Follow Us on Twitter

Sunshine - Review


Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

BRITISH director Danny Boyle has created one of the brightest entries into the sci-fi genre in a long time with Sunshine, a jaw-dropping cinematic achievement that positively radiates with intelligence and edge-of-the-seat thrills.

A self-confessed fan of films like Alien, Solaris (the original) and 2001, Boyle has created a memorable experience that manages to pay respectful homage to such classics as well as something very unique in its own right.

Set in the not-too-distant future, the film follows the fortunes of an eight-man crew of scientists as they attempt to re-ignite the solar system’s fading sun using a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan.

They represent Earth’s last hope and travel with the knowledge that a previous mission has failed. But as they begin to near their target, divisions emerge and crew members struggle to keep a grip on their sanity. Then they receive a signal from the previous mission’s spaceship…

The great thing about Sunshine is the way that it thrusts you into the heat of the action from the beginning. Boyle doesn’t feel the need to set the scene or investigate his characters’ back stories.

Rather, they’re mid-mission and almost immediately faced with difficult decisions. It’s a clever device that grips from the outset.

The crew, too, is comprised of strong ensemble actors rather than A-list faces, making the trajectory of their demise more difficult to predict. And they’re all on cracking form.

Chris Evans (of Fantastic Four fame) stands out as the brash engineer who puts the success of the mission above everything and everyone, but there’s equally notable support from Hiroyuki Sanada as the ship’s captain, Cliff Curtis as the psychiatrist, and Cillian Murphy, as the science expert – not forgetting Rose Byrne and Michelle Yeoh as well.

Boyle, for his part, isn’t prone to making sentimental choices. No one is safe and all are prone to selfishness and survival instinct.

Alex Garland’s script also has fun toying with notions of science and faith without ever resorting to too much techno babble, while the film’s obvious parallels with global warming lend it a timely environmental edge.

The film does threaten to lose its way during the latter stages when Boyle veers more deliberately towards Alien territory (we won’t ruin how) but Sunshine still maintains its pull even during its freakiest moments.

And visually it cannot be faulted, making a mockery of its modest production costs and proving that less can sometimes be more. The film looks stunning, mixing moments of beauty and savagery with effortless aplomb.

The end result is a truly special experience that confirms Boyle as one of the British film industry’s shining lights. Audiences should go and be dazzled by its brilliance.

Could it happen? The answer is…

View photos from the film

Danny Boyle interview

Certificate: 15
Running time: 107mins

  1. You have never seen this film or have a vested interest in saying it is good.

    It is the worst film I have ever seen and the cinema was so bored that people left and one woman fell asleep!!

    Keith    Apr 8    #
  2. The sweet: A visual delight full of goodies and superb shots. Kicking hollywoods ass.

    The bitter: Probably one of the worst scripts ever and worst acting. Not to speak of the lack of scientific facts supporting the film.

    The result: This film is a big mistake, had the opportunity to make it a film to remember, god knows whats on the head of producers and script writers. Sorry for the art and visual teams, so much work for such a empty film, they are the only reason why to see this film.

    Ed    Apr 9    #
  3. What are your readers like? Sunshine is quite possibly one of the best sci-fi films of all-time… and it’s British!!! Stop putting Danny Boyle down. This is breathtaking, thought-provoking and gripping stuff – exactly what goes into making science fiction classics. Which films were you watching guys? Mr Foley gets this one very right.

    Josh    Apr 9    #
  4. I thought this was a really great film. I was suprised, actually. The only disappointment for me was a tendency to rely on too many ‘pop video’ effects in some of the sequences toward the end. This device really broke the tension for me. I was a little disappointed with the last quarter as a whole. I thought more could have been done with this ‘twist’, but i left the cinema feeling though i had truly shared this intense and dark journey with the crew of the Icarus II. Best seen with biggest screen and loudest sound. Looks, feels and sounds stunning. Please ignore first two individuals comments above. Theyre clearly brain-dead. pure cinematic experience. dont wait for DVD – see it now!!!

    jason    Apr 10    #
  5. You will fall asleep after 25 mins. Its a terrible effort at a horror/sci-fi, armageddon wannabe. Worst film I have seen in ages and I was so looking forward to it too :(

    chris    Apr 10    #
  6. Unfortunately I must agree with Keith, I have never seen so many people walk out of a movie. Saw it with 7 people and most thought it was the worst film they ever saw.

    Ross    Apr 10    #
  7. Quite possibly one of the best sci-fi films of all-time… not. Interesting premise that ultimately proves too big for the writer and director. You’ll have relegated it to the mediocre pile in a couple of days once you stop to actually think about what you’ve just seen. Third act is just dumb.

