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Directed by Danny Boyle.
Written by Alex Garland.
Starring Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh and Chris Evans.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  7/30/07


My friend Terry said it best when speaking about the trailer for the new sci-fi thriller "Sunshine"--"That's either going to be really cool...or absolute dogshit."  He's right--it looks like it could be "2001: A Space Odyssey" good or "Event Horizon" bad in the trailer, no doubt.  I decided to roll the dice this past weekend to see if the same writer/director combo that gave us "28 Days Later" could work their magic again to give us a quality product.

The answer?  Mostly.  "Sunshine" follows a crew of eight astronauts, scientists and physicians as they attempt to re-light the sun, since it has burned out in the future-tense setting of the film.  This is actually the second-such mission in the film's chronology; when we meet everyone, we learn that the failed mission of Icarus I has led to our eight-member crew being sent on the Icarus II to try, try again and save the earth from frozen extinction.  There's a captain (Hiroyuki Sanada), a second-in-command (Troy Garity), an operations guy (Chris Evans, from "Fantastic Four"), a mathematician (Benedict Wong), a pilot (Rose Byrne), a physicist (Cillian Murphy, from "28 Days Later" and "Red Eye"), a physician (Cliff Curtis) and a biologist (Michelle Yeoh, from "Supercop" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon").  The mission is clear--light the sun with a bomb so large it could blow up a planet--but, naturally, the mission doesn't go exactly according to plan.

For about three-quarters of the film, I thought that "Sunshine" was great.  Good looking, great collection of randomly-well-suited B-level actors, beautiful photography, tense thriller, sci-fi that feels slightly ripped off but still entertaining.  At one point, the mission derails and forces the crew to come up with another way to complete their mission (at about the 60% complete point), and something happens at the end of this sequence that makes the film fall into "The Descent" territory due to its change in course.  Some people might think this works as a plot device; I did not, and it led to me being a little angry for a while as the film turns into another kind of film for about 20 minutes.  This device was unnecessary to deliver a solid film, and it gets the film away from the tense nature of the goings-on to give us...well, I'll just say another kind of movie.

Save for this brief interlude, I thought that "Sunshine" was great, a sci-fi film in a summer that has been strangely devoid of sci-fi films that at least represents some of the good things about the genre.  Danny Boyle, our director here as well as "Trainspotting", "Millions" and "28 Days Later", has great talent, and it's good to see that talent on display once again.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09