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:: Sunshine

Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) brings to the screen a meticulously well researched science-fact (as opposed to science fiction) thriller, concerning the imminent death of the earth’s life source: the Sun. It is the year 2057 and Earth’s last hope lies with the crew of the spacecraft Icarus II and its mission to deliver a nuclear device to the centre of the Sun which once detonated, will reignite the vital star.

The Icarus II’s multicultural crew is made up of eight men and women and contains leading specialists from the world of astrophysics, botany, engineering, and biology. The crew set off into space with a clear objective which is to reignite the Sun and save humanity. During the late stages of their travel to the Sun, the crew are alerted to the presence of a previous failed mission when they hear the distress signal of their predecessors, Icarus I. Finding themselves out of radio contact with earth, the crew of the Icarus II do the honourable thing and make an independent decision to go to the assistance of Icarus I which was thought lost seven years earlier. An accident throws their rescue mission and the larger mission at hand into complete chaos as one by one, the crew slowly succumb to the same mysterious fate as their predecessors.

Despite borrowing heavily from previous space films, such as Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tarkovsky’s Solaris, Sunshine is a welcome addition to the space fact/science fiction genre as it places the concepts of science, space travel and the solar system at its narrative core. When we meet the crew of the Icarus II, they are already on their way to the sun so we are spared the emotion and melodrama of tearful farewells to children and loved ones and instead find ourselves immersed in the actions of their daily lives which centre on the means of living in space.

The film’s stunning use of sound contribute to the claustrophobia and suspense created and the visual images of the sun are simply fantastic on the big screen. With a superb cast and the absence of major Hollywood stars, Sunshine is one of those rarely seen films that puts its financial resources into a great script, solid scientific research to back the facts conveyed in the film, and superb if sometimes blinding visual effects.