Sunshine (2007)

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Hiroyuki Sanada, Cliff Curtis, Benedict Wong, Mark Strong

Directed by: Danny Boyle

Rating: 1 2 3 4 5

Chris Evans and Cillian Murphy in Danny Boyle's Sunshine

The year is 2057. The sun is dying, and with it, our planet. An international band of top-notch scientists and astronauts has been launched into space to detonate a gigantic bomb in the heart of the ailing star, in a desperate bid to reignite it. But banish all thoughts of macho, Armageddon-style heroics - this is a dark, gritty, gripping and, on the whole, thoroughly convincing journey into the shadowy heart of the sun. It is, after all, the vision of Danny Boyle, the man who made Edinburgh ugly and zombies run: it was never going to be lighthearted or clichéd.

Just as he did for Trainspotting, Boyle has assembled a fine cast of up and coming actors, including the fabulous Cillian Murphy (who's fast becoming one of my favourite actors ever) as the gawky physicist Capa, Fantastic Four's Chris Evans as the hot-tempered, testosterone-fuelled, all-American hero Mace, and the gorgeous, tough Michelle Yeoh as Corazon, the botanist in charge of the onboard oxygen garden. We know from the start they're all doomed to die (they've travelled for 16 months to blow up the sun - that's really not a spoiler) and yet the characterisation is so strong and the dilemmas they face so human, horrific and heartbreaking that we care, we really care, and are on the edge of our seats as their fates unravel.

Unsurprisingly, the film owes a large debt to Alien (watch out for the knowing nod - ho ho) and yet, after a gasp-eliciting twist in the tale and a showdown that's pure futuristic schlock horror, the ending is curiously reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, as the remaining crew go out in a dazzling blaze of glory that's as moving as it's bombastic.

The special effects and cinematography are simply stunning: from blinding solarscapes which sear the eyeballs to breathtaking, sweeping shots of a vast, intricate, ever-rotating spaceship that looks like a cross between the Darth Vader's vessel and Jodrell Bank, this is a film that's crying out to be seen on the big screen. It may not be Armageddon, but believe me, you won't want to close your eyes or miss a thing.

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