(No longer in theaters)
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Jul 27, 2007
As they proved in their last collaboration, 28 Days Later, the director Danny Boyle and the writer Alex Garland can steal from everyone and still make you feel as if they’re blazing new ground. That last film played like all of George Romero’s Living Dead pictures jammed together and pixelated—but it was good! So is Sunshine, in which they’ve taken 2001 and Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Silent Running, mixed in stuff from save-the-earth pictures like The Core and Deep Impact, and thrown in a cheesy climax out of Alien. The first hour and change is gangbusters, the last part unnerving enough to get by.
The best thing they do is put the eeriness back into space travel. Our team of astronauts and scientists is en route to the dying sun with some kind of massive nuclear bomb—they’re going to put a sun inside the sun. (I haven’t checked the science, but presumably it’s quite sound.) (Kidding.) The sun is a mystical object: It magnetizes people as it incinerates them, and it gives the reflective panels on the long ship (and the pressure suits) a golden radiance. It bestows life, and it drives people crazy. The ambient score by John Murphy and Underworld is hypnotic and ominous—like solar winds converted into music.
Sunshine is overheated—a compliment and, later, a dig. Boyle mixes streaky, tricked-up, disorienting close-ups with longer establishing shots, but in the climax, it’s hard to sort out the images; the thing is almost abstract. By then, most of the characters have either heroically sacrificed themselves or been murdered. Happily, we still have Cillian Murphy, whose otherworldly blue eyes make him just about the coolest space protagonist imaginable.