"Knight Thoughts" -- exclusive web content
Cillian Murphy tries in vain to ward off the approaching sun in Danny Boyle's Sunshine, a thinking man's sci-fi picture
Here Comes the Sun:
7-20-07 "Knight Thoughts" web exclusive
By Richard Knight, Jr.
Director Danny Boyle’s 28 Days has the distinction of being the first classy zombie picture (and isn’t that a contradiction in terms) and
now his latest, Sunshine, while not the first, is a welcome addition to the list of thinking man sci-fi films. Both star Cillian Murphy,
he of the piercing blue eyes, who blinks out at the unforgiving sun and ponders the Big Questions as he and his shipmates hurtle
toward the sun. Until the movie’s last act, when Boyle can’t resist introducing a bogie man and manufactured suspense, Sunshine
offers enough variation on the typical Lost in Space-Mission to Mars scenario and includes the prerequisite special effects to make this
worthy enough to check out as opposed to waiting for the DVD.
Murphy plays Capa, a young genius who has designed the lethal bomb the spaceship is carrying – one strong enough, hopefully, to
restart the sun which is flickering out and bring warmth back to the inhabitants of earth who are slowly freezing to death. The
spaceship looks like a giant parasol and, not surprisingly, its biggest feature is the gigantic, mirrored screens that block out mega
doses of those harmful UV rays. As the craft hurtles closer and closer to its destination, however, the male and female crew begin to
psychologically fall apart (along with their craft). Among those hanging on are Michelle Yeoh, Chris Evans (who I am sad to report
keeps his shirt on throughout this time), Troy Garity, and others. Murphy, who specializes in still water running deep characters,
adds another of these to his resume (his best work remains in Breakfast on Pluto where he played the gay transvestite).
As in 2001, Event Horizon, Alien, and other sci-fi pix, a previous ship and crew went missing after attempting the same mission. Yes,
of course the crew of the SS Sunshine (or whatever its name was) will find the old ship and things will take even weirder, more
uneasy turns after that. Yes, there is once again one of those benign, pleasant female computer voices that all these outer space
vessels in all these sci-fi pictures include (it must be a hidden law for making these movies). And yes, there’s plenty of moralizing
and enough doses of philosophy for all.
Sunshine has the weird distinction of being the summer’s first quiet blockbuster (yet another contradiction and a good one) but even
with that unusual caveat the film has enough action sequences and last minute reversals to keep summer moviegoers happy.