Let the sunshine in; film Sunshine (Cert 15) Starring: Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Cliff Curtis, Troy Garity, Benedict Wong and Michelle Yeoh; director Danny Boyle. 107 mins. Rating: *** THE BIG PICTURE.
WHEN Southport artist Frank Hampson created the strip cartoon Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, for the Eagle comic in the early 1950s, his first story was about a missing spaceship and Dan's rescuemission.
The missing spaceship story has since become a cliche of science fiction, constantly being reworked. Sunshine is the latest.
Indeed, there are somany familiar sci-fi story lines in the film that a feeling of deja vu quickly overcomes you.
Set 50 years in the future, the sun is dying out and a spaceship Icarus has been sent to detonate a special bomb in the sun to create a new star and save the world. But the ship has vanished.
So here we are with Icarus II loaded with a similar bomb but one which has used up all the elements on earth used to create it. So this is a final mission.
The Bruce Willis film Armageddon also proposed a bomb as a way of saving the world (that time to blowup a wayward asteroid) while Icarus II has some similarities to the Alien spaceship complete with a crewof "characters".
Alas, fewof those on the ship (and most of them looking as if straight out of high school) make much of an impact, apart from, perhaps, Cillian Murphy, from director Danny Doyle's earlier cheap sci-fi thriller 28 Days.
One thing Sunshine does not look is cheap.
Using most of the hi-tech stuff available to film-makers these days, the space ship is a wonder to behold, including a complete rain forest inside to keep the crewfed and lots of flashing lights (Dan Dare had to make do with dials and a big red button).
Naturally, the script by Alex (The Beach) Garland, who also scripted 28 Days, throws lots of problems in the way of the space crewand it soon becomes clear they will not all survive - at one point, they realise they will have to cut down on the crewif they are going tomake it to the sun with sufficient air.
There are explosions, trips outside the ship that go wrong, and eventually a decision to investigate the first Icarus when they hear signs of life from the crashed vehicle.
As with Alien, the cast list is demolished one by one as the voyage proceeds.
With no big stars around, it is a guessing game as to who will go next.
There are some moral questions to be answered by the crew, although some have obvious answers - should they abort the whole mission to save one crewmember? With the whole world freezing to death and about to expire, it's a question most sensible people would hardly spend a few seconds on.
Boyle does keep things on the boil with cliff-hanger following cliffhanger and you never knowuntil the final seconds if the mission succeeds.
By then, of course, you may have stopped caring with a ship full of tantrums, petulance and stupidity.
The battle to save the world continues with a plan to detonate a bomb in the sun; Cillian Murphy leads the mission to save the world