Tuesday, January 08, 2008
The serious space movie is one of the most limited genres around, with virtually the entire ground having been covered by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001:A Space Odyssey”. The rest being taken up by Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Ridley Scott’s Alien. You get pretty much what you expect each time out:
1. The loneliness of space travel.
2. A pleasant but suddenly disobedient talking computer
3. A technical malfunction that threatens the lives of the spacemen followed by a tense spacewalk to repair the damaged ship
4. The tragic death of one of the protagonists who sacrifices his or herself for the greater good of their colleagues and/or humanity itself.
5. Cabin fever tension between the shipmates courtesy of Jean-Paul Sartre
6. A touch of the spiritual in probing that which “man-was-not-meant-to-know”
Sunshine fulfills all 6 of these expectations but within a more intensified context. Alex Garland’s screenplay sets the story 50 years from now as, yet again, mankind faces extinction; not from a meteoric Armageddon, or the inconvenient truth about the environment, but from the death of the sun itself. A second ice age threatens to end life as we know it and so mankind looks to its last hope for survival, a spacecraft christened the “Icarus II”, which carries a nuclear device the size of Manhattan intended to be fired into the center of the dying star to relight the burner.
Since the “Icarus I” clearly failed in its maiden attempt, only a single nuclear device remains. If the crew of the “Icarus II” fails as well, there will be no more chances. Understandably, the weight of this responsibility hangs heavily on the multi-racial multi-national crew. These seven men and women know that they are nothing but expendable. It causes them to question every decision in a philosophical light. Anything or anyone who stands in the way of the success of their mission must be avoided or stopped. But must Mankind prevail? If there is a greater plan, what exactly is man’s place within it?
To read the rest of my review, click HERE