3:03 pm PHT

It’s been a very long time since I last saw a science-fiction film and I can’t even remember offhand the last one I did see. So it was a breath of fresh air that I managed to catch the screening of Sunshine a few weeks ago. Essentially, the movie is about the journey of spaceship Icarus II and its crew of eight to the sun to revive it by igniting a massive stellar bomb. While the film is primarily science fiction (which some have compared to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey), there are large elements of drama and action incorporated into the movie. I pretty much liked the movie.  :)

First, the premise of the movie is quite impossible—the sun dying 50 years into the future, leaving the earth into a terminal ice age—but it’s quite easy to dismiss it since we are drawn immediately into the story. As I said the movie is part drama, because we are witness to the psychological effects to the crew of isolation from earth for months. An unsolved mystery was that seven years prior, Icarus was sent on the same mission but failed in their mission and was never heard from again. Icarus II was therefore sent.

On the approach to Mercury, Icarus II heard the distress beacon of Icarus and they decided to rendezvous with it to get a second bomb, in case the one they’re carrying was not enough or did not work. Almost immediately, things unravel and begin to jeopardize their mission. (Maybe they shouldn’t have named their ships Icarus.)

The movie’s multinational cast consisted of primarily lesser known actors and actresses, with only the names of Chris Evans and Michelle Yeoh jumping at me. This effectively leads the viewer to avoid being figuratively starstruck and instead be literally starstruck with the sun and to be more engaged with the plot. I found the acting quite superb.

What I liked most about the film is it’s really excellent visuals. While the cinematography is nowhere near as beautiful as 300, it’s very much pretty in it’s own way and the mood and sense of alienation is enhanced by low-key ambient music. The scene where Mercury transits in front of the blazing sun is especially notable.

On the other hand, the last third of the movie, which is essentially a mini suspense/thriller, detracted quite a bit from the overall appeal of the movie. Then again, without that element, the movie would’ve been boring as hell, and we would not have learned why Icarus failed in their mission. I just wish that the blockbuster-ish-ness was toned down a bit. (Digression: I haven’t seen this mentioned elsewhere before now, but the film subtly plays out the religion vs. science debate card: if the sun is dying, is it God’s will and should we stop it?)

The film very much reminds me most of Solaris, the science much more believable than either Armageddon or The Core. Overall, I’d recommend that you see this film at least once, since it’s unlike any film you might have seen within the past several months. While it’s no longer screening here in the Philippines, moviegoers in the United States can catch it during the latter half of this year.  :)

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