Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 34
  2. Negative: 1 out of 34

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Critic Reviews

  1. A bare outline of the plot reads like a space-adventure thriller with end-of-the-world stakes and a hint of celestial spirituality, and the haunted spaceship twist in the third act is pure B-movie madness.
  2. Sunshine is near-classic modern science fiction, hobbled only by a chaotic final reel and some casting missteps in the white-male department.
  3. 88
    If their movie doesn't float your boat as a work of science-fiction, action, philosophy, heliocentrism, or staggering visual spectacle (although, it really should), then it certainly succeeds as a parable for cinematic ambition.
  4. Another thinking-person's thriller from director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland, also co-pilots on "28 Days Later."
  5. A first-rate, seemingly sweat-free entertainer, Mr. Boyle always sells the goods smoothly, along with the chills, the laughs and, somewhat less often, the tears. He’s wickedly good at making you jump and squirm in your seat, which he does often in Sunshine, but he tends to avoid tapping into deep wells of emotion.
  6. Sunshine is its own creature, taking inspiration from classic science fiction films but insisting on a gritty reality that much improves on past space adventures.
  7. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    In moments--the early moments--Sunshine can feel like a new genre classic, albeit one heavily in debt to its predecessors.
  8. Beam yourselves aboard Sunshine, set 50 years in the future. The voyage works, beautifully.
  9. 75
    Hard-core science fiction fans will likely greet Sunshine with a smile. Others may find this to be an odd motion picture, but there's enough going on that even those who are expecting something flashier should still be engaged.
  10. 75
    Science-fiction fans will like it, and also brainiacs, and those who sometimes look at the sky and think, man, there's a lot going on up there, and we can't even define precisely what a soliton is.
  11. 75
    As a pure cinematic experience, it's exhilaratingly, brutally beautiful.
  12. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    The fact that Boyle and Garland have here created something close to an actual trip rather than the mere spectacle that most screen sci-fi contents itself with being nowadays is enough to recommend Sunshine.
  13. 75
    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."
  14. 75
    Despite the efforts of the cast (Byrne and Murphy are particularly good), you rarely feel a thing for any of them, but I don't think you're really supposed to, anyway. The characters in Sunshine tackle thorny ethical questions and debate the sanctity of life on their way to the sun, but the movie is really about the voyage, not the voyagers. Enjoy the sights.
  15. This sci-fi thriller -- which is alternately nail-biting, gorgeous and a little silly -- spends most of its time throwing mechanical and human errors at the most important space mission ever.
  16. They’ve taken "2001" and Tarkovsky’s "Solaris" and "Silent Running," mixed in stuff from save-the-earth pictures like "The Core" and "Deep Impact," and thrown in a cheesy climax out of "Alien."
  17. 70
    The most indelible moment I took away from Sunshine, in which a tiny figure in a golden space suit floats away from the ship into the gravitational pull of the sun, is one of ecstatic, appalling loneliness.
  18. For though it can't maintain its momentum all the way to the end, Sunshine until it stumbles is gratifyingly far from the usual space-opera stuff.
  19. 70
    Sunshine does for sci-fi what "28 Days Later" . . . did for the zombie movie -- its tale about a manned space mission to the sun preys on our growing fear of obliteration as we confront global warming.
  20. Too much of Sunshine is like a cross between a middling "Alien" movie and "Solaris" (the woozy Steven Soderbergh version).
  21. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    As the film ultimately deviates from its course, the entire undertaking suffers.
  22. The whole thing burns out well before the director reaches his ­final destination.
  23. 63
    So what starts out as fascinating sci-fi becomes just fi, and winds up pulp fi.
  24. That last wrong turn completely undoes a picture that had been steering a very impressive course.
  25. Sunshine can be seen as a story about science and religion, about the rational mind and the mad. But at a certain point, like a dying star about to pop into eternal nothingness, the movie can't be seen as anything - it just implodes.
  26. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    Like a collapsing star, Sunshine initially burns brightly but finally implodes into a dramatic black hole.
  27. 60
    Ideas scintillate over the surface of Sunshine without ever quite igniting, but at least the movie sparkles. What it doesn't do is cohere. Action flick, sci-fi thriller, metaphysical adventure, incoherent allegory, ethical hypothesis, and horror film all at once, this mad multitasker has the agenda of a dozen movies. Problem is, we know which ones.
  28. 60
    Danny Boyle still creates an impressive world, visually rich and yet cold and claustrophobic.
  29. The characters are so sketchily drawn that it's hard to keep them straight, let alone get worked up about their survival.
  30. 50
    One of those unapologetically cerebral space-exploration sci-fi movies that's both boring and compelling at once.
  31. 50
    The film is nonsense, and what counts is whether viewers will feel able to lay aside their logical complaints and bask in what remains: a trip in search of a tan.
