cillian Murphy should have meant that Sunshine was the best film of the year so far. Sadly it's meaningless drivel.

There are two kinds of space movie. The first are those with shooting and/or aliens (Star Wars, Serenity, Alien etc). Then there are those in which the focus of the film is on people going mad in space for no well explained reason (Solaris, 2001, Silent Running etc). Sunshine falls into the latter category. If you've knowingly seen a Tarkofsky film then go and see Sunshine - you're bound to be able to find some spurious justification for why it was meaningful.


A group of ethnically diverse astronauts are in the final leg of the second and last mission to chuck a cosmic paint can into the sun in an attempt to "restart" it.

Nothing much happens until the crew discovers that the ship from the first mission is still orbiting the sun. The crew then decide that they'd rather be in "Alien" than "Solaris" and go to investigate. Naturally someone is still alive on the original spaceship. This surviving loony has a god-complex, a bad case of sunburn and the ability to blur film. He kills everyone except Cillian Murphy who manages to detonate the bomb and everyone on earth is saved - hooray.


1) Sentient super computers aren't very good at providing useful information such as "there's an extra person on board" or "shall we make sure the mirrors are adjusted before turning the ship?".

2) Vitally irreplaceable sections of space ships often explode and/or catch fire for no reason. Providing backup systems (or even fire extinguishers) is apparently pointless and unnecessary.

3) Computers that rely on complex liquid cooling devices to function do not require emergency shut offs. Or spares.

4) Gold lame space suits are in.

5) All derelict space ships should be investigated in case they contain plot devices.

6) If the sun is going out restarting it will be a doddle.

*End Spoiler*

There are some people who may decide this is THE in thing. Me, I'd rather watch Space Truckers again... and that's saying something. I'd give it some points for the special effects but really, given that none of them serve the story in any useful way, I cannot even justify that. 1/10
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Yes, us "fools" will compare Sunshine to Event Horizon, because finally there's a sci-fi movie with an even worse ending
sarastro728 March 2007
Warning: 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!

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knutt29 August 2007
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!
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Pretentious, plodding and absurd...
Aldaron7 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
What a pretentious, boring excursion this movie was! If people want to make films that consist of mood pieces, weird camera and lighting effects, and drawn-out character set-pieces, why oh why do they have to try and make them science fiction films? Red Planet was a good science fiction film. 2001: A Space Odyssey was a good science fiction film until the last five minutes. Sunshine doesn't even come close.

Apart from the absurd premise of the film (the sun is going out, so we'll go and set off a nuclear bomb inside it to fix it - yeah, that'll work!), there is absolutely no explanation as to why the crew of the Icarus I all died, nor why Pinbacker (sp??) went nuts and wanted to kill everyone...not to mention how he managed to survive on his own for six years with 3rd degree burns all over his body.

If it's called "science fiction", it should at least PRETEND to be somewhat scientifically accurate. Here's a hint or two for the film-makers: 1) People do not freeze do death in space. They asphyxiate. Vacuum is a terrific insulator, not conductor (which is why we use vacuum flasks to keep liquids hot or cold). You can only lose heat in space via radiation, not conduction or convection.

2) Only a lunatic would create a ship for 8 crew-members and rely on fruit & vegetables to produce oxygen. There are far more efficient ways of doing it using electricity - which should be plentiful considering how much solar energy was available!

3) Gravity is either produced by mass, or simulated by a rotating habitat. Good sci-fi films do not have "magical" gravity that suddenly switches on and drops everyone to the floor when the airlock re-pressurizes. It's fine in Star Trek or Star Wars, but it just looks stupid in an ostensibly "hard" sci-fi film.

Don't waste your time with this piece of drivel. It's two hours you'll never get back. Watch Red Planet or The Island if you want some decent science fiction...
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Danny Boyle successfully reignites the sci-fi genre!
soulmining19 March 2007
After reanimating the zombie genre with 28 Days Later, director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland now turn their attention towards science fiction - with equally startling results.

