My thoughts on: Sunshine (2007)

Sunshine is a notable science fiction film for several reasons. For one, it has one of the best scores you will ever hear in the genre (it even gives Interstellar a run for its money). For two, it’s actually built on a fairly realistic premise; like Discovery in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Icarus II is a believable-looking ship with plausible technology onboard. Unfortunately, the third thing that makes it notable is that the entire plot goes to pieces in the last act (more on that in a little bit).

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The plot of Sunshine takes place in 2057 and centers on a plot to restart the sun after it begins to die, slowly freezing the Earth in the process. The plan is to launch a massive nuclear bomb into the Sun with the goal of bringing the star back to life. The Icarus II is the Earth’s last chance, as the Icarus I mysteriously disappeared seven years earlier. Predictably, the second Icarus discovers the first Icarus and things become weird once they link up with the other ship.

The fact that the ships are called Icarus should be a pretty big clue that things are going to end badly for the crew. In Greek mythology, Icarus was the sun of the inventor Daedalus, who could build all kinds of amazing things. In order to escape captivity, Daedalus built two sets of wings using feathers and wax. While flying away, Icarus flew too close to the sun causing the wings to fall apart and Icarus fell to his death.

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Just like in the myth, the Icarus ship gets right up to the sun and in the end, everyone dies. But it’s how the story gets to that point that bothers me. The thing is, up until the last act begins, Sunshine is a fantastic science fiction film with no real problems to speak of (it even includes Chris Evans in a pre-Captain America appearance). But when the film addresses what happened to the crew of the Icarus I…that’s where things go sideways in a hurry. In a matter of minutes, Sunshine goes from a reasonable sci-fi story to a slasher horror film where a mysterious killer picks off the crew one by one (the ones who don’t die by the killer’s hand perish due to a number of reasons, the most gruesome being exposure to the vacuum of space). I could almost forgive this sudden shift in the film were it not for the fact that it comes almost completely out of left field. There’s a small piece of footage early in the film that hints at a problem, but no real indication that the plot will go in this direction. It’s almost like the writers hit upon a great concept but weren’t able to come up with a satisfactory ending so they copped out and went the sci-fi/horror route. And this is why I will always say Sunshine is a good film that could’ve been great.

Despite its less than perfect ending, I still recommend Sunshine to anyone who hasn’t seen it before. Trust me when I say the music will blow you away. The cast also does an admirable job with what they have to work with.

What do you think of Sunshine? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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