This afternoon I decided to head down to massively awesome and beautiful Newport on the Levee for an afternoon lunch and movie date. After a pretty good lunch at Moe’s Southwest Grill, I headed up to the AMC Theater for my 2:40 matinee of Danny Boyle’s new sci-fi thriller, Sunshine.

I’m a big fan of science fiction, especially when it deals with outer space. And, I think that creative apocalyptic story lines, when done correctly, are impossibly cool and engrossing. To be totally honest, I wasn’t expecting Sunshine to be anything to write home about. I saw the preview and it was Cillian Murphy that threw my senses in a frenzy, whereas the concept and story made me nervous. But with all the excellent reviews I had been reading, I figured it might be worth the time and money to check it out. Let me tell you that Sunshine was worth my dollars and hours and ended up being an outstanding, well-paced and beautiful sci-fi thriller that didn’t let up.

The premise of the film is that some years from now, the Sun is dying out. While the earth is in solar winter, a team of astronauts are headed to try and reignite the Sun aboard Icarus 2, an odd space station looking thing attached to the bomb or “paylaod”, which can only be described as a large satellite dish looking thing. The first Icarus mission took place seven years prior and had failed for some unknown reason.

 

The film opens with a poetic narration by Capa, played by my Blue Eyed Baby Boy, Cillian Murphy, who we learn was the physicist who designed the device that is transporting them 50 plus million miles away to try and save the world. He’s accompanied by Cassie, the Pilot (Rose Byrne, Troy), Searle, the Medical Officer (Cliff Curtis, Live Free or Die Hard), Mace, the Engineer (Chris Evans, Fantastic Four), Harvey, the Communications Officer (Troy Garity, Barbershop), Kaneda, the Captain (Hiroyuki Sanada, The Last Samurai), Trey, the Navigator (Bebedict Wong) and Corazon, the Biologist (Michelle Yeoh, Tomorrow Never Dies, Memoirs of a Geisha).

 

The ship is absolutely incredible. There’s a room where Corazon is growing plants so they can have renuable oxygen, a room called “The Earth Room” where they can go and have an experience like standing in the middle of a forest or watching crashing waves for therapy when they’re homesick, and let’s face it, the technology is all just pretty darn awesome. In fact, there’s this one room that is pretty much like the front window of the ship. The crew can go and sit in there and use some protective screens to get some beautiful glances at the Sun as they approach it. Searle takes a particular liking to it and he describes being so close to it as taking a bath in the light. In fact, many of the images and sounds of the sun in the movie are really the Sun, courtesy of SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, one of my favorite science websites. And for the record, I think that the sounds the sun makes are some of the most terrifying and humbling sound clips to ever exist. Truly breathtaking.).

At the beginning (of course) the mission is going off beautifully, in fact they’re making better time than they thought and are informed that they’re going to be entering the magnetic field of the Sun and will no longer have communication with Earth, so that they need to send their, possibly final, messages home. Cue the lump in my throat as Capa spills out a goodbye that can only be described as perfect. It really carries through in the rest of the film as so much of the dialogue and Capa’s monologues truly are beautifully written.

As the mission continues, Cassie spots Mercury on the computer screen and they all gather in the observation deck to watch it pass in front of the Sun (more totally stunning actual footage.) Later in the day, Harvey discovers that there was an odd transmission that was sent while Mercury was passing, only to later learn that it is a distress signal from Icarus I that is suspended close to the sun, not too far from their projected course. Though it’s unlikely that any of the crew members are still alive, they decide to go and see if they are going to be able to possibly take their undetonated payload to use as a backup in case their’s fails. As this causes the crew to have to change their course, they encounter problems almost immediately.

It truly becomes an intense, heartbreaking and exciting journey and I was almost always on the edge of my seat. As the crew deals with a drastic cut to their oxygen supply, the mental state that comes from their delicate situation and a mysterious extra crew member, you’re truly hoping that the “particularly beautiful day” that Capa was talking about actually comes true.

I have one complaint, but it’s unfortunately a huge spoiler if I leave it here, so we’ll discuss it after you’ve seen it.

Even that complaint aside, I walked away from Sunshine pretty satisfied. The direction and cinematography was beautiful and I was truly impressed all around with the performances from all the actors. If you’re in the mood for some pretty awesome sci-fi thriller action, check out Sunshine, you won’t be sorry.

 Oh! And! The Darjeeling Limited trailer! On the big screen! If you thought those colors were pretty on your computer screen…whew!

(That was SeaBabble’s 200th Post!!!)

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