Sunshine is unequivocally the best sci-fi movie in a very, very long time. I'd echo the other comments on here - it mixes elements of 2001: A Space Oddessy with Event Horizon, then adds the tension of Alien. This is NOT the gung-ho action of Armageddon, The Core et al.

The film just throws you straight into the space mission, there's no background to worry about, only these 8 crew members headed towards the sun. The great thing about this cast is that there's no "superstar" billing, so you're never sure who is going to make it alive to the end of the film! The actors are uniformly good, with Chris Evans in particular deserving much praise. Michelle Yeoh delivers a very understated performance, very different from her ass-kicking Asian roles!

Danny Boyle has always been good with characters but with Sunshine he really steps up a level. Visually this film is astonishing and literally had me open mouthed at times. The production design, costumes, the sound design, the music from Underworld... they all combine to give the viewer an amazing cinematic experience that you'll want to watch for a second time, just to take it all in.

Whilst it's an exciting, tense film to watch there's no denying the serious point of Sunshine's message. It's a film about preserving the future of mankind and the sacrifices that have to be made in order to do that... and it will make you think long after the credits have rolled.

A fantastic achievement - one which deserves to be seen on the big screen when it opens worldwide. 9/10
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veidt189314 May 2007
Warning: 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....
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From Craigslist: Astronauts needed-emotionally challenged idiots preferred.
wesleydumont22 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Mankind's last best hope is a bunch of emotional hipster morons. Awesome.

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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Are you an angel? Has the time come? I've been waiting so long.
Spikeopath2 May 2009
We are in the not too distant future and the Sun is fading out. After a first mission to reignite it with a nuclear bomb fails, with the ship apparently lost in space, a new team are sent to try again. But it really isn't as simple as that...

Director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland team up once again for this sci-fi adventure thriller. For as long as I can personally remember, outer space and the planets that dwell within it, have always served us well for cinematic treats. Fears of the unknown and worries over the destruction of Earth, by and large make for great premise's. Not all films realise this potential of course, but it always makes for a great starting point. For his first venture into this realm, Boyle has gone for the Sun as his point of reference, and it makes for a marvellously claustrophobic picture that poses as many questions as it does answers. And even tho ultimately the science fiction aspects of it do not naturally add up, it's dazzling in its visuals and thought provoking into the bargain.

Boyle has never hid his influences and favourites from the public, and here he homages everything from Alien to Event Horizon, stopping for tea and crumpets at 2001s house along the way. But that is no bad thing, molding elements from great sci-fi past with his own intriguing story has given Sunshine a tremendous heart, to which Boyle then manages to cloak it with high quality drama. The crew are up there and we know that this is a genre piece and things invariably go wrong, this gives the discerning viewer an eager anticipation, a sense that one shouldn't go to the toilet for something will be missed. And Boyle lives up to the promise showed, such a pity then, that Boyle didn't let us get better acquainted with his characters at the start. Because then the impact would surely have doubled as each perilous and wrought scenario unfolded.

Having racked up the tension and intrigued us with the premise, expertly fusing CGI with his own craft work along the way, Boyle's Sunshine lives or dies by it's last quarter; depending on your proclivity of course. It has proved to be a most divisive point with critics and fans alike. To say it's a genre shift accompanied with implausibility is being a touch unkind I feel, this is after all a sci-fi picture about a ship going to reignite the Sun! Never the less it doesn't quite close the film triumphantly after the twists that preceded it, turns and explosions have lulled the viewers in, but personally it satisfies this entertained observer. Not in a big bang dynamic way, but in the way that asks me for a further thought process, and that may just be what Boyle and Garland envisaged when they sat down to make the film? Again, depending on your proclivity of course! 8.5/10
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Fascinating Film
slytherinsdoitbetter23 March 2007
I am not a sci-fi fan. I've seen a few sci-fi films, but I don't flock to the nearest cinema to check them out. The only one I own on DVD is Alien vs. Predator, and that's only because it was three bucks at the video store and I needed a fifth one. I haven't seen 2001 or Event Horizon, and I don't remember anything about Alien. I saw Armageddon in 1998, when I was eleven years old, and I just remember being embarrassed at that scene with the animal crackers.

