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A challenging sci-fi adventure
Chris Evans in Danny Boyle's "Sunshine".
OPENING WEEKEND: $16,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $52,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

April 26th, 2006: Fifty years in the future, the sun is dying, and the earth and its inhabitants are dying with it. Seven years have passed since several crewmembers on board the “Icarus” disappeared without a trace while on a mission to save the planet. Eight scientists on board the “Icarus II,” some from America, the rest from China, represent the earth’s final hope. They are carrying a massive bomb, the size of Kansas, which will be used to reignite a part of the dying sun. Deep into their journey, with radio contact far out of reach, the group begins to make critical mistakes. Their voyage becomes even stranger when they pick up a distress signal from the original “Icarus.” Suddenly, they must struggle to keep their sanity if they hope to have a chance to complete their mission.

What to Expect: Cult British director, Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, Millions) re-teams with screenwriter Alex Garland for Sunshine. The two collaborated twice before, the first time on the rather unusual Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle, The Beach. However, the last time the two worked together, they hit a home run with the internationally acclaimed survivalist horror 28 Days Later… Much like George Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead, the film combined frightening zombie mayhem with more than just a touch of social commentary. It was a searing vision, and arguably Boyle’s second best film after the wildly original Trainspotting, which took the entire world by storm with its hip, darkly funny, and sometimes painfully grave look at the drug induced culture. Easily, Boyle is one of the most exciting filmmakers working today, able to inject the most off beat and ingeniously innovative moments even into family films, like his last venture, the beloved, but not widely seen, Millions. That’s why another partnership with Alex Garland is being observed with great enthusiasm, particularly since their first attempt at science fiction appears destined to become their most ambitious and conceptual project yet.

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The cast in Sunshine possesses an international following that will undoubtedly help the film in many diverse markets. Chris Evans is landing more leading man roles following his two highly successful films, Cellular (from the director of Snakes on a Plane) and the Fantastic Four (for which a sequel is currently in the works). Cillian Murphy finally made a breakthrough in America thanks to his major part in 28 Days Later… The actor scored two huge roles last year, one in the surprising late summer hit Red Eye, and the second as the “Scarecrow” in the blockbuster Batman Begins. He seems like a perfect fit in Sunshine. After a five year absence from American cinemas following her Oscar worthy performance in Crouching Tiger, Hidden dragon, Michelle Yeoh returned in last year’s visually gorgeous, but ultimately disappointing Memoirs of a Geisha. Yeoh is more than just a martial arts action star and her presence should exude a level of class and sophistication. Perhaps the finest actor of them all, however, is the incredibly diverse Cliff Curtis. His name may not seem familiar, but surely you’ve seen him before in one of his character transformations in films like Bringing Out the Dead, Training Day, or Whale Rider. I’m excited to see the New Zealander score a deserved part in Sunshine.

By quoting films like Wolfgang Peterson’s Das Boot and Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear as their inspirations, the filmmakers are clearly hoping to convey the same claustrophobic tension. Sunshine appears destined to become a psychological thriller, a study of human behavior in total isolation, away from the comforts and intimacy of earth. Hopefully, if it succeeds, it will become a thought-provoking picture, complete with existential reflections along the lines of 2001: A Space Odyssey or Solyaris. The filmmakers have hinted that like those great films, Sunshine might not only be an exploration of space, but also an exploration of humanity. The movie will probably represent a journey into the unknown – the unsettling feeling of drifting alone in a vacuum, and the effects it has on the human psyche. Overall, I feel that the film may fall short of reaching the same depths as 2001: A Space Odyssey, having more in common with other, more adventurous sci-fi visions, like Ridley Scott’s Alien. In terms of visuals, it is likely to match the best of what we have seen up to this point. A lot of interesting behind-the-scenes material can be found at the film’s website.

In Conclusion: Sunshine seems poised to become another sci-fi classic and yet another cult hit for director Boyle, as it should receive a positive worldwide response from movie lovers. The content should be stimulating enough to recall the best science fiction films to mind, but the plot logistics will probably remain accessible for most viewers to enjoy on any level. I think that it will strive for something grandiose, but I’m not sure that it will succeed. Either way, I hope that it will maintain a sense of mystery, giving the most perceptive film buffs some lingering themes to debate and ponder.

Similar Titles: Alien, Solaris, Gattaca
July 20th, 2007 (limited)
January 8th, 2008 (DVD)

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Danny Boyle

Chris Evans, Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong

Total: 176 vote(s).

Science Fiction, Suspense

Click here to view site

Rated R for violent content and language.

107 min





Sunshine at RottenTomatoes.com

Sunshine at AskMen.com

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