Sunshine follows the story of the Icarus II and her crew. The sun is dying a lot sooner than expected and mankind, being the stubborn "we will live" species that we are, is not ready to die out. They decide to send an enormous nuclear device to restart the sun. When the first ship, the Icarus I, mysteriously disappears, a second mission is set in motion with an even larger bomb--the size of Manhattan. Sixteen months into the journey the crew receives a disturbing signal: a distress beacon from the Icarus I. Capa, the crew's physicist and expert on the bomb they are carrying, is given a decision: either ignore the Icarus I and hope the one bomb they have will work, or deviate from their course and possibly get a second bomb...two second chances. Like any story such as this, things do go horribly wrong, and I'll leave it at that.
Sunshine is a brilliant film that deserves a lot more attention than it has been given. Considering the abundance of flashy, space-opera science fiction being thrown out there, this is a huge breath of relief. It's a disaster movie, but with gripping scenery. The CGI is fantastic here. It isn't overdone and it looks, gasp, real. This is something that other directors should be looking at when they envision using CGI. If you can't make it look real, don't bother. There's no point and it really hurts the feel of a movie when things look fake. The characters, while somewhat sparse in characterization at points, are powerful and memorable. The cast is well picked for the characters they are supposed to be and the acting is on par. It's really hard to not love this film. Perhaps the only part that I felt hurt the movie was after a fire erupts in the Icarus II and destroys their oxygen supply. Later on, when things are falling apart, Corazon (played by Michelle Yeoh) finds a single little plant growing out of the ashes, which is such a beautiful scene, but considering the ending seems somewhat pointless. I love the scene, but it's so depressing to think about Corazon's almost tearful happiness at seeing life springing from the ashes (which might be a commentary on the story as a whole), only for that little bit of life to end up being no more anyway. I loved the scene, but sort of wished it had ended a little different. Perhaps that is what the writers intended to do, though. Regardless, this is a powerful film that stresses what it is to be human and even touches on some really disturbing issues of human psychology and God.
One little bit of technology that I really loved was this sort of miniature holo-deck. Unlike in Star Trek it's non-interactive. You can't go walking around as Sherlock Holmes and shoot people, but for these astronauts who are stuck on this ship--which is huge, but still a giant tin-can--it acts almost like a refreshing moment to remember what it is they're saving. It's truly a beautiful little machine.
Contrary to what the critics have said about this film, the end half does not ruin the amazing, beautifully envisioned beginning. In fact, the ending seems to amplify the desperation of the crew to succeed in their mission, even when there's a killer on the loose and everything is falling apart. Remember, this isn't just a survival of the individual, this is the survival of a whole species, and that desperation is clear by the end. The ending was powerful, gripping, and terrifying. The movie as a whole is equally as powerful, gripping, and terrifying and if you haven't seen Sunshine yet, do so immediately. This film is truly a gem in the field of science fiction.