That being said, this film may have turned me into one of the sci-fi fans. If nothing else—if seeing a film that explores more than just "action" on screen isn't your kind of thing—the film is gorgeous. The shots of the sun are some of the most fascinating bits of effects I have ever seen in any sort of film, not only sci-fi. The film is set only fifty years into the future, and therefore the technological aspects of the set are relatable rather than hard to imagine.

The characters are well developed, and the actors are top-notch. Every single performance is phenomenal, and I was even a bit taken aback by how much I enjoyed Chris Evans's portrayal of Mace. Everyone seems to have taken the time to learn about the science and about the psychological factors of being with the same people for so long (most likely due to the fact that Danny Boyle sort of forced them to), and it shows on screen. The characters are all real, and although none of us know what it would be like to be in space and alone for sixteen months, there are aspects of them all that are immediately relatable.

The plot is secondary. That doesn't mean that it isn't well thought or anything like that, but the human drama and psychological journey of the characters is the primary concern in the film, and the fact that they are going to re-ignite the sun is merely the background story that puts them all together in the first place. There are far more triggers that ask the audience to think about their life and the life of mankind and of the universe itself than there are for the audience to question, "Well, how did that just happen?" The film asks us to have a brain and be willing to use it.

Sunshine is a religious experience. It is very personal and is a very unique experience to each member of the audience. It is incredible, awe-inspiring, intense, and one of the most beautiful pieces of film I have ever seen. Danny Boyle, Alex Garland and Andrew Macdonald have done it again. A+.
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Everything I thought it would be. Pity.
kastanok1-16 April 2007
Warning: 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.
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Very overrated
LoDHom2 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
With a (currently) 7.3 user rating, I was looking forward to what I hoped would be a decent movie. What a letdown. I suppose I should have paid more attention to the reviewer that said, "One word of advice: this movie is not for nitpickers or physicist," yet still gave it 8 stars.

I'm neither a nitpicker nor a physicist, but as a reasonably intelligent person there are limits to how far I am willing to suspend disbelief. The whole premise of the movie is on very shaky ground: The sun is dying and the first mission to launch some kind of bomb into the sun failed, so mankind has sent the second, and this is our Last Hope.

Now, this bomb, whatever it's supposed to be and to do, is not really explained very well. I gather that the specifics are given here on IMDb and the movie's website; kind of odd to leave that out of the movie itself. I'm also not sure how a bomb with the mass of Manhattan is supposed to reignite the sun, which can fit 1,000,000 Earths inside of it, but then perhaps I'm being nit-picky.

The next thing that begs explanation is why they need to get so close to the sun to launch this bomb in the first place. Why not launch it from the vicinity of, say, Venus's orbit? We can make pinpoint unmanned landings on Mars, but a target the size of the sun seems to be a problem.

The physicist is the only one who knows how to properly turn the key and hit the launch button on the bomb (say what?), yet he is 'volunteered' to go on a dangerous spacewalk with no objections. Later on he is given the only spacesuit so that he is assured survival. Apparently his essentialness comes and goes.

After various implausible mishaps involving human error and a computer that only seems to correct these errors when it's in the mood, we learn that they only have enough oxygen for 4 people to make it to the launch point. Now, this ship is huge. I mean really, really big. It's also full of air. Remember Apollo 13, with 3 guys in the tiny capsule/lunar module? Even they had enough air to get back home. Yet, 5 people on this massive ship would use up all the O2 in less than a day.

I could go on a lot longer, and you can read other reviews for even more ludicrous problems with this script, but you get my drift here. Yes, visually the exterior shots are great, though random, without giving a sense of "where" things are happening. Looking pretty isn't enough to save this movie, however.
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Sunshine brightens careers and minds
chero0628 March 2007
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 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 ( 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 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.
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