If Sunshine is any evidence, Danny Boyle clearly understands the fragile parameters of sci-fi adventure, or at least those of his own talents. Where other recent high-concept space epics boasting impressive behind-the-camera talent struggled to arrive at a philosophical importance to match their miraculous, seamless special effects (Mission to Mars, Solaris, The Fountain), Sunshine doesn’t much bother with the big questions. Instead it sets its sights on more immediate concerns. The story about a crew of astronauts setting out to the Sun with an enormous nuclear weapon to reignite the star and save life on Earth raises an issue or two (moral decisions regarding sacrifice, something about whether humankind deserves to live or not), but mostly director Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland (the 28 Days Later team reunited) just want to dilate your pupils.
In this they succeed admirably, even if Sunshine is at moments implausible (a mission to the Sun — really?) and a tad silly (the villain with a god complex too much resembles Freddy Kreuger). While Boyle may occasionally step on the accelerator without paying heed to spatial orientation or character development, Sunshine has, simply put, stunning moments of sheer exhilaration fit for a big-budget spectacle scaling the epic dimensions of the cosmos.
Opens July 20