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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Thriller > Mystery > Horror > Sunshine (2007/Blu-ray + DVD-Video/Science Fiction Thriller)

Sunshine (2007/Blu-ray + DVD-Video)


Picture: A-/C+†††† Sound: A-/B-†††† Extras: B†††† Film: B



Films that take place in outer space of late have been shallow space operas, stupid fantasy exercises or just messes that should have never been greenlit.The last really strong one whose combination of Sci-Fi, Horror and Mystery worked was Paul W.S. Andersonís Event Horizon (1997, the Resident Evil director, reviewed elsewhere on this site) which dealt with the mysterious disappearance of a space ship and a new ship sent to search for the both the reason and some answers.A decade later, Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) revisits this kind of stark, serious, chilling, mature territory in Sunshine (2007,) but the stakes are much higher.


This time, the ship missing could cost the earth dearly as it was sent out with a very special cargo designed to reignite a dying sun.With the future of the whole solar system in their hands, a crew consisting of experts in various fields (Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh) are on their way before it is too late, but what should be easy will have more than its share of complications and when the reason the first ship has disappeared surfaces, the consequences will be fatal.


Yes, you get action and suspense, but what is most impressive with Alex Garlandís impressive screenplay is that they are able to revisit the territory of Event Horizon, Kubrickís 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ridley Scottís Alien and Douglas Trumbullís Silent Running, but still manage to stand out in the presence of such brilliant filmmaking.Another reason is an exceptional cast with more chemistry than you usually get in such films.Then there is Boyle, who has reached a new peak of directing powers as I donít know if he could have pulled this off even a few years ago.With impressive visuals, editing choices and a density we used to see in films all the time, you become enmeshed in the world as much as you do the storyline.


That it manages to keep up this pace for the whole film is the best thing of all, doing what films are supposed to do: take us somewhere we have never been before.Though it has a few predecessors, Sunshine also has very few peers and after being a hit everywhere in the world but the U.S., itís great to see it finally arrive on DVD and especially Blu-ray.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 16 MBPS digital High Definition image was shot by Director of Photography Alwin Kuchler, B.S.C., in 35mm HawkScope which uses real anamorphic lenses to create the scope image and not cheaper, weak Super 35mm means.In addition, 65mm negative was shot in certain sets and for certain sequences, plates and sequences, resulting in one of the best-looking films of 2007 and a high performance picture for Blu-ray.Yes, there are digital effects, but they are among the best weíve seen in years making this very engaging viewing worthy of the 35mm version I was lucky enough to screen in its limited release.The anamorphically enhanced DVD is a disappointment by comparison, in part because the old low-def format just cannot handle all this picture information.


The sound mix is also one of the best of the year, presented in a DTS HD Master Audio (MA) lossless 5.1 mix that is demo quality and even if you cannot decode the full MA signal, will never fail to impress those with a good home theater system.The DVD sadly only comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is pretty good, but is just not match for the DTS here.Dialogue is well-recorded and the John Murphy/Underworld score is one of the most interesting of the year.


Extras include two exceptional audio commentary tracks (one by Boyle, the other by Dr. Brian Cox of The University of Manchester,) deleted scenes with optional Boyle commentary, short films, web production diaries and original theatrical trailer (in HD on the Blu-ray) on both formats, but the Blu-ray adds a teaser trailer, Enhanced Viewing Mode with the makers of the film and Journey Into Sound allows you to play with the multi-channel mix and what a great one to try this out with.This is one of the first major features to take advantage of the new BD-Java capacity with the new Version 1.1 technology.Many have touted that HD-DVD has had better menus that Blu-ray, but that gap is closing quickly.


It is a shame that this was not released and promoted more widely by Fox, but maybe they were holding it hostage for Blu-ray.It is that good a film and especially in Blu-ray form, is going to be a favorite film for real film lovers as more and more people discover and experience what Boyle has pulled off here.In a time when the science is missing from Science Fiction, Sunshine will go down as a minor classic of the genre we cannot recommend enough.


And if you are a very serious film fan, be sure to consult the August 2007 issue of American Cinematographer Magazine for the specific details on how the film was shot.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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