Sunshine (2007)


“We’re only stardust”

The Scoop: 2007 R, Directed by Danny Boyle and Starring Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, and Michelle Yeoh

Tagline: If the sun dies, so do we.

Summary Capsule: Not quite the Cosmic Buddy Road Movie.


Jordan’s rating: Nicely tanned.

Jordan’s review: Our sun is dying. These four words were able to conjure delicious, hair bristling dread within moments of dimming the lights and applying buttocks to cushion.

Of course, we are all very much aware of the sun — that simmering orb which all our earthly life literally revolves around — and normally have a pretty good idea of the scientific principles that support its existence. Nevertheless, when it comes down to it, we (or at least, I) would prefer to think of it getting down to more cuddly tasks like winking at deer and sprinkling raisins into our bran… I always thought two scoops was a tad unnecessary.

So, someone has been fiddling with the dimmer switch and our fiery solar friend is starting to fade, so as to pose a serious threat to future human life on this planet. The solution is the obvious one… to re-ignite it by posting a massive stellar bomb into its core, delivered by a team of courageous specialists, traveling on an elaborate heat shield protected craft. Bearing in mind the generally hazardous nature of solar bomb insertion, would it be best to automate the process? Why, no sir!

We swiftly gather that a team of our very best has been assembled to deliver this galactic… ahem, suppository. Actually, this would be the second team sent out, since Earth lost contact with the first one (foreshadowing alert) years previously. So overall, these are technically our second best, unless you follow the ill-subscribed theory of saving the best for last. The team travel on board the ominously named Icarus 2.

The first part of the film fills us in on the nature of the journey as well as how the craft operates and how these humans exist on a day to day basis. The fore part of the vessel is actually one gigantic shield, made up of innumerable panels that protect everything else from the rays of the sun. These early scenes are the kind that always fascinate me as we find out the smaller aspects of the lives of extraordinary characters. Video messages are taken as the signal from Earth will soon be lost as the ship transits into the ‘dead zone’ and when a fight breaks out over complications arising from this, we are treated to witness a futuristic take on conflict resolution, as the recipients are invited to cool off watching soothing holographic scenes, such as waves crashing over a remote sea wall.

Of course, all seems to be fine with minor inconveniences, but what happens when the proverbial messy stuff strikes the fan?

Naturally, we will need a bit of time outside, but this is where the movie really hits its stride. Whenever the camera pans beyond the cosy embrace of the Icarus’ shield, we are physically struck by the awesome, sonic violence of the suns energy. Listen to this movie, even with the volume turned down and you will be able to see your pulse through your wrist!

On top of this, these aural treats are backed up by a truly stirring soundtrack which leaves you in space, nurturing your heart in a hamster cage.

This movie also introduces its own ode to the humble art of sunbathing. Each member of the crew is able to take their place on a special sun viewing deck and observe the beast in all its glory, controlling the experience by selecting the percentage of the solar power they wish to experience. One crew member becomes a little over friendly with the viewing deck, with very interesting results and the whole show plays on the transfixing affect the rays have on everyone.

The cast is, as with many Danny Boyle efforts, a very reliable mix of known and fresh faces, with Cillian Murphy as the resident physicist, Robert Capa, who strikes a very good chord as a calm, reassuring presence amid the chaos.

At one point, a beautiful moment is made of the pangs of feeling between two crew members with separate takes on the danger they find themselves in. The acting is subtle and you are given a window into feelings between two characters that might, in different circumstances, have developed into strong friendship or love. Naturally, given the circumstances, the plot had other places to take us than to bed.

Things do, unfortunately, get a little shaky as we approach the third act of the film. We have so far been buoyed by selfless acts of heroism, shaken by the most effective sound effects possibly ever twinned to celluloid and been willfully seduced by a brilliant portrayal of Searle (Cliff Curtis), the Ships slowly unraveling and comically absorbing psychological officer. Time is also found for a golden space suit that seems to have been modeled on Kenny from South Park, which is nice.

Then from out of no-where, we take a turn for the normal. A silent ship is discovered. This would be the first Icarus craft, previously sent from Earth. Should they help it?

The above paragraph is the shortest in this review, but I believe it is incredibly telling and acts almost as a spoiler in itself to anyone who has seen what happens when people board seemingly deserted ships in space.

I am slightly disappointed that we couldn’t have continued with the gentle progress of this immensely watchable flick. It might just be a testament to the characters and to the fascinating world that has carefully been created, that I continue to watch this movie to the end each time.

If the closing parts seem a bit ill-considered, this brings to mind the same crux evident in many great books — that it often seems the author cannot truly face the end. Everyone wants to continue when we are sucked into another captivating world. Sadly and inevitably we must move on. After all…the Sun is dying.

“Look, Someone with a hairy back is using my soap and we’re not leaving until they own up!”


  • This movie marks another collaboration between Danny Boyle and Alex Garland, once again as Director and Writer. Their previous effort was to bring ‘The Beach’ to our screens.
  • Renowned physicist, Professor Brian Cox was an adviser for this film and though there are inaccuracies, the plot is often theoretically sound. Brian Cox also provides a very interesting commentary for the DVD.
  • Look out for the most serious case of sunburn you are ever likely to see.
  • The general premise of the movie – that the Sun is fading away – is actually endorsed with a scientific back-story of how this could (not likely) happen, which is discussed on the DVD commentary. This is something to do with a ‘Q-Ball’, which is a super heavy object that could theoretically become lodged within a star and devour it from the inside.

Groovy Quotes:

Capa: By the time you get this message, I’ll be in the dead zone. It came a little sooner than we thought, but this means you won’t be able to send a message back. So, I just wanted to let you know that I don’t need the message because I know everything you wanna say. Just remember it takes eight minutes for light to travel from sun to Earth, which means you’ll know we succeeded about eight minutes after we deliver the payload. All you have to is look out for a little extra brightness in the sky. So if you wake up one morning and it’s a particularly beautiful day, you’ll know we made it.

Cassie: Are you scared?
Capa: When a Stellar Bomb is triggered, very little will happen at first -and then a spark, will pop into existance, and it will hang for an instant, hovering in space and then, it will split into two, and those will split again, and again, and again… detonation beyond all imaging – the big bang on a small scale. – a new star born out of a dying one… I think it will be beautiful… No, i’m not scared.
Cassie: …I am.

Searle: Kaneda! What do you see? Kaneda! What do you see? Kaneda!

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Event Horizon


  1. Obviously everybody hates the final-act. I didn’t “hate it” per se, but it is a lame excuse just for Boyle to start hacking away his characters, and level-up the amount of tension and emotion we can invest into the material. Good review Jordan.

    • Many thanks! I definitely agree with you, there – also, it felt quite odd to have the film taking such a sudden turn for the formulaic, with Boyle reaching into that dusty old cupboard for the ‘industry standard’ plot devices.

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