Sunshine – Excellent Sci-Fi For a Change!

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 01:  (L-R) Director Dan...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Hi all…

Have to share with you a recent discovery; one that I’d read a couple of reviews of in entertainment/movie magazines, but hadn’t really considered until I added it to my Netflix queue and it showed up the other day… It is Sunshine, from director Danny Boyle, starring Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Chris Evans, and others…


What if the sun was dying out and we had to restart it? Sunshine deals with the second desperate Icarus mission to restart the sun and save mankind. Think the brilliance 2001: A Space Odyssey meets the smart storytelling of 28 Days Later and you have the barest image of this movie. Not since 2001 have I seen such a smart, well written, and well performed movie with special effects.

Here’s the IMDB link:

Sunshine Poster

Cillian Murphy was in Danny Boyle’s first directorial effort – 28 Days Later — and has been in a variety of other movies since then, including Batman Begins (as the Scarecrow, which he will be reprising in The Dark Knight), Red Eye, the Wind that Shakes the Barley, and others. He plays the haunted physicist Robert Capa, who created the device that will theoretically restart the sun.

Michelle Yeoh, has been in more movies than I can count, including the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies, Memoirs of a Geisha, and the upcoming Mummy movie Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. She plays Corazon, who maintains the Icarus’ oxygen garden and food source.

And Chris Evans, who has played the Human Torch in the last two Fantastic Four movies, has never really seemed to be much of an actor. But his portrayal of Mace, one of the pilots of the Icarus, changed my mind. This character is VERY different from Johnny Storm and quite a revelation. As Yoda would say, “Pleasantly surprised, I was.”

The rest of the cast does a great job, but it’s the ensemble as a whole who pulls off the movie.

The special effects were excellent and only played a minimal part in the movie. One of the issues I have with many modern science fiction movies is that the SFX take over, making the rest of the parts of the movie — characters, story, plot — immaterial. (Which, let’s face it, sometimes is the point. Though I loved Transformers, it was because it didn’t make you think — it was just fun to watch.) Sunshine made the special effects simply the setting for the movie and never made them try and take center stage.

So I’ve been gushing over this movie and I only have one nitpick. Nowhere in the movie do they describe why there is artificial gravity on the ship. It’s just taken for granted. The ship as a whole is not rotating (like in 2001) to cause centrifugal force and thus a limited gravitational field of a simulated earth. Maybe they have another device on board using superconductors as was reported a couple of years ago in Slashdot (

At any rate… This is the best intelligent science fiction movie I’ve seen in a very long time. I recommend it to anybody who likes good stories and anyone who likes great science fiction. I happily give it a strong 4 out of 4.

Rent it and let me know what you think!

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  1. Really? Well, just proves why there’s a variety of movies out there. Everybody likes something different. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have you seen any good sci-fi recently that you would recommend?

  2. How does this qualify as “smart” science fiction? Alex Garland does nothing but treat these characters– who are supposed to be the best and brightest the world has to offer– as complete idiots. They’re incapable of following the chain of command, they make stupid decisions that fly in the face of their mission, and they’re completely lacking in common sense. Garland wants nothing more than to serve them up on a platter in the name of cheap drama– and he does. (Don’t get me started on Cillian Murphy’s “touching” final scene.) “Galaxy Quest” was a hundred times the sci-fi movie that “Sunshine” is. Even “The Fifth Element” had more brains, heart, and humor. My number one recommendation: re-watch “Alien” and “Blade Runner” and realize that Danny Boyle isn’t even a poor man’s Ridley Scott.

  3. Wow. What a polarized response. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think it’s intelligent for a number of reasons… 1) They don’t focus on the SFX over the story. 2) The story is character-driven, which IMHO makes the plot more organic. 3) The human race is capable of stupid decisions.

    That said, I enjoyed it. Maybe that’s just me. ๐Ÿ™‚ That doesn’t mean that I didn’t also enjoy The Fifth Element, which is one of my all time faves, nor the great Galaxy Quest, which makes fun of sci-fi in a light-hearted way without making it stupid.

    And yes, I just received the Alien trilogy (I’ll skip #3, have rewatched #2 already and forgot how much I loved it when I was younger, and look forward to being scared by Alien for the first time in years)… And Blade Runner is a classic without equal.

    Thanks for chiming in!

  4. Thanks Fitz for you comment on my site. I will definitely try to pick up Across The Universe this weekend and then let you know what I think. Have you seen it yet?

  5. Hi Jean! You’re very welcome. You were nice enough to comment here, so I thought I’d do the same. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And no, I haven’t had a chance to rent Across the Universe yet. Should be in the next set of three I get back from Netflix (have Are We Done Yet? (which should be awful), A Good Year ( which will hopefully be good), and Dragon Wars (which will be total cheese) coming at the moment). We can compare notes in a week or two when I get a chance to watch. ๐Ÿ™‚

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