When talking to me about movies, there’s going to be two recurring names you hear over and over: Darren Aronofsky and Danny Boyle. Between the two of those directors you’ll find a good percentage of my favorite films ever made.
Sunshine, directed by Danny Boyle, released to limited theaters in 2007 and was only showing in a cinema over an hour away from me. I happily made the trek and left the theater in awe of what I’d seen. For my money, Sunshine is one of the best science fiction films of all time. There. I said it.
The basic story is that the sun is dying and the earth is trapped in a never ending winter. A team of engineers, doctors, pilots, astronauts and physicists take a trip to the sun to throw a massive nuclear bomb at it in hopes of jump-starting it back to full power.
The ship that they fly to the sun is called Icarus 2. The name Icarus, for those of you unfamiliar, comes from a character from Greek mythology that, with the help of his father, Daedalus, constructed wings to fly out of Crete. Daedalus warned Icarus to not fly too close to the ocean or sun as the moisture from the ocean would clog the wings and the heat of the sun would melt them. Icarus ignored his father and flew too close to the sun, melting his wings and falling into the ocean where he drowned. The Greeks always appreciated a good downer story.
Back to the movie, they’re the second team to attempt this mission. The Icarus 1 disappeared without a trace partway through the trip to our nearest star.
I know all this dying sun, 1st mission goes wrong and space travel all sound like standard generic science fiction and I’ll agree that they’re all pretty staple plot points, but the magic of Sunshine is in the point that it’s human error that sends things awry.
The people of Icarus 2 actually end up finding Icarus 1 wholly intact and unharmed. To avoid major spoiler territory I’ll just say that what they decide to do and how it’s done is where the major conflict begins.
What I love deeply about this movie is the human element. The questions it raises about the sacrifice we make for others, the importance of the mission and clinging on to our humanity.
The soundtrack to this film couldn’t be more appropriate or amazing. Danny Boyle gave an almost final cut of this film to Underworld, a seasoned British electronic group, to build a soundtrack around organically. It couldn’t be more fitting.
John Murphy, a returning collaborator with Boyle, returns to lay a few tracks down for the film, but none more beautiful or powerful than Surface of the Sun, a long time favorite of mine ever since I walked out of that theater.
Should you see Sunshine? Yes. Absolutely. Should you see Sunshine even if you don’t care for science fiction? Do bears shit in the woods?
Look, Sunshine is a beautifully constructed and executed film that captures both the beauty and horror not only in nature, but in the hearts and minds of mankind.
Now go to your nearest almost bankrupt movie rental facility. Get Sunshine. Apply some SPF 50. Turn the surround sound up and have your face melted off.
If you don’t care to make time for this film, I believe Tyler Perry’s newest Madea flick just hit Redbox. That may be more your speed.