There's nothing particularly fresh about novelist Alex Garland's script for his third collaboration (following THE BEACH and 28 DAYS LATER…) with director Danny Boyle. In fact, some of the corny dialogue sounds as though it had been lifted from an episode of Thunderbirds. But what this spectacular-looking sci-fi thriller lacks in originality it makes up for in pure beauty: It just might be the most visually audacious and startlingly beautiful space opera since the original SOLARIS.
As a solar winter descends on Earth and mankind faces extinction, eight astronauts aboard the less-than-fortuitously named Icarus II race toward the sun in hopes of detonating a nuclear device large enough to jump-start the dying star. The pressure is on: Earth's first attempt, Icarus I, disappeared mysteriously without completing its mission, and there aren't enough resources left on the chilly planet to build yet another bomb and the massive, Manhattan-size shield required to protect the spacecraft from the sun's dying but still powerful rays. Sixteen months into the mission, not long after entering Mercury's orbit, Icarus II receives a distress beacon from the missing Icarus I. Could the crew have survived? Not only would a rendezvous with the craft save their fellow solarnauts, but it would put two bombs at their disposal, doubling their chances of reigniting the sun. If, however, they're hearing nothing more than a fading SOS from a now-dead ship, the unscheduled detour would take the Icarus II far off course and pointlessly endanger both the mission and their own lives. (Biologist Corazon, played by Michelle Yeoh, tends to the ship's oxygen-producing greenhouse garden and has assured the rest of the crew that there won't be enough air for their trip home.) While coldly practical engineer Ace (Chris Evans) argues against risking everything, including the fate of the Earth, for the sake of a few lives, Captain Kaneda (Hiroyuki Sanada) leaves the decision up to the one man who he feels is best qualified to make it: the crew's physicist, Capa (Cillian Murphy).
Little of this material hasn't already been explored in countless combat movies of yesteryear — the difficult choice the crew must make between saving their own lives and the rest of mankind — and when the crew realize they've got a dangerous stowaway on board, it's hard not to think of ALIEN (1979). But Boyle makes much of the film feel new by wrapping the narratively conventional inside the visually extraordinary, and he serves up some truly stunning images. The countless shimmering-gold tiles of the disc-shaped shield that twinkles like the biggest mirror ball in outer space; a climactic moment of annihilation slowed down to the point at which one crew member can be seen hovering on the border between being and stardust; and the dying sun itself, pictured as infinite folds of roiling, white-hot gas curtains with the mesmerizing power to drive the sanest person to believe they're in communication with God. Here comes the sun indeed.
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- Released: 2007
- Rating: R
- Review: There's nothing particularly fresh about novelist Alex Garland's script for his third collaboration (following THE BEACH and 28 DAYS LATER…) with director Danny Boyle. In fact, some of the corny dialogue sounds as though it had been lifted from an episode… (more)