Tuesday, January 20, 2009


In Sunshine (2007), set at some point in the distant future, a desperate mission struggles to deliver a payload—a huge bomb—that will reignite the failing sun. The earth has become locked in a perpetual frozen state, and if the mission fails, life will fail with it. Never in the film are we given much of an explanation as to why the sun is failing and why or how the bomb—perpetually and consistently referred to by the crew of the Icarus as the "payload"--will set things right with old Sol.

Early parts of Sunshine seem promising—the isolation of the Icarus and its crew, their inability to communicate with earth, the perilous nature of their mission. But gradually, as systems begin failing on the vessel, the film transitions into one of those Agathie Christie-type plots that basically focuses on the question of who will die next. This is the standard plot of many a horror and science fiction film—Alien, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, et al, and this one is no different.

It also turns out that the Icarus is the second vessel sent to the Sun—the first one disappeared without explanation. Eventually it is discovered in orbit around the sun, and when the oxygen supply on Icarus dwindles to the point where the mission is endangered, a rendezvous with the derelict first vessel becomes necessary. Numerous complications ensue. The underlying premise of the film (and the underlying premise of many science fiction plots that depend on advanced technology) is that however advanced the technology may be, human error is the Achilles heel.

Sunshine is the sort of film where you can predict events before they occur. Some of the crew members are interesting. Some of the special effects are impressive (some are not). In the end, it just doesn't work.

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