SUNSHINE (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
January 7, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“’SUNSHINE’ spots one of the most vibrant looking films that sports an awesome soundtrack and hours of special features. It’s a magnificent Blu-ray release but it all comes down to how one responds to the second half of the film (from a film about survival which later becomes a horror/slasher film) which will determine if you love it or hate it.”
DURATION: 107 minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p, AVC@16MBPS, Widescreen 2:35:1, DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio, English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish, Cantonese and Korean
COMPANY: DNA Films, Twentieth Century Fox
RATED: R (For violent content and language)
Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Alex Garland
Produced by Andrew MacDonald
Co-Produced by Bernard Bellew
Music by Underworld (Karly Hyde and Rick Smith) and John Murphy
Director of Photography: Alwin H. Kuchler
Edited by Chris Gill
Casting by Donna Isaacson, Gail Stevens
Production Design by Mark Tildesley
Art Direction: Gary Freeman, Stephen Morahan, Denis Schnegg and David Warren
Set Decoration by Michelle Day
Costume Design by Suttirat Anne Larlab
Cliff Curtis as Searle
Chipo Chung as the voice of Icarus
Cillian Murphy as Capa
Michelle Yeoh as Corazon
Hiroyuki Sanada as Kaneda
Rose Byrne as Cassie
Benedict Wong as Trey
Chris Evans as Mace
Troy Garity as Harvey
Mark Strong as Pinbacker
It is the year 2057, the sun is dying and mankind faces extinction. Earth’s last hope rests with a courageous crew of eight men and women on a mission to ignite the fading star with a massive nuclear weapon. Deep into their voyage, out of radio contact with Earth, their mission begins to unravel and they find themselves fighting not only for their lives, but for the future of us all.
Director Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”, “Millions”, “28 Days Later”, “The Beach” and “Trainspotting”) had been inspired by classic sci-fi films such as “Solaris”, “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Alien” and now it was his opportunity to direct his own sci-fi film.
“SUNSHINE” is a British sci-fi film released in theaters back in 2007 and featured a screenplay written by Alex Garland (“28 Days Later” and “The Beach”), music by Underworld (“Vanilla Sky”, “The Beach”, “Batman & Robin” and “Trainspotting”) and cinematography by Alwin H. Kuchler (“Proof”, “The Deal” and “Code 46”).
The film would revolve around an Earth saving mission set by Earth’s Icarus II who have set out towards the sun. Because the sun is dying, Earth has previously sent the crew of the Icarus to detonate an experimental nuclear bomb in order to reignite the sun. But somehow, something happened to the crew of the Icarus and thus, two-years later, a new crew of the Icarus II need to finish their mission to reignite the sun.
The film would be different than most films as the talent would comprise of International talent which Director Danny Boyle wanted to showcase how mankind has evolved in their space programs. Also, each actor had to go undergo method acting and in the film, the crew of the Icarus II had lived together for 16 months. So, in order to capture that, the talent had to live together and take part in space and scuba training, zero G training, operating a Boeing 747 flight simulator and taking a tour through an actual nuclear submarine. Also, to watch films such as “The Right Stuff” and “For All Mankind” plus researching the effects on a ship’s crew while in space .
Talents for “SUNSHINE” are:
Hiroyuki Sanada (“Speed Racer”, “Rush Hour 3” and “The Last Samurai”) as Kaneda – The captain of Icarus II
Troy Garity (“Lake City”, “After the Sunset” and “Barbershop”) as Harvey – The second-in-command and communications officer of the Icarus II.
Cliff Curtis (“Live Free and Die Hard”, “Fracture” and “Runaway Jury”) as Searle – The cool doctor and psychological doctor
Cillian Murphy (“Batman Begins”, “Cold Mountain” and “28 Days Later”) as Robert Capa – A physicist reponsible for operating the nuclear device.
Rose Byrne (“Troy”, “Wicker Park” and “Damages”) as Cassie – The pilot of Icarus II.
Chris Evans (“Fantastic Four” films, “Push” and “TMNT”) as Mace – The engineer of Icarus II.
Michelle Yeoh (“Heroic Trio”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Memoirs of a Geisha”) as Corazon – The crew’s biologist who takes care of the oxygen garden.
Benedict Wong (“Dirty Pretty Things”, “Mr. John” and “On a Clear Day”) as Trey – The navigator of Icarus II.
These eight member crew while nearing their destination receive a distress beacon from the Icarus I. The crew decide to rendezvous with the missing vessel and acquire another payload in order to increase their success in their mission. But when the navigator Trey causes a major error by forgetting to realign the heat shield, the Icarus II becomes damaged by the heat of the sun.
With their mission in jeopardy, each crew member must now sacrifice their lives in trying to fix their ship in the effort to save mankind. But what they discover on Icarus I will set the story in motion of what had happened to the crew of Icarus I and that possibly, someone from that crew may still be alive…and insane.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“SUNRISE” is one of those films that will be noted for its picture and audio quality. The film is presented on Blu-ray via 1080p High Definition (aspect ratio 2:35:1) with an AVC @ 16MBPS. Although the film takes place in the far reaches of space and there is rarely any interaction with anyone outside the ship, simply as this film is not a “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” type of film, each time Icarus or its crew are shown near the sun or interacting with the sun to crew walking through the corridors, colors are well-utilized.
Despite being in space, there is great use of certain colors, not through clothing design but through various lighting. The sun showcases the amber orange and reds, while the corridors and engine or oxygen planting areas showcase blues and greens. Blacks are nice and deep and overall, picture quality is solid. There is grain seen through the film but I would rather have film grain than overuse of DNR and this film looking soft.
As for audio, awesome utilization of audio. Great use of the front channels for the Underworld score, center channels for dialogue, LFE is heavily used throughout the film and surround channels are quite immersive. Overall, the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack for “SUNSHINE” is exceptional and you literally hear the audio all around you.
The film is also presented in English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1.
As for subtitles, “SUNSHINE” is presented with English SDH, English, Spanish, Cantonese and Korean subtitles.
“SUNSHINE” comes with quite a number of special features. Include are:
- Commentary by Director Danny Boyle – An entertaining commentary in which Director Danny Boyle talks about the visual and audio experience of the film and setting up certain scenes and what he wanted the talent to accomplish.
- Commentary by Dr. Brian Cox, The University of Manchester – A scientific commentary by Dr. Brian Cox who was a science consultant for the film and discusses which scenes are real to science and the scenes that are more or less not possible and made for the purpose of the film’s story.
- Deleted Scenes – Featuring optional commentary by Danny Boyle – Featuring optional commentary with Director Danny Boyle, a total of 12 deleted scenes including an alternate ending which are featured in two major parts. Here is what is included:
- PART 1 – Play Chess “It Really Takes It Out of You”
- PART 1 – Washing carrots in the oxygen garden
- PART 1 – Coolant Redirection
- PART 1 – Cooking
- PART 1 – Wake-Up
- PART 2 – Demolished Oxygen Garden
- PART 2 – Searle Meets Capa
- PART 2 – In Deeper Space Than We Are
- PART 2 – Prepping for Docking
- PART 2 – Rough Docking Procedure
- PART 2 – Fight and Then We Die
- PART 2- Alternate Ending
- Web Production Diaries – Featuring a total of 22 web production diaries (ranging from 2-5 minutes long). Featuring interviews with Director Danny Bole, the cast and crew and involvement with “SUNSHINE”, especially the training and experience the cast had to go through. You can play all or watch each web production diary separately. Included are:
- Danny Boyle Introduction