Sunshine (2007)

Rated R.. Our ratings: V- 1; L- 2; S/N – 2. Running time: 1 hour 49 minutes

No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13

The crew of Icarus II at a meeting.
(c) 2007 Fox Searchlight Films

Danny Boyle is miles away from his delightful comedy-dram Millions in his latest film—indeed, millions of miles, as this has to do with the good ship Icarus II that has journeyed from earth and has arrived at the orbit of Mercury. Back on earth it is darkened and cold because of a malfunction deep within the sun causing it to cool down billions of years ahead of schedule. Icarus II is carrying a super-powered atomic bomb the size of Manhattan that hopefully will re-ignite old Sole and bring back sunshine to the earth. Although the crew is supposed to launch the device and highball it out of the region when they come close enough to the sun, they all know that probably they are on a suicide mission.

The crew of eight is a mixture of nationalities and gender—Asian and Euro-American; male and female—as might be expected with the whole earth joining together to launch the mission. The medical officer Searle likes to sit in the observation room and watch the blazing inferno of the sun’s surface, ordering the ship’s computer to allow as much light through the screen as his eyes can take. Just before the ship enters the “dead zone” where further communication with earth is impossible, the crew members send their last messages to loved ones back on earth.

The pace of the plot quickens when they pick up a weak signal from Icarus I, the ship launched several years earlier, disappearing without a trace. The crew members debate whether or not to turn off course and investigate, one of them pointedly arguing that they should do nothing to jeopardize their main mission. But of course, he is over-ruled, with the expected unpleasant results. Sentiment triumphs over reason.

The film is a fascinating blend of the thought-provoking sci-fi 2001: Space Odyssey and Solaris with Alien. This does not always come off well, although it is exciting to see the crew dealing with such problems as venturing outside the ship to repair the damaged solar screen that shielded the living quarters from the full blast of the sun, and how three of them are to return to their ship with just two operable space suits. There were times when I must confess I did not know what was transpiring on the screen, the dialogue and fuzzy images being confusing, but there was never a boring moment, even though the pace of the first half of the film is much slower than the average film.

For Reflection/Discussion

1) The story is based on one of many scientific predictions of what theologians call “the end times.” What are some of the other scientific theories of the end of the arth and/pr humankind?

2) Compare these to that in the Bible, such as in Mark 13 or the book of Revelation. What is the major difference.

3) How are many science fiction stories such as this one based on a positive view of human capability? What do you think?