The year is 2057 and our sun is dying. A spacecraft named Icarus I failed in a previous mission to reignite the sun by dropping a payload onto its surface. Seven years later, another crew (an international cast including Cillain Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Rose Byrne, and Chris Evans) aboard the Icarus II, attempting another payload drop, hear something coming from their control panel. Apparently, there is still life on Icarus I. This is the premise to director Boyle’s latest film Sunshine, a very ambitious but ultimately disappointing sci-fi film.
The set-up for Sunshine, a conventional sci-fi thriller has a few nice moments in the film’s first act, but it also steals from a half dozen other American sci-fi films within that time. Even though sci-fi films ask for a leap of faith, it won’t take even an active film viewer long to ask, “When is something going to happen?” I found myself asking this question many times, and I’m a patient viewer.
From the opening sequence of Sunshine, director Danny Boyle and production designer Mark Tildesley provide beautiful and intricate images. Unfortunately, the visuals don’t make up for the bland scientific jargon that comes out of each character’s mouth, slowly becoming the film’s downfall. The eventual demise of Sunshine starts about 45 minutes into the film as it fails to provide a comprehensible story. We’ve seen outside of the spacecraft about a dozen times, a spectacular view on the big screen, but we don’t know whether the crew is making progress or floating in the same spot. Working together, director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland worked wonders twice before (three times if you include Garland’s novel, The Beach), and redefined a genre with their zombie thriller 28 Days Later, but this time around, they just seemed to run out of air.
When the big revelation does come, close to an hour into the film, the film becomes a tired retread of several dull slasher films.
Although Sunshine starts as a thought-provoking film about the atmosphere, life, and our own psyche, it unfortunately becomes bogged down into a drawn-out, mundane thriller where everything, including our own minds, gets lost in space.
Jim Brunzell III is an avid moviegoer and freelance film critic living in the Twin Cities. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org