Danny Boyle's psychological sci-fi thriller set 50 years in the future. Follows a team of astronauts on route to a dying sun. The giver of all life on earth is dying and the astronauts are delivering a bomb that to fire it up. The journey sees the eight men and women battle for their lives and their sanity.

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50 years in the future and there’s a solar winter on earth, sun is dying. Crew sent on sun-bound spaceship with bomb to re-ignite her, that failed, second crew sent on second spaceship (the pessimistically named Icarus II), to remedy the situation. This is where we find ourselves at the beginning of Danny Boyle’s 'Sunshine'. First of all, it’s refreshing to not start with grown men weeping as they leave their girlfriends, no baby head kissing goodbyes, just begin on the damn ship. Good start.

The journey is fraught with peril, problems, perspiration and psychological stymieing. It can get pretty whack up there, I can tell you. Isolation and 'what is our point?'-type questions seem exasperated a billion miles or whatever from earth. As Icarus II gets closer, the film busies itself with the psychological impact, on the astronauts, of approaching the giver of life on earth.

Also refreshing is the international cast. A mix of accents from even NZ, there’s Cliff Curtis, rising Irish star Cillian Murhpy as the ship’s scientist, ship captain Hiroyuki Sanada (a stand out), also Michelle Yeoh & Aussie Rose Byrne.

Sunshine is a "sophisticated" sci-fi if you will – certainly more concerned with drama and existential questions than special effects (which are nonetheless, or perhaps because of this, spectacular). Wearing its inspiration on its sleeve, it’s very much more '2001: A Space Odyssey' and 'Solaris' and very much less 'Armageddon'-type rubbish.

Whilst it took me 20 minutes or so to get into the groove - where there’s a bit of exposition and hammyness - 'Sunshine's intensity wins you over. This is thanks to the films claustrophobia, Boyle’s skills in white-knuckled thrills & action, and it all being underpinned by grand sound design and a powerful, near perfect score by Underworld (whose music also features in Boyle’s 'Trainspotting' & 'The Beach').

If you’re going to see it, see at the cinemas to do it justice. I don’t even much like sci-fi films, but found 'Sunshine' a dizzying opus – at times frustrating in its ambiguity, but mesmerising to the end. It's also got awesome space suits.

[Reviewed by Ed]

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 9 ratings, 9 reviews
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An intense and beautiful film. One of my favorites.

This film is great, maybe hyped out... but so intense. The sound design or whatever you'd call it was amazing - blasted me away.

Best film I've seen this year.

Since I saw this the first day it came out, I had only seen short trailers that didn’t show the psychotic evil character that is a large part of the third act of this movie. Expecting a “Serenity” meets “Apollo 13” brand of film, I was surprised that it spun a complete 180 ? way through.
Murphy- seems to be the 1 person that actually has any part other than to appear for basic dialogue, & does a fantastic job. He draws you in and makes you a part of the film instead of an... More outsider watching a fantastic farce of futuristic muck. The snag was the introduction of “Pinbacker”, the 3rd act just came across as nonsensical as if 1/2 way through they duct taped 2 separate movie negatives together & figured no one would notice.
The final fight looked more something out of a Tetrus or Atari game instead of a fight scene & while for the entire 2nd act Pinbacker is shown to be just a man, albeit a tad insane, the 3rd act portrays him like a god, immune to the same tactics that have killed others.Hide

To be fair I thought it deserved a 2.5 but have had to go on the lighter side of the scale. I love a good thriller and the odd sci-fi film never goes amiss... but somehow the twists (that you could see coming a mile off) managed to be either ridiculously obvious or just obviously ridiculous. One "twist" in particular lacked any innovation and seemed a random attempt at adding a 'scary' element. Dumb.

Special effects and an appeal at ones sense of humanity clawed this flick into the... More "satisfactory" category for me...

What may have ruined the experience was reading such glowing reviews before going! So If you are going to watch it, lower your expectations and you might be pleasantly surprised.Hide

Spoilers herein!

To start with, this is NOT my kind of film. Danny Boyle's most famous flick, 'Trainspotting', is dear to my heart because while showing characters go through inhuman and bizarre circumstances, Boyle manages to keep them personal and accessible. 'Sunshine' is just the opposite. He deliberately distances us from the characters, so that we watch their various grisly fates with clinical interest, but nothing more. As the kind of person who cries during life insurance ads, I... More didn't even sniffle-- nor was I supposed to. Like the original Alien movie, it was 'I wonder who'll survive?', not 'Please please don't make her die!'.

And people did die, and they mostly died in beautiful, creative ways which gave 'Sunshine's cinematographer a chance to show his stuff, and explore of a bit of the nurture/deadly dichotomy of sunshine, which of course was the heart of the film. Visually, this was presented well--there were some gorgeous sun images, and the gold shields on the ship made a memorable image. Thematically, I found it patchier. I understood that these people had been on the ship a long time and were perhaps a little damaged, but after the first few people had faced their blazing deaths by embracing the sunlight and letting it wash over them like some quasi-religious experience, it began to wear a little thin. Then to find, instead of the Solaris-esque climax I was expecting, that the villian in question was simply a space-happy human--! I'm not sure what would have been less cheesy (angels? aliens? insanity? It's all been done!), but it was disappointing nevertheless, and jarred with the rest of the film. 'Sunshine's strength was portraying the creepiness and danger of a space, an environment; to have a human suddenly become the Big Bad rather cheapened the effect.

My other main beef is with the ending--it was frankly confusing. I'd wondered if it was just me with my non-technical, non-spatial mind, but none of my friends after the movie could give satisfactory explanations as to who was where or what was going on. With little idea of what was happening scientifically and spatially, and no emotional investment in the characters, it was hard to stay interested. (That said, I'm very glad the film didn't show the Folks Back Home biting their lips a la Liv Tyler--perhaps there's something to be said for bleakness after all).

I give the film a three, for the visuals, stylishness and a few perenially-fascinating, if shallowly-explored, questions about humanity. You know, the sort you get in Ethics 101... Who Dies If. I'm a sucker for that. :) But I won't be watching it again, and a few of the flaws were gaping. Then again, as I said... it's not my kind of film.Hide

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The Press Reviews

74% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • BBC

    A liaison with the ship of a previous mission that had mysteriously disappeared, tips events into a confusion of horror movie shocks and generally unexplained weirdness. The idea is to send you out perplexed, but chattering over possible solutions, but the salty authenticity that made it so rich is lost in space, and a superb sci-fi movie becomes merely a very decent one... Full Review

  • Aside from a last minute blip this is knuckle-gnawingly tense, gloriously handsome action-horror... Full Review

  • Converting the nuclear sword into a ploughshare is not, however, as easy as that: and the movie also suggests a terrible and unalterable act of hubris in trying to augment the sun's fissile energy with a big bang of our own - or an unconscious, ambiguous kind of thanatos. Rather than endure a slow fadeout as the sun runs down, we will gamble on blowing it and everything else in the universe to kingdom come in one supremely risky act of helio-deicide. Superbly photographed by Alwin Kuchler and designed by Mark Tildesley, Sunshine is a thrilling and sensual spectacle.... Full Review

  • But it remains compelling thanks to the acting and being technically convincing to the end. And for all that abundant solar glare, it's at its brightest as it attempts to illuminate some very big ideas... Full Review

  • Boyle builds relationships and tension swiftly and successfully. The film is visually very cool, the stunning sets coupled with very stylish CGI make this movie gorgeous to look at... Full Review