DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Sunshine - DVD Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}Solemnly toned ‘outer space' movies have certain inescapable tenets that too few of these sci-fi drama/thrillers have made unforgettable use of. There are only three films in this realm typically considered memorable—2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Solyaris (1972), and Alien (1979)—with all three having come to define the outer space sci-fi genre at its otherworldly best. All three films center on a flight crew living within a futuristic and cavernous—yet tight quartered—space ship, and a mysterious signal that steers the crew's intended space mission in an unexpectedly surreal—and deadly—direction.

To director Danny Boyle's (28 Days Later) credit, Sunshine does not deny this sci-fi pedigree, even having its own female version of 2001's talking—reasoning—on-board computer HAL 9000, here called Icarus. With high ambition, Sunshine keeps in focus a historical reverence for its celestial cinematic ancestry. Boyles' ability to merge oozing imagery, sound effects, special effects, and editing is unquestionable. Industry gossip and artistic result suggest that Boyle is a perfectionist. Hollywood trade reports confirm that Sunshine spent one year in post-production. Visually his film stimulates. The movie's relatively modest $40 million special-effects-laden budget splashes the screen.

Sunshine's spaceship Icarus II is already in orbit when we meet its crew of astronauts and scientists on their way to blow up the sun. The sun is dying—the earth being covered in perpetual cold, snow, and barren trees—and this is the last ditch hope to save mankind. The mission is to deliver a ‘payload' bomb that detonates inside the sun such that it gives way to a re-energized star that bathes the earth in its warm, life-giving rays once again. The operation takes an ominous turn when communication signals are received from the crew of the Icarus I, the name of the original mission/crew that set out to save the earth's sun years earlier. Icarus I failed to complete its mission, with the crew remaining unaccounted for. Until now.

This time around, mankind's fate rests in the hands of physicists, bomb-builder, and Icarus II crewmember, Capa (Cillian Murphy, Batman Begins). As Capa, Murphy does an adequate job conveying the weight of his burden via a stoic sense of duty and emotional gravity. Nevertheless, this is a high-concept movie so Murphy is nothing more than a cog in the ‘spaceship' wheel, as it were. The only real star in this cosmic sci-fi drama is the awe-inspiring sun itself. Director Boyle heats up the screen with impressive imagery of the sun, the Icarus II spaceship, and outer space immensity, with almost every exterior shot compliments of CGI effects. Boyle has no doubt done his homework with this effort. He pays tribute to the genre's master directors—Stanley Kubrick (2001) and Ridley Scott (Alien) particularly—by following their paths into a frontier bearing his own signature.

Embracing whatever creative style and commentarial substance Sunshine offers will be a matter of individual fondness for the genre's clearly defined and restrictive ground rules and, more specifically, the predictable nature of the proverbial outer space ensemble piece. Characters being picked off one-by-one—the maverick, the geek, the manly woman, the self-preservation-obsessed prick, the loose cannon, the martyr, etc.—by a mysterious supernatural villain. Given the specialized nature of the genre, the degree of enjoyment in Sunshine will have more to do with taste, rather than heightened senses of sight and sound. Character development notwithstanding, this genre is revered by some—reviled by others—for its deliberate pacing, emotionally stilted characters, and sense of pending doom. In other words, it's all about atmosphere. Sunshine fits the bill here, too. It is likely a compliment to tag Sunshine a sort of arty sci-fi ‘film noir', presented with a mixture of old-school sci-fi reverence and contemporary visual and auditory stimulation. It's a faithful update on a downbeat thrill ride in which everybody dies for the greater good—in this case, everybody else's survival.

In this dawn of the 21st century—with Global Warming issues dominating political posturing and moviemakers doubling as social activists—that a movie would be made about the sun dying and the earth growing colder, rather than warmer should not be lost on audiences. Whether it's an Inconvenient Truth (2006) or Sunshine, it would appear that demagogues and celluloid artists want the masses—voters and ticket buyers alike—to heed their apocalyptic messages.

DVD

DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English

Language and Sound: English: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo; French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; director's commentary; web production diaries.

* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with director Danny Boyle and U Manchster's Dr. Brian Cox
* Deleted Scenes - with optional director commentary
* Featurettes
o Web production diaries
o 2 short films
* Theatrical trailer

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging

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