    Mark    Apr 10    #
  8. The visuals are good, but the film is totally pants. I was looking forward to it for so long, and as with any rubbish films, they show the best parts in the trailers. This could have been a great film, but it lost its way half way through, especially with that mad burnt geezer sneeking on bored slashing everyone in sight. Its not even worth watching on DVD. Stay away from this pile of trash !!!

    shaun    Apr 10    #
  9. Boyle has done what he has done the last few times and simply combine three or four classic films into one. I would say the most relevant explanation is a cross between event horizon and 2001.
    The audio/visual aspects of the first two thirds of the film blew me away and I would say it is worth seeing just for this. It is beautifully made but it is such a shame that they had to ruin the film with the last half an hour which is rubbish. The thing that concerns me about this film is that I reckon it will be only half as good a film when watched at home. This is definitely cinema only.

    simon    Apr 10    #
  10. Just seen this film and I have to say without a doubt. This is one of the worst films I have ever seen. I am a big fan of this type of genre but the script and the acting really do not make a good film. Yes the effects were great but I have been more impressed watching paint dry!!!! In a word…......Sh*te!

    Paul    Apr 10    #
  11. Did not enjoy it at all – bored after 20 mins fought to stay awake for the twist/best bit…which didn’t arrive.
    Bog standard script – dull and predictable. Cheesey ending and not remotely believable and a waste of an evening

    steve    Apr 10    #
  12. I thought this movie was entirely unrealistic and quite laughable. All the way through all I could do was wonder at the impossibilties of the mission as nothing else was capturing my attention or imagination. Nice visuals, but I swear I’ve seen that survivor in another movie/comic strip

    Emily    Apr 10    #
  13. 1 third amazing (start), 2 thirds awful.

    Matt    Apr 10    #
  14. What poppycock! Sunshine is, to coin a phrase, a genuinely bright entry into the scc-fi genre that ought to be applauded; not criticised. Okay, so it loses its way towards the end but it’s a stunning achievement in all other respects that proves British filmmakers can mix it with Americans on the grandest scale. Boyle deserves maximum praise for putting together something that impresses in spite of its meagre budget. Shame on you folks for not sticking with it or supporting it. But I suspect you’re the same guys who turned out in droves to see Mr Bean and Norbit?

    David    Apr 11    #
  15. people that criticise this movie do not know what a good movie is if it hits them in the face as, with mind blowingly bright special effects and an incredible plot and tension, sunshine quite clearly hits you in the face. the person saying it was crap and walked out can hardly say anything becasue they didnt even watch it! i personally do criticise it a little when it becomes on the verge of becoming an alien possibility movie and it may have not had an ending twist but in some movies it is nice to just be able to watch a movie that has a steady plot. and so what- it may not be possible for it to actually happen- but cant people have open minds any more and just allow yourself to belive, lose yourself in a movie and not care whether the possibilities of it occuring are outrageous or not. the movie stands out in an individual cinema-only viewing way due to the suspense and brightness that the movie shows. it was a fantastic movie end of. no movies are real it isnt actually possible as in saw for a serial killer who sets traps for humans to punish them to be true but people still rate it as a GOOD movie. people should i admit be able to criticise and have their own opinions but not dislike it because of the reality. movies aren’t meant to be understood or actually possible to happen they’re for enjoying and i just hope people can enjoy movies without being so STUPID!

    ella    Apr 11    #
  16. Looking forward to seeing this film but am worried as Danny Boyle is a two act film director, not seen one film of his which manages to sustain it’s thrilling premise and generally brilliant first two acts, fingers crossed eh?

    Micheal    Apr 11    #
  17. omg the visuals and sound are awesome better then matrix when it come 2 fresh ideas, best sci-fi in a very long time, boyle selected 1 of the best cast i ever seen before, first 2 parts a brilliant spot on the last part kinda let me down but on the whole this film is fresh and and very unique which i liked, story, plot and disasters that happen on the way are refreshing and gripping, left the cinema feeling like i been with the crew threw the whole way awesome cant wait 4 the next sequel cause it fully deserves 1 must see but its 1 of them films 2 be fair 1 word MARMITE u either love it or h8 it and i cant get fairer then that haha

    LF2MASTER    Apr 12    #
  18. this is a great film – thoughtful, pensive, cerebral and visually stunning. it won’t appeal to cinema goers who have been weened on MTV-style editing and high octane jinks at the multiplexes (see majority of posts above) and that’s a good thing.

