Friday, October 23, 2009

Sunshine (2007)
UK/ USA --- science fiction/ horror
Dir: Danny Boyle

Science fiction has always been a genre where you could relatively tell stories with more than one meaning. Since before World War 2, scientists and writers really began to consider and imagination the possibility of space travel and life on other planets. The final frontier was really becoming the next great possibilty. With that, many fantasy creators had no problem imagining scenarios that were either beneficial to mankind, or horrorifc.

Danny Boyle's space exploration film Sunshine is really more of an amalgam of a lot of space films, that include 2001: A Space Odyssey and even Alien. If you've been following these films this month, you see that Sunshine has the earmarks of this subgenre. A manned space mission with a mixed ragtag crew that seems to have two women only and must follow-up an earlier manned space mission that went awry from some reason. This film is no different, albeit with a more desperate and urgent mission.
The plot here, seems to take a cue from the Twilight Zone episode "Midnight Sun", which suggested a horrorific scenario in which the sun moved dangerously too close to the earth, when in actuality it was moving farther away. Actually a little more plausible than this films premise, but not by much. Set in the year 2057, here we have the crew of the aptly named Icarus II comprised of various scientists must save a dying Sun by launching a bomb onto the Sun's surface in hopes of reigniting it. The crew of the original space mission, Icarus I, mysteriously disappeared without a trace. When the crew finally get a distress beacon from Icarus I, Captain Kaneda (played by Ringu's Hiroyuki Sanada) questions physicist Robert Capa (played by Cillian Murphy) if answering should they change course. Capa suggests using the Icarus I payload would increase the chance to reignite the Sun, so the decision is made. Meanwhile, Kaneda uncovers a strange message from Icarus I's Captain Pinbacker who has been become increasingly obsessed the Sun.

The closer they get to the Sun, the body count goes up, as Capa discovers Pinbacker is still alive and has become completely sun-burnt and insane and begins killing crew members and sabotaging the mission. Capa must try to escape Pinbacker, launch the stellar bombs into the sun, and save the earth from an eternal solar winter.

Now, this is more of a straight and narrow sci-fi film, the only thing is, it does kinda turn into slasher film in space. The parable here is closely aligned to the Biblical tale of the Tower of Babel. Wherein there is clearly a danger of humanity's reach into outerspace in general, the sun should seem completely off limits, and is not without its consequences for those who seek to venture too closely. These attributes all seem to make Sunshine an entertaining film. With a talented ensemble cast and versatile director Danny Boyle at the helm, it's no surprise that it hits all of its marks.