Sunshine takes a movie premise that has been done to death and does it so well that it almost feels like this idea has never been tried before. There’s a whole subgenre of movies where an intrepid crack team of scientists / adventurers / total lunatics embark on a mission to save the world by going all the way the heck out into the unknown, and most of them are pretty terrible: Armageddon and The Core come most recently to mind. Sunshine stands out by being a) not terrible by a long shot, b) grounded in as much physical reality as most Hollywood pictures can stand to get away with, and c) using the adventure premise of the story as a lead-in to something bigger and deeper.
The premise: The sun is dying (why? Eh, don’t ask), and a space mission has been sent out to reignite it with a special bomb. A previous mission was lost without a trace several years ago, which makes this attempt — codenamed “Icarus II” — all the more urgent. So far everything has been going according to schedule, but not long after Icarus II passes the point where it can no longer communicate with Earth, the crew picks up a strange signal — Icarus I’s distress beacon. They’re tempted to investigate, but Captain Kaneda (none other than Hiroyuki Sanada) says no: “Nothing, literally nothing, is more important than this mission.” Shotgun foreshadowing, to be sure, but only in retrospect.Read more