DVR Full Fail Friday: Sunshine (2007) review

Danny Boyle’s sci-fi thriller Sunshine kept me hooked until the last act.

Still hovering dangerously at 10%, I finally managed to watch a Danny Boyle film on a day off work; as you do when you don’t really care for the rest of his work. Except A Life Less Ordinary of course; that was ace. I’m not kidding. I liked it a lot.

There really aren’t that many actors or directors whose work I will automatically watch just because they’re involved. John Cusack is a rare one off the top of my head, while I’ve also seen most of Kevin Smith’s films on purpose. However, I’m just as likely, if not more so, to avoid things based on who’s involved. Danny Boyle is one of those people.

It’s really just a question of dodging hype. No, I don’t care that he did the one with the Scottish junkies, or the one with the Indian kid who wins the quiz show. I’m not interested in seeing either of them and am conversely tempted not to just because I’m awkward like that. But Sunshine is really a different beast just because it got my interest from being a spooky-looking sci-fi epic.

Sunshine

 

And it is bloody good. Well, to begin with anyway. The crew aboard Icarus 2 are on a mission to the earth’s Sun to fire ‘the payload’ at it – a collection of the planet’s rarest materials which can hopefully re-stoke the dying flames which, if unsuccessful, will go out altogether and eradicate life in the whole solar system.

On the way there, a critical error of maths committed by crew member Trey (Benedict Wong – not only one of the ‘company men’ from Moon but also Prime from the Countdown episode of ‘The IT Crowd’) results in a much-needed detour to what turns out to be the previously-doomed Icarus 1 – and from there things only get worse.

I was far happier with this film when it was a bit of a spooky and ethereal mystery incorporating religious aspects and the whole ‘life beyond Earth’ thing – so imagine my disappointment when it inexplicably descends into a crappy slasher-type film during act three when it turns out there’s something aboard Icarus 2 with a sinister motive.

A most disappointing effort indeed from that point on, but up until then I thought the rest of the film was brilliant; from its cast – Chris Evans seems to be on a mission to prove me wrong since I ragged on him in Fantastic Four, which was probably a team effort fail rather than just him – to the visual effects and soundtrack, the latter of which was beautifully done by Underworld and John Murphy.

It’s a shame the story tailed off so badly with the extra crew member on board because I think Boyle was doing a cracking job until then of showing viewers the despairing and unforgiving bleakness of space, and even that saving mankind comes at a price. I’d give it another watch though just to enjoy the strong cast effort and gorgeous effects.

And this tune:

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