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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sunshine

How would we cope under the most extreme circumstances imaginable? That is the question posed by Danny Boyle's latest offering, and the answer seems to be that anybody can be pushed over the edge, it is just a question of what and how much it takes.

Danny Boyle seems unable to settle on a genre specialty, but it also seems that whatever he turns his hand to he can make work (with the exception of romantic comedy - A Life Less Ordinary anyone?). In his latest, the sun is dying, and we join the 2nd attempt to try and restart the star by delivering a nuclear bomb to kick-start it. Having been alone in space for the past 16 months, the eight-man crew is approaching its destination, but nerves are starting to fray. Then they pick up a signal rom the ship that made the first, unsuccessful, attempt. Inevitably they go and investigate, and problems ensue. When the inevitable disaster occurs, jeopardising the mission, we begin to see how people deal with extreme circumstances, and how their sanity is affected, in different ways. Elements are recognisable from Alien, Solaris and Event Horizon, and the film certainly benefits from all of those influences. The claustrophobia, the understated technology, the dark corridors, the unseen menace, all recognisable but effectively used.

This is not a typical science fiction per se. There are no aliens, no space battles, and no ultra-advanced technology on show. Instead Boyle chooses a more philosophical tangent, leading to questions of exactly what defines humanity, and the value of a single life weighed against the future of mankind.

The casting is excellent, with many recognisable but no particularly famous faces, the biggest names being Batman Begins' Cillian Murphy and Fantastic Four's Chris Evans. This lack of star names, combined with a cast of only the eight crew somehow makes the loneliness and the feeling of being a huge distance from home with a long way to go seem even more real. We really begin to feel with the crew as they try to hold it together long enough to complete their vital mission. Cillian Murphy in particular is a piece of inspired casting, as in many of his roles he has always appeared on the very brink of insanity anyway, so he has the close-to-crazy act down to a tee.

The CGI of the sun is extremely impressive, particularly considering the relatively low budget of the film, and the simple but intense story has viewers on the edge of the seat virtually from first act to last. The suspense is built gradually but extremely effectively, to the extent where you can feel your sanity heading the way of the astronauts' as the conclusion approaches with increasing speed.

Overall a very effective study in what a tenuous thing sanity is when faced with huge odds and a great threat. Thrilling, gripping and thought-provoking, and another genre nailed by Boyle - now if only he could crack that pesky rom-com!

12 comments:

  1. I definitely check this out,, it's awesome when a sci-fi film avoids using cliches and does something creative.

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  2. nice review have to check it out

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  3. "Sunshine, Lollipops And Rainbows..."

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  4. Watched this movie a ways back, still impressed with the visuals.

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  5. Love this movie with a passion!

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  6. This movie is just too boring for me . 3/10

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  7. will be sure to give it a watch

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  8. Watched this film a while back, wasn't too impressed by the science though :/

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