    Darren    Apr 12    #
  19. i really wanted to enjoy this movie but found that it was a mish mash of other, better movies already done to death before…namely:

    Alien; Armageddon (hard to believe but better); 2001: A Space Odyssey; Nightmare On Elm St; Deep Impact…

    I didn’t care about anyone on board that ship; I wasn’t convinced that anyone or anything could get close enough to the sun without being incinerated let alone close enough to land a bomb. i was so bored.

    d howdy    Apr 12    #
  20. Fell asleep until Freddy Kreuger turned up…couldn’t stop laughing then. I thought this was supposed to be sci-fi not comedy …ahahahahah

    Dipak    Apr 12    #
  21. I was really excited when I saw the trailer. I left the cinema enormously disappointed.
    If you go and watch this movie, you’ll really enjoy the visual effects – they are tremendous… but what happened to the plot? The ‘twist’ (in fact the entire plotline) was blatantly obvious from the off.
    The character development was tragically weak – be that a “clever narrative device” or not, it just didn’t work. The start is definitely better than the end; though how much of that may be simply because the start introduces us to the graphical effects, whereas the end tries to contain some activity, i do not know.

    I’m left seething with rage at how badly an excellent idea was squandered with inadequate dialogue, characters and acting. I’d like to see my money back too. I watched a few people leave during the showing. I probably should have joined them. The carpets in the cinema would have had better storyline progression.

    Sunshine takes a BRILLIANT setup idea, but implements it using tired rehashing of ideas from other movies. Call it modernism if you really want to, but it’s supposed to be done well and have a positive end result. Call the movie cerebral if you want the desperate allusions to solar mysticism to count for something, but it just isn’t done well enough to be actually enjoyable.

    Go see this movie.
    This is probably the best example of the fusion of incredible special effects with horrific content you’ll find.

    Oh, and the stop/spliced frame trickery is just weak. No-one needs to do that any more.


    And why is a little consistency in a movie too much to ask for?

    zdb    Apr 13    #
  22. Sunshine is not nearly as bad as some of the reviewers here say it is, but it’s not a sci-fi masterpiece either. I can forgive the dodgy science because the central premise of the film – that the sun, the glorious life-giver, has become our enemy – is such a powerful one, but the third act of the film is disappointing.
    This is because the film can’t make up its mind about whether it’s an Alien-style thriller or a 2001-style metaphysical quest. I did enjoy the oppressive sense of space claustrophobia and the impressive special effects … you really feel the heat of the sun and the awe it engenders.

    Philippa    Apr 13    #
  23. Absolutely one of the worst films I’ve seen in years. This thing deserves a big steaming Razzie it’s so bad. You people must be paid to write something positive to say about this embarrassing mess.

    Jeff    Apr 13    #
  24. I am in utter dis-belief that most of the people that said they watched this movie are saying it is so bad??!!! Are you sure you were actually there? This is one of the greatest sci-fi of our generation, possibly ever. The amazing effects, the breath taking space walk, the feeling of dread and hopelessness for the crew throughout, wow, what a movie. I’m off to see it again at the movies next week while I still can. A MUST see movies experience. Could not recommend this highly enough.
    Only disappointment was the final scene, which I won’t ruin for people that haven’t seen it yet, but could have ended better than that, a little cheesy.

    Pete    Apr 16    #
  25. Having seen it twice as during my first viewing my mate kept wittering in my ear, I have to agree that this is a bloody good film, but as others have said, it does lose it’s way a little towards the end.

    The point is folks, this is not American stating-the-bleeding-obvious Sci-fi, its not about Captain America saving the universe with a bunch of dudes who would be no more suitable to go into space than the Womens’ Institute. It’s more subtle than that-
    This film is about concept, about symbolism and about jolly fine special effects.

    Of course the characters are not intensively developed- they’re not meant to be- they’re all gonna die, their mission is the be all and end all, not the happy hero homecoming!

    Regrettably we Brits have become so used to happy ending American Sci-fi that we seem to have forgotten that formulaic filmmaking IS worth challenging!

    This film is worth seeing, it may not break any box-office records, but it is a good watch and has the makings of a love it or hate it cult classic.

    Xenia    Apr 17    #
  26. I cant believe people are criticising this movie. I find it truly scary that this is considered “bad”. Me and my friends were utterly stunned at the end - it was brilliance in the exteme. Gonna go out on a limb and assume everyone is joking. seriously, what would people prefer? THE CORE? I gurantee most of you thought this was gonna be a paint-by-numebrs Hollywood EXTREME ACTION MOVIE.
    Do your research before you criticise a movie for not being in the genre you want it to be. Thought-provoking, spiritual, terrfiying, beautiful.. apparently not enough?

    Tristan    Apr 18    #
  27. Mmmm did I love it or just like it? That's what I can't decide. I wish more than anything that the stupid subplot wasnt in it and then it would be near perfect. I don't know why Boyle/Garland have to change an amazing film into a horror flick. I DONT LIKE scary movie’s and in no review was I told that this would scare me and it did.
    Really wasn't keen on act 3 at all. Think it had been done before i.e Event Horizon (had i known this I wouldn't have seen it). On the other hand really glad i have seen it; it was amazing in parts and really well acted a lot of the time. Loved the idea of the story. Everything is fab about this film apart from the last 20 mins - then it's just weird. Freddie needs to stay on Elm Street, that's what I say.

    gemma    Apr 18    #
  28. Come on guys, get a grip. Sunshine is by far and away the best sci fi movies of recent years. I know that’s not saying much but it’s intelligent, daring enough to be different, and quiote clearly provokes intelligent discussiuon afterwards – which is more than can be said for most movies nowadays.

    Jimbo    Apr 19    #
  29. A SF movie with no science. A plot that makes no sense. And a bunch of people as endearing as Dick Cheney.

    ed    Apr 20    #
  30. Simply the best sci-fi movie created since 2001. Beautiful and intelligent, thoughtful and stimulating. The science of the movie is fine.

    doc adam    Apr 23    #
  31. NOT AS ADVERTISED ON THE TIN. Like a lot of people i went along to see Sunshine on the strength of the stunning trailer. In it we saw glimpses of the films plot, the Astronauts struggling against the adversity of a ‘fools chance’ mission to re-start the sun, the amazing vista shots, and frantic action. NOWHERE did the trailer hint that Danny Boyle and Alex Garland had simply tippexed out the title on an EVENT HORIZON script and written SUNSHINE over it. I had to check my ticket stub halfway through the film as the similarities were so striking!
    The film starts off wonderfully rich with many possibilities but ends on such a cheap note i doubt i’ll ever be inclined to watch it again. You have to imagine the filmamkers knew this would be the public's reaction, hence the diversionary trailer.

    Gobeck    Apr 23    #
  32. A lot of people have unfairly trashed this movie. Sorry, but the film is about the pyschology of space exploration and not a rom-com.
    Real astronauts are professional and serious individuals, which I believe Danny Boyle has depicted rather well. He could have easily wondered off into Star Trek/Star Wars territory. So if that’s what the detractors want then go and watch those movies on DVD.

    Harry    Apr 23    #
  33. Some of the best films of recent years have paid respect to other movies. Hell, Quentin Tarantino does it all the time. What Danny Boyle does with Sunshine is create something unique and intelligent, which pays respectful homage to sci-fi movies of old. Yes, there’s elements of Event Horizon, 2001 and Alien in there – but it’s deliverate and in no way detracts from this unique vision. People should be applauding Sunshine, not taking any opportuntiy to knock it. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves in the dark old days of Star wars wannabes. And let’s face it wanting to be like star Wars didn’t even work for George Lucas wghen he tried to recreate it now did it?

    Jackie B    Apr 24    #
  34. I’ve enjoyed this debate and been moved to go see the film as a result, not usually being a fan of sci-fi. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. This is a much more interesting film than I ever thought possible, let down only bty the standard horror ending. Why some peopole are calling it the worst film they’ve seen is a little baffling. It#s not the classic that Jack Foley states but it’s a better than average experience that’s certainly gets my recommendation…

    Lorraine    Apr 24    #
  35. Bad acting and script? Bad Science? Boring?

    Seriously. What film did you people go and see? This is by far the most intelligent well made and thought provoking piece of science fiction in years! And bad science? You people DO know that top-of-their-field physicists were involved in the making of this, and everything in this film, with the exception of the shield technology, is ENTIRELY plausible right?
    My god people. Stick to George Lucas if you want to bad mouth a film this good. And the comparisons to Alien and Event Horizon? Yes they were set on a spaceship and bad things happen, but Sunshine plainly has its own place among them.

    Jon    Apr 24    #
  36. I have just seen this film and think it is one of the best films I have seen for ages. I really enjoyed. The soundtrack was brilliant and touching, the effects were amazing and I felt for the characters. I wish more directors put more emotion in their films like D.B did with Sunshine.

    Chris    Apr 25    #
  37. I just saw the film and thought it was one of the BEST films I’ve seen in the cinema for ages. This is coming from someone who goes the the cinema AT LEAST once a week and owns hundreds of DVDs – I love movies and this film was in my mind not the disappointment many seem to think it is.

    There is an overwhelming supply of tension from the word go that lasts throughout the entire film. That’s quite something considering that quite a large proportion of events are rather predicable.

    I have to admit to expecting a more significant twist, but to me that’s minor. Yes, there was some cliche, but cliche is fine if it’s handled well and this Danny Boyle does very well.

    Rob    Apr 26    #
  38. Worst SciFi movie I ever seen

    Luis    May 1    #
  39. Try Solaris to begin with.
    Sunshine’s script is simply weak and full of nonsense.
    Just another B movie.

    Timesquirrel    May 2    #