Heroes of the Zeroes: Sunshine (2007)
Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.
“Sunshine” played like “Armageddon” with dual master’s degrees in psychology and popular culture — mashing up “Lost,” “Alien,” “The Core,” “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Solaris” with mankind-saving characters who don’t enjoy heroism, but suffer from dangerously inflated egos and the mental anguish of easy expendability.
Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans and Rose Byrne lead a team of astronauts and scientists who (mostly) act like astronauts and scientists — a second string of celestial suicide bombers trying to restart a dying sun after their predecessors went missing. (Cruel irony to name this mission “Icarus,” isn’t it?)
God complexes boil over into bad decisions and treacherous deceptions, while beautiful coronal effects crackle across viewers’ corneas. Watching 2007’s “Sunshine” is like sitting inside a plasma ball over which director Danny Boyle is furiously running his fingers.
For all the wonderment of a sun-viewing deck and a mysterious vessel whose dust is likely evaporated skin, “Sunshine” is also low-key and practical. It’s refreshing to see parts with serial numbers and addressed limitations of fighting aboard a ship low on oxygen.
“Sunshine’s” mostly cerebral adventure into unquantifiable science and human nature — the danger of applying probability to impossibility — makes its huh-what conclusion more forgivable. (Destinations have rarely been Boyle’s strong suit anyway, enamored as he is by journeys.)
Loopy as it gets, once the Icarus II sets a course for the heart of the sun, “Sunshine” becomes a head-trip and a half — turning the ship topsy-turvy with danger and dementia en route to the finish line.