Sunshine is the kind of movie you see in Austin, or the San Francisco Bay Area, or maybe Vancouver. It’s got the art film look, but with the science fiction sensibilities to ground the plot from wandering as randomly as one expects from art films. Or, if you prefer, it’s a science fiction movie but without being constantly dank, dripping, and gloomy or impossibly pristine and modern, due to its latent art film sensibilities. In any case, it just feels more right to watch it in one of those places that is obsessed with both how movies look and whether they make a good story instead of just one (L.A.) or the other (Pittsburgh or New Jersey). Now that I’ve gotten my cinematic biases on the record, there’s also this movie to talk about.
In the future: the sun is getting dim, and humanity is unlikely to survive the worsening problem. Six years ago (let’s say), the Icarus was launched with a devastatingly vast nuclear payload and a mission to launch that payload into the sun in order to restart it. (This may or may not be based in science, and failures of adequate explanation may or may not be mine; but I don’t *remember* the movie going into details. They were not necessary to my enjoyment, in any case.) Except, the sun stayed relatively dark and nobody ever heard anything from them ever again. Now, it is the future-present, and the Icarus II is en route with a second vast nuclear payload that comprises the end of the earth’s capacity for creating sun-restarting bombs. Eight astronauts have the future of the species in their hands, and they are just entering the 16 months of interference-enforced radio silence as the tale opens.
I could ask you plot-leading questions that would reveal a little more of the story, but why bother? Either you’re into science-fictiony isolation stories or you’re not, and spoilers will not help to answer that question. The high points were how pretty it was and how tense it was. The low points were that the climactic scenes were just a touch clichÃ©d (or possibly overdramatic instead; but not both) and also dove a little too far into metaphor for my personal taste. But nothing like how things went in Solaris. If anything, Sunshine redeemed the isolated spaceship drama for me, so don’t worry on that count. (And if you liked Solaris-the-film… really? Really?)