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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.51%
Worth A Look55.13%
Average: 12.82%
Pretty Bad: 8.97%
Total Crap: 2.56%

7 reviews, 36 user ratings

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Sunshine (2007)
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by William Goss

"That Burning Sensation"
4 stars

Whilst en route to a screening of 'Sunshine,' the latest effort from director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland ('28 Days Later,' which also starred Cillian Murphy), a neighboring vehicle flaunted the following bumper sticker: “Gods don’t kill people. People with gods kill people.” That adage adequately sums up the film’s dichotomy, that of a story derivative of many other sci-fi offerings that aims for the spiritual and settles for the visceral, as effective a rip-off of 'Solaris' as it is of 'Event Horizon.'

In an effort to seemingly shrug off the inherently imitative nature of the proceedings to come, Boyle kicks the story off in media res, just as things are about to go so very wrong for the crew of the Icarus II (and aboard a spacecraft touting a name like that, the fact that awry awaits comes as little surprise). Its multicultural collection of eight scientists and engineers are strapped to the back of a bomb the size of Manhattan, riding their payload straight into the sun, Strangelove-style, in order to give it a much-needed spark and thus prevent the loss of all they hold dear back home on Earth.

Psych officer Searle (Cliff Curtis) may embrace the notion of light-as-life, but his peers – Murphy, Troy Garity (After the Sunset), Michelle Yeoh (Memoirs of a Geisha), Rose Byrne (28 Weeks Later), Benedict Wong (Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story), Chris Evans (the Fantastic Four films), and Hiroyuki Sanada (Rush Hour 3) – are reluctant to see the sun as anything but a crucial, yet imminently destructive objective. As ever-aggravated realist Mace (Evans) points out: “We’re delivering that payload because that star is dying, and if it dies, we die. Everything dies.”

The last of heartfelt goodbyes are swiftly dispatched, and romantic subplots (most probably between physicist Murphy and pilot Byrne) are wisely dodged, as Boyle eschews characterization in favor of circumstance; the scale, scope, and stakes of the mission and its fate promptly take priority because quite literally nothing else matters. The actors are all more than worthy of the material, but they inevitably take a collective backseat to the complications they’re to endure once the prospect of a second last chance endangers the crew and, more importantly, their mission.

Despite warning critics against spoiling too much of what exactly goes wrong, the promotional department of Fox Searchlight has seen fit to employ flashy internet ads, video clips, and extended trailers, all of which boast as to who dies and how. In spite of this highly irresponsible marketing angle, it is almost better to be made aware prior of the impending shift in tone, although never so explicitly. Admittedly a downshift from the direction the first half seemed to be headed in, it’s a little less jarring if one is aware going in, and no less nerve-wracking either way. This ensemble of smart people may end up in a relatively stupid situation, but the majestic visuals and ethereal score are not only enough to render matters highly watchable – perhaps more so without a single spoken word – but they allow for greater concessions in the feasibility of the second half that go avoided in the first.

Regardless of the climax’s literal manifestations on the spiritual conflict implicit throughout, it’s hard to deny that Boyle and Garland manage to take the most familiar sci-fi beats and make them exciting once more, the result of which is, for genre fans, a greatest hits collection that ends up merely good enough.

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originally posted: 08/08/07 07:05:23
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User Comments

12/25/14 Langano Laughable. 2 stars
5/04/11 the dork knight A bit chaotic in the third act, as mentia takes hold. I got lost. 4 stars
9/17/09 Silkworm Very atmospheric and arty - story a bit predictable 4 stars
7/14/09 Abhishek Chakraborty The users who've commented are right. The first 2/3 makes it awesome. bear with the rest 5 stars
1/14/09 Shaun Wallner Kept me on the edge of the seat! 4 stars
1/02/09 Jq Phenomenal sci-fi film. One of the best movies of the 2000s. 5 stars
10/21/08 David Hollands Borderline retarded. Boyle proves he has as much storytelling intelligence as my pet rock. 2 stars
9/04/08 Charles Tatum Familiar, but done to perfection 5 stars
8/28/08 mr.mike Agree with SJ,Chris and Ivana...unfortunately they're right. 4 stars
3/07/08 NWANKWO OK Best scientific adventure film,if the scene can happen in real life. 5 stars
3/01/08 Ivana Mann Intelligent, atmospheric chiller. Too bad the ending sucked ass...could've been perfect! 4 stars
2/02/08 Chris Fantastic film up to the last 25 minutes. 4 stars
1/27/08 SJ Great for 2/3 of movie. Falls apart after that. Too bad!!! 4 stars
1/24/08 Rick Good first 2/3. Rest was rather mundane "slasher" type movie that negated the merits of th 2 stars
1/22/08 gcc great visuals/direction.But very much like Event Horizon 4 stars
1/21/08 Brian Mckay Gorgeous and stunning Sci-Fi epic. One of the best films that nobody saw in 'O7 4 stars
1/12/08 Servo Freaking awsome, smart, suspensful and just gorgeous to look at. 4 stars
1/02/08 MickJ interesting premise, ruined by one dimensional characters and horror. 2 stars
12/10/07 aleta great movie 5 stars
12/04/07 Matt Goes off the rails with a daft subplot in the last 30 mins or so. Good, otherwise. 3 stars
11/15/07 Alice If I want to see video clips, I'll watch MTV 1 stars
10/17/07 Will Brilliant. 5 stars
10/08/07 steve newman A remarkable twist after one hour - woul dhave been better to leave same pace - still go se 4 stars
9/11/07 damalc Alien + 2001 + Altered States 4 stars
9/09/07 daveyt enjoyable, but couldn't help feeling I'd seen it all before 3 stars
9/08/07 Chris J. Truely impressive film, despite 3rd act being slightly disjointed. 5 Stars. 5 stars
8/12/07 Gary G started out verey interesting, but the last 20 minutes or so were way too confusing 3 stars
8/11/07 Eric The best sci-fi adventure in years. Fantastic movie. 5 stars
8/07/07 Private Filmmaking surpassed the story. But some impressive scenes. 4 stars
8/01/07 SciFi All the science, and none of the fiction. Ultimately many failed opportunities. 2 stars
7/31/07 Vagile A truly gorgeous film 5 stars
7/30/07 Crispin Some stumbles but it has more than enough to pull it through to the end. 5 stars
7/29/07 Elizabeth S Starts off so promisingly, but totally blows the third act. 2 stars
7/28/07 Ole Man Bourbon Event Horizon Part Deux 3 stars
7/20/07 Doug What a mess. Pretentious clap-trap AND a haunted-house slaughter. No, thanks. 1 stars
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  20-Jul-2007 (R)
  DVD: 08-Jan-2008

  05-Apr-2007 (15)

  12-Apr-2007 (M)

[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Danny Boyle

Written by
  Alex Garland

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

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