#1 – Top Movies of 2007
“Kaneda, what do you see?”
Rated R. Out on DVD. Directed by Danny Boyle. Written by Alex Garland. Starring Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Cliff Curtis and Michelle Yeoh.
When I love a film, I know it right away — there’s a feeling I get that’s hard to describe (and maybe you get it too) when the credits are rolling, a kind of stunning feeling of awe and amazement that is what really hits at the heart of what movies can do. Like other forms of art, a great movie can make you look everything a little differently after you’ve seen it — for lack of a better term, they can rock your world.
Sunshine rocked my world.
Now, I can concede that some of, if not a large part of that is because of the circumstances behind me seeing it — this summer, ten of my friends spent a weekend in Tampa Bay, Florida, and my flight out was late at night on Monday (most of the group had left Sunday night, a few left on Monday morning), leaving me with a day to kill in a city I didn’t know and nowhere to spend it — so I went to the mall.
I had wanted to see Sunshine when I found out it reunited the director, writer and star of 28 Days Later, one of my favorite horror movies — Danny Boyle, Alex Garland and Cillian Murphy. Luckily, it was playing at a mall theater relatively close by — now, Sunshine did not do very well at the box office, and this was about 3 weeks after it was released, so it was no surprise that I was literally the only one at the early weekday showing. I almost never go to movies by myself, but if ever there was a perfect time for it, it was for this one.
Sunshine is an extremely visceral movie — the sights and sounds are absolutely key. The score is incredible and the visual effects are seamless and look like the result of a $200 million budget. So sitting alone in a theater, on very little sleep with a hangover, watching it on a huge screen and letting the visuals just envelop me, may have enhanced my view of this movie a little. I would definitely not recommend seeing it on a small tv, and to watch it with the sound way up.
That’s not to say it’s not a good film anyway — it’s got everything you’d want in a sci-fi future movie, a reasonable plot and interesting premise, strong acting, and some goosebump-worthy scenes. Set in 2057, the film follows a crew of eight astronauts on a mission to the sun, which is dying, leaving Earth in a solar winter. The first mission was lost and this crew now represents the final shot at saving our planet. Murphy plays physicist Robert Capa, the man in charge of the nuclear payload “the size of Manhattan” that they hope will re-ignite the dying star. Chris Evans, known primarily as the Human Torch in the craptastic Fantastic Four series and as the star of Not Another Teen Movie, gives a shockingly effective performance as the technician for the ship’s computer, Icarus. Cliff Curtis is also quite effective as the psych officer who may need some psychiatric treatment of his own.
Boyle excels in elevating Sunshine above the standard in sci-fi, much like he did with 28 Days Later and zombie flicks — the storytelling in Sunshine is precise and effective. The core of the story revolves around the difficult decisions the crew has to make in order to fulfill their mission, and generally the characters behave the way you would expect. A lot of people did not like the developments towards the climax, but there is a single moment which was absolutely chilling which made it worth it and totally work for me.
For me, Sunshine was my favorite film of 2007 — maybe it wasn’t the BEST one, but I think it’s a debate the gets at the heart of film as a form of art. Is it about the plot and the character development, or is it about the sound and production design and the cinematography? Ultimately, of course, it’s about the combination and to everyone the criteria is weighted differently. Sunshine illustrates to me, what differentiates a movie from a book — the story would not make a great novel or even a good one, but when you add in all the visuals and sound, you end up with a great movie — my best of 2007.
I’ve included below the trailer which is a pretty good representation of the movie without giving anything away. It also gives me goosebumps almost every time I watch it.