As a sensory experience, it’s overwhelming. But perhaps more importantly, Sunshine also harks back to a time when sci-fi turned its attention not toward the hallowed teen market but toward the heavens. Although screenwriter Alex Garland has said the inspiration for the film came from ‘an article projecting the future of mankind from a physics-based, atheist perspective’, this ambitious British fantasy increasingly blurs the boundaries between science and religion. In this respect, it falls within a grand tradition of adult-orientated science-fiction which is haunted by the question of divinity, whether as a presence or an absence.
He cites "2001" and "Solaris" as the film’s references in the sloppy kiss of a semi-review, but doesn’t mention a more recent attempt at what he dubs serious sci-fi â€” "The Fountain" was also ambitious, far-reaching, philosophical and so very straight-faced. Likely he didn’t want to jinx the film â€” on TV, it seems, we can tolerate some heavy themes in our outer space adventures, but when we go to the theaters, we want to see things blow up.
"Sunshine"’s release has been pushed back to September in the US, though it opens in most of the rest of the world over the course of the next two weeks. Director Danny Boyle is on the press circuit. At the Guardian, he tells Patrick Barkham that his next film will be "Slum Dog Millionaire," "based on a true story about a boy who wins the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire but faces the widespread suspicion that he cheated."
Boyle, slightly surprisingly, says he’d like to work with Hugh Grant. He also hopes to team up with [Ewan] McGregor again. The pair fell out badly when the director refused to cast his usual leading man in The Beach. They have only spoken a couple of times since and, momentarily, Boyle’s enthusiasm dims. "I don’t really hang out with actors. You can’t really be top friends with actors as a director because you are often judging them about something they want to do and you won’t give them."
We did some previews of this, like they do with test audiences in America. They’re always terrible for sci-fi films because the CG is never there. And they stand in front of an audience and they say, "The film you’re going to see tonight is called Sunshine. It’s not finished. You’ll particularly notice that the spaceship looks a little crude and two-dimensional, etc. Please be aware that when the film is finished and finally released, this will all be of a standard you’d expect to see in most movies." So they run the film, the people watch it, and when they ask for comments from the audience, of course the audience members just say, "Well the spaceship was a bit shit, wasn’t it?"
Boyle’s also over at the Telegraph talking to John Hiscock, and at the Australian being interview by Rosalie Higson. Meanwhile, at the Guardian film blog (whcih we seem to be citing a lot today) Samuel Wigley is more measured about the film, concluding "Despite its cumbersome dramatics, Boyle’s new film proves he’s still got the touch. Sunshine has the uplift of one of those light-boxes prescribed to SAD sufferers – few films about impending apocalypse have felt so optimistic, nor so attuned to the beauty about to be eclipsed."
+ 2007: a scorching new space odyssey (Observer)
+ The sun is the star (Guardian)
+ Danny Boyle (Guardian)
+ Another bright idea from Mr Sunshine (Telegraph)
+ Space riders of the apocalypse (The Australian)
+ Has Danny Boyle’s star returned to the firmament? (Guardian)