Sunshine (2007 103min.) [Film4 12.25am tuesday &+1]
Science-fiction thriller starring Chris Evans, Cillian Murphy and Rose Byrne. As the Sun begins to die, spelling disaster for life on Earth, a group of astronauts is sent on a hazardous journey to re-ignite the star with a nuclear device.
Written by Alex Garland, directed by Danny Boyle.
Garland and Boyle, having done British social commentary and zombies (as well as the less than wonderful The Beach (2000) ), turn their attention to sc-fi.
Whenever science fiction films are mentioned people tend to roll their eyes upwards and mutter darkly about "spods, yet there is a lot more to the genre than the "Star Wars" franchise and the numerous copycat films that followed in it's all consuming box office wake.
There's a tradition of well made, thoughtful sci-fi films which include (but not limited to) John Carpenter's Dark Star (1974), Doug Trumbulls' Silent Running (1972) and the less successful but worthy Event Horizon (1997) and of course Kubrick's 2001:A Space Odyssey(1968).
Boyle's obviously seen all of these and a lot more beside. The film is packed with references to the tradition, some obvious some more subtle.
The visual style of the film is remarkable : to describe it as "retina scorching" is not over stating the case. There's a lot of CGI work involved; but it enhances rather than detracts or distracts, as is too often the case in sci-fi films.
Although it's essentially an ensemble piece (like Alien) it's Cillian Murphy who puts in the star turn, a believable and honest performance from an actor who, when he's on his game, has a lot to offer.
There's excellent support work from the likes of Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh and Mark Strong as well.
Underworld's Karl Hyde provides a score that underpins, illuminates and works beautifully with the visuals.
Sunshine's message and meaning may not be obvious at first, but it will seep into your consciousness over the course of a few days after viewing. It also bears repeated watching, usually the sign of a rather special film.
Thoroughly recommended, even to the non-spod!