14 08 2007

A whopping 13 other filmgoers and I caught tonight’s prime-time showing of Sunshine, the sci-fi film that—somehow or other—has landed on the art-house circuit. I liked it; you should see it.

Sunshine tells the store of an eight-member international crew sent on a desperate mission to re-charge the dying sun. The first half of the film is simply amazing. The visuals and special effects are especially spectacular. Naturally enough, the sun in Sunshine is ever-present and beautiful. The crew’s spacecraft, the Icarus II, is stunning, too: The crew’s psych officer spends an time on a breathtaking observation deck, while the on-board biologist maintains an oxygen farm a botanical garden that rivals any on, erm, our planet.

Unfortunately, the film doesn’t quite live up to its early promise or its top-notch effects. At some point in the second half, the crew makes a decision that didn’t strike me as likely—but, hey, I was still game. That plot device leads, though, to something still more implausible: On a spacecraft containing eight of Earth’s best and brightest, wouldn’t somebody (or, silly me, the sophisticated on-board computer) be double-checking critical flight changes?

And even if I was willing to accept that kind of error—after all, humans are flawed planners—I just couldn’t accept the film’s final plot twist. I won’t spoil it here, except to say that Sunshine, which first had me convinced it was a 2001: A Space Odyssey-caliber film, suddenly had me remembering some pretty mediocre horror flicks. Blame for that has to be placed on director Danny Boyle and scriptwriter Alex Garland.

You’ll still want to see Sunshine. It’s a fun ride, and the acting (Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, and others) is competent. And, of course, you’ll want to see Sunshine on the big screen. Even when the plot starts falling apart, the visuals remain.

I’d give Sunshine two-and-a-half or three stars.




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