For some reason this movie was not that well received upon its release and I am not 100% sure why but I can hazard a guess, like many movies that will go on to achieve cult status, it is difficult to categorise.
Achieve Cult Status !! Did I really say that, is this movie that good ? Well no it isn't on first viewing. It doesn't really work as a big budget Sci Fi blockbuster or a thriller (even though it does very well in both areas), where this movies scores is in the depth of the storyline and it's characters which is a rarity in Hollywood these days.
Danny Boyle is a brilliant director who refuses to sacrifice quality for the sake of saleability. He cares about the plot of this movie and the lives of the players and it is this level of integrity that pulls Sunshine out of the mainstream and towards cult status.
The story of our dying sun, 50 years from now, and the crews struggle to complete the mission to save it by dropping a massive bomb into a sunspot is hardly groundbreaking stuff, but when things start to go wrong and the crew start dying one by one (again hardly new material) we are able to see why the characters care so much about their mission and why they are literally willing to give up their lives to complete it.
The underlying message that runs through this film is one of sacrifice. The whole crew realise that they are expendable and the only thing that matters is dropping the bomb to save humanity. However some crew members are more expendable than others and this causes tension amongst our 8 heroes. Cillian Murphy is the physicist who is the least expendable crew member but the one who appears the most willing to deviate from the master plan and put everything in jeopardy. Chris Evans (flame from the Fantastic Four) is probably the most expendable but the character who is constantly reminding us that nothing else matters but the delivery of the bomb, and he is even prepared to commit murder to complete the mission.
There are echoes of 2001 A Space Odyssey and Alien in this movie, but without a hint of plagiarism and to truly appreciate the movie I would suggest a couple of viewings. This is a movie that takes itself seriously, and we all know that failure can swiftly follow if a director tries to claim moral high ground with the viewers, fortunately Boyle does not attempt to moralise his characters intentions even when one of them commits suicide over a mistake that costs another his life. Upon discovering this suicide Chris Evans character says "He took responsibility" and moves on without lamenting on the whys and wherefores.
When you think about the subject matter of this movie too much you realise the absurdity of it. The mere thought that Man could affect the course of a celestial body nearly a million miles across with a manmade bomb a little over a mile across is mere folly, but we are so wrapped up in the lives of the crew and their individual weaknesses as men and woman, that we barely notice the futility of their purpose for being where they are.
Sunshine is a superior Hi Def transfer and one if the best I have seen. The source material is clean as a whistle with deep blacks (doubly important with a space movie) and clear, solid and vibrant colours. The depiction of the Sun is wonderful and this is where Hi Def scores with excellent detail and no bleeding of the white hot colour of our star into the surrounding blackness of space.
The audio is also excellent with the DTS Audio Master soundtrack providing a wonderfully immersive experience without over doing the bass.
Sunshine may well attain cult status one day and sit along side such classics as Blade runner and Silent Running. A wonderful movie and must own title,