Should I Bother to Watch 'Sunshine'

I avoided this film when it was out in the cinema, as I couldn’t get past the whole “refuel the Sun” thing (throwing Jupiter into the Sun wouldn’t affect it’s lifetime significatly, although it would make a good show). I’ve since heard some good things about it. How did people find it, was this just a plot device or did it descend into techno-babble?

No spoilers please.

I liked it quite a bit (though it’s got its share of problems), but unfortunately, the biggest impact it has is on a visual level, so watching it at home is going to have that element diminished dramatically. The “restart the sun” thing is essentially a McGuffin–something to position this motley crew into a series of hazardous and unnerving situations. On the whole, it’s quite well executed and I liked the cast a lot; there’s just this one point that will stretch (or snap) your credulity, and I think everyone’s response to the film is directly proportional to the amount that they forgive (or overlook) it and drink in the film on the scale it was meant to be seen (which, again, is going to make the most moving and wonderous moments seem small at home).

It’s certainly the best SF film I’ve seen this year, FWIW.

It’s really good for the first hour or so, visually stunning and very reminiscent of 2001 with a touch of the original Alien thrown in. The wheels kind of spin off in the last act which devolves into a kind of silly monster movie thing, and i’m not sure how realistic some of the science is but it looks really good and it has a quietly compelling mood to it. If you like Arthur C. Clarke, you’d probably like it.

The nature of the sun’s problem is unclear, and with enough hand-waving and fanwanking you can almost imagine that some problem could be solved with some sort of super nuke. The bad science didin’t really bother me. The actual mission specs aren’t important to the movie. It’s pretty good, IMO, though very flawed. The first half is beautiful and moody.

Regarding the scientific plausibility of the premise, this is from Roger Ebert’s review of the film:

So it looks like there’s at least some kind of theoretical basis for the premise that goes beyond just nuking the sun to make it hotter.

They’re not “refueling” the Sun but restarting it somehow. There’s no real detail in this–it’s basically handwaving to give impetus for the plot–but they also avoid a lot of nonsensical technobabble.

Regarding the film, it is one of the most visually stunning science fiction films since 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it sets a very appropriate, somber mood. It’s best to see this in the cinema; you’ll lose much of this on the small screen. The plot developments themselves are kind of dumb; basically, the ship is poorly designed for its mission, it doesn’t carry the necessary auxillary craft, lacks redundency in mission critical systems (airlocks, gardens, communications systems, protective shielding, flight computer, et cetera), and the failure of the previous mission (which is a critical plot development) is a poorly explained hash, at best. There are also a couple of significant orbital mechanics problems with the story, but that’s only of interest to nerds who sit around plotting capture and swing-by trajectories as a hobby.

Anyway, it’s not that the film is bad, necessarily–it doesn’t descend into a logical singularity that Event Horizon collapsed into–it’s just a grand opportunity to do a Kubrick-like film that is totally wasted by an increasingly random plot. It also has every appearance of last minute, studio-executive-tampering editing; whole plotlines seem to kind of collapse or be cut off on the last couple of reels as the film barrels toward a typical blockbuster ending. I’ve wasted worse two hours of my life on more dreckful wastes of celluloid. It’s not a shining endorsement, I know, but it could be worse, especially this summer.

Oh, and both Michelle Yeoh and Rose Byrne are radiant. I’d watch either of them drink tea for two hours. Well, maybe and hour and a half.


Thanks for the replies, I’ll give it a try.

Sounds a lot more plausable than ‘humans for batteries’ anyway (which, while it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the first Matrix film, certainly made me cringe).