Danny Boyle starts Sunshine off very much like previous science fiction film 28 days Later. He deserts Cillian Murphy in a vast area surrounded by nothing. With him are fellow spaceship crewmembers Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh and Cliff Curtis predominantly. Their mission is one of those big film plots that sucks you in by making you wonder "what if..." In this case "what if the sun was really dying and we were stuck in an ice age." It helps to combat that absurdity of the plot description "a crew of astronauts travel to the sun to throw a bomb into it."
There are many scenes of the crewmembers talking. Talking about their lives. Talking about the sun. Talking about physics. It's strangely riviting. It was nice to finally have another science fiction film that focused on, you know, science. Listen up directors - it's just fiction if you don't put a bit of science in there. Anyway. In on particularly scary scene that mixed Aliens with The Exorcist (you'll understand why when you see it) the crew board another spaceship found sitting around in space sending off distress calls. It freaked me the fuck out! Creepy!
In terms of the technical side, it's pretty top notch. The cinematography is small-scale but effective, as is the editing and production design. The music by John Murphy, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith is amazing. At times bold and bombastic, and at other times subtle and emotive. Performances are solid too. Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans and Hiroyuki Sanada all show various stages of male bravado, while Rose Byrne is effective as the Pilot. I personally liked Michelle Yeoh's passionate bio-chemist (or whatever she was). But then, Michelle Yeoh is always appreciated. She always seems so professional and steely.
The first half of Sunshine is great stuff. B+
There is one scene, ney one line of dialogue, in which the film turns from an amazing and smartly tuned slowburner in space into a ridiculous cliched mess. I mean MESS with a capital M, E, S and S. It's really unfortunate, but there it is. Sticking out like a sore thumb. I want to kill this scene. I want to ask screenwriter Alex Garland what the hell he was thinking. I want to try and erase it from my memory it is so stupid and dumbheaded and... ugh. WHY? Why did they do this to me?
Essentially, it turns into one big fat mind-fuck horror movie. But not the good kind. This is the kind that doesn't make any sense. Characters seemingly jump from one ship to another seemingly not comprehending that there's no explanation as to how. Characters run around the sets followed by way way way over-the-top shaky camerawork and I lose all sense of what the hell was going on. I stopped even trying to understand what the going on. I mean, suddenly they're walking around inside the bomb and then suddenly Rose Byrne appears? I dunno. It doesn't make a lick of sense.
It's a shame that it did it, and in the really obvious way too. It could have turned into a tight and scary Alien type thriller, but instead it sank into a ridiculous hyper edited horror special effects extravaganza. I... I... ugh. There's just too much stupid stuff to even comprehend. I just wanna ask "why did..." "who did..." what was that..." "why was he putting his hand through the wall of fire inside the bomb" (yeah, it doesn't make sense in context either). I guess it could have been saved if the editing didn't go hog wild on us they kept the pyrotechnics to a minimum.
And seriously, why does Cillian Murphy jump into the sun only to magically appear in the next scene on the spaceship? Clearly I missed a lot. Ugh. C
So, for the entire thing, I give it a B-. Because even though it sounds like the second half is terrible, it's still watchable in that it's still fascinating to sit there watching it unfold as Danny Boyle just keeps throwing things at the screen (the image room was totally underused by the way), even if I was wondering what the hell was going on and hoping I eventually caught on. It's just not very well made. The first half is though. Exceptionally. It's just disappointing that so much good work went to waste.
Also, see this movie at the cinema. Because I can't even begin to imagine how terrible of an experience it would be to see it for the first time on DVD. Sorry this "review" was so slapshot. I figure a messy film deserves a messy review. Plus I'm just typing this off the cuff and I'm tired and hungry and I'm going now.
Lastly, for a scarily similar review of Sunshine (seriously!) check out Victim of the Time. It's one of those reviews where having seen it I now go "YES!" at, like, every sentence.