Journey to the Center of the Solar System
Release Date: December 17, 1999
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh,
Chris Evans, Rose Byrne,
Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict
Wong, Troy Garity, and Mark
Genre: Science Fiction Thriller
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 108 minutes
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Director: Danny Boyle
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Andrew Macdonald
Writer: Alex Garland
Address Comments To:Peter Rice, President
Fox Searchlight Pictures
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
A division of Fox, Inc. and News Corp.
10201 West Pico Blvd., Bldg. 38
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-1833
Fax: (310) 369-2359
The movie stars Cillian [“Killian”] Murphy as Capa, an astronaut physicist charged with the mission of exploding a large, extremely powerful nuclear device into the sun to re-ignite it. The sun has started unexpectedly to lose its power, throwing the Earth into a perpetual winter. Earth already lost one spaceship seven years ago, so the crew of Icarus II is humanity’s last hope.
As Icarus II nears the sun, the crew discovers a distress signal from Icarus I, the other spaceship. Even if the crew there are dead, this may give the new crew a chance to have two chances to re-ignite the sun if the first chance fails. Captain Kaneda lets Capa make the decision, because he knows more about the physics behind the bombs. Capa decides they should go for it, but things start to go wrong, setting the crew’s nerves, and the viewer’s, on edge.
The special effects, set design and editing in SUNSHINE are superb. The story is tense and exciting, though the revelation of what happened to the crew on the first spaceship is somewhat uninspired.
The movie’s humanist theme is that the tremendous power of nature, as represented by the blazing sun, can either inspire men or drive them mad. This theme of people driven to madness and rage is similar to what happens in Director Danny Boyle’s two other famous movies, 28 DAYS LATER and 28 WEEKS LATER. The movie’s moral theme concerns ethical questions such as, should people willingly sacrifice their lives for the greater good of all or can people be forced to sacrifice their lives.
You would think that at least one of the characters might note that God might have something to say about all these things, but that is not the case. Instead, the one character who is most driven mad by the awesome power of the sun comes to believe that God has decided that the human race should be destroyed. So, he takes it upon himself to stop the other astronauts from completing their mission. This madman clearly has a warped, idiosyncratic view of God, however. For example, when the movie’s hero confronts him during a tense situation and blurts out, “My God,” the madman tells him, “Not your god. Mine.” Being so close to the sun that gives life to Earth has become a religious, awe-inspiring experience for this character and some of the other characters in the movie, but the movie does not present their experiences as a traditional, God-centered one.
Thus, the movie’s humanist theme overwhelms it moral theme, creating a humanist worldview that is more akin to scientific naturalism. Consequently, although there is tremendous, powerful sacrifice for others in SUNSHINE, this sacrifice is seen in the context of atheist (though perhaps not anti-theist) humanism, instead of Christian or biblical theism. This is a shame because the rest of the movie is so well done, including the movie’s last few shots, which end on a hopeful, poignant and sacrificial, but bittersweet, note.
SUNSHINE also contains plenty of strong foul language and brief scenes of bloody, somewhat gruesome violence, so moviegoers should exercise extreme caution.
The special effects and editing in SUNSHINE are superb. The story is tense and exciting, though the revelation of what happened to the crew on the first spaceship is uninspired. Regrettably, the movie’s humanist worldview overwhelms its moral, uplifting aspects and includes strong foul language and some brief extreme violence.