Almost stellar

Bryhanna Greenough sneaks a peek at Danny Boyle’s upcoming film Sunshine.

The sun is dying, and earth is settling into a new ice age—a solar winter. Spaceship Icarus II is on a last-ditch mission to save the world.

On a trajectory headed straight for the sun, the ship is set to pitch a bomb the size of Manhattan into the fading star to reignite it.

This is the latest movie by director Danny Boyle, also known for Shallow Grave, Trainspotting and, more recently, the post-apocalyptic zombie slasher flick 28 Days Later. Sunshine is Boyle’s attempt to do for the science fiction film what 28 Days Later did for horror.

Boyle has, I think, has succeeded in making what will be the best science fiction film of the summer. But it’s not without its problems.

Sunshine is like a big messy sandwich made from good ingredients: with its extreme situations, complicated ethics, interesting group dynamics, and impressive visual effects, it’ll satisfy your hunger for good science fiction, but by the end you’ll know the experience of eating it was less enjoyable than it could have been.

Boyle does a good job of showing the raw power of the sun, and, more profoundly, the freezing cold of its absence. (There’s really nothing quite like a scene where a person is left drifting off into infinite space.)

The interior design of the spaceship, and visual effects are stellar, and the sound effects are appropriately disorienting.

Sometimes Sunshine’s beautiful visual sequences don’t make a lot of sense, and the storyline skirts in and out of grasp. Things fry, sizzle and explode, and you know this spells bad news, but at times it’s hard to piece it all together. It’s great Boyle has enough faith in his viewers to leave some gaps for the viewer’s imagination to jump over, but at times it’s frustrating and comes across as maybe a little too loose and easy. But it’s often kind of fun too.

Everything goes quite well for the movie up until about three quarters of the way in when Boyle introduces an element that seems to have stumbled straight from 28 Days Later.

As if the sun dying and technical problems on the ship weren’t enough, he has to introduce a spooky horror element. It’s his biggest mistake. Doing this, he detracts from the more interesting matters at hand: life and death ethics in what is essentially a suicide mission. Sunshine features a multi ethnic ensemble based cast runs no true lead characters, which really works in its favour.

Sunshine has me divided. It has a lot going for it, but at the same time there are some fatal flaws, which, like Icarus, get too close to the sun and fall to the sea.

Sunshine is expected to hit local theatres on July 27.