  32. Problems arise in the film’s third act, however, with a profoundly implausible plot turn that sends the movie skidding into bogeyman horror. It cheapens the sentiment, and the film doesn’t recover.
  33. Directed by Danny Boyle, it lacks even a single moment of charm or interest.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 285 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 83 out of 127
  2. Negative: 15 out of 127
  1. Feb 9, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Could have been good, if halfway through the movie it would not turn from science fiction to horror/supernatural. Started really good, the scenery was beautiful, the actors were good. The problems started when the "Sun is god" plot was introduced. They board the derelict ship that was sent to the Sun years ago, but failed to accomplish it's mission. It turns out that captain of the other ship is still alive and became some kind of burned monster and servant to Sun. The "creature" start to kill of the ships crew one-by-one, because Sun does not want the crew to restart it's rotation. Yeah this is where thing get rather silly and illogical. The movie from that point is nothing more than a cat and mouse chase movie between the "burned Sun servant" and the crew of the second ship. I did not like that when the "Sun servant" I don't know how to call it) was shown the camera became shaky and blurred. It was rather distracting, like the director did not know how to approach this part of the movie. The ending end everything else from that point is rather predictable. Overall an average horror movie. Full Review »
  2. Sep 25, 2011
    I got what I expected from Sunshine; a profound SF masterpiece that doesn't contain all those unnecessary dialogue and stupid characters.I got what I expected from Sunshine; a profound SF masterpiece that doesn't contain all those unnecessary dialogue and stupid characters. Though Danny Boyle was foolish to put a zombie into the movie, nevertheless its one of the year's best films. Full Review »
  3. May 1, 2013
    Spoiler alert!
    Reading reviews of Sunshine is a profoundly depressing experience, and reminds me that western culture is in its last death
    Spoiler alert!
    Reading reviews of Sunshine is a profoundly depressing experience, and reminds me that western culture is in its last death throes. Every single archetype, symbolism and cultural alliteration swushes as completely and utterly over the heads of reviewers as a Star Trek spaceship, before they proceed to complain about narratives they don`t understand because of illiteracy and an ending they understand even less for the same reason.
    On a first viewing, Sunshine is a visually impressive, if claustrophobic story of a group of scientists on their way to reignite the Sun with the largest nuclear bomb in NATO history. Nothing special there, and if this is all the movie remains for you, more impressive movies can certainly be found. But even on a first viewing it should be obvious that there is another story being told that reaches down into the very foundations of western cultural traditions. You`d think reviewers born and raised in the west might notice this therefore. No such luck!
    To mention all the symbolism, religious and cultural references contained in Sunshine is not easy; indeed I may not even have noticed them all. But from the basic allegory of the Sun as truth/God/creating force present in the Greek, Egyptian, Roman and Christian traditions, many of them are so evident I squirm with embarrassment on behalf of those who fail to notice even any of it.
    The first is the ship in which they travel, named Icarus after the Greek mythological figure who flew too close to the Sun so his wings fell off. As with everything else this is not a literal event being retold, but an allegory regarding the force of truth/God and the futility of trying to become God. If the entire movie is viewed as an allegory of the search for truth, you could easily see that most reviewers would need very powerful sunglasses indeed. If this is correct though, the gatekeeper of truth is the movie`s nemesis, Penbacker, who seeks to destroy the Icarus and prevent the crew from reigniting the Sun, by killing them all. Like a Syrian pillar hermit he has spent seven years close to God (the Sun) and presumes to have understood the futility of denying the death of God (truth), and aggressively seeks to prevent anyone from reigniting the Sun/remaking God/finding truth.
    The actual bomb is triggered from a cross-shaped scaffolding. The cross was traditionally a symbol of the rebirth of God, even before Christianity. Around this cross is a square, representing order. Logically then, as the bomb goes off and God (The Sun) is reborn on the Cross, the main character (Capo) transcends, is reborn as God and a new order begins.
    This is why the ending to the movie is the way it is. Not to be weird but to tell an allegorical story about God/truth/rebirth. To the allegorical illiterates in this weird society this is all nonsense of course, and Sunshine is a bad movie because it`s not simple enough for them.

    I could obviously talk more about all this, and it would be nice if at least one conversation about Sunshine would. Some people detest allegory and wouldn`t recognize a cultural symbol if it jumped up and gave them a haircut, which is perfectly fine. But it might be helpful if the people criticizing this splendid movie understood what an allegory is at least. Personally I firmly believe that certain things can`t be properly communicated without them, as my puny attempts to verbalize them here should illustrate, and I feel that movies with allegorical depth are the only ones that ever become classics. Much the same can be said of literature. And if it`s allegorical depth you want you can`t find a better movie than Sunshine. I defiantly vote 10!
    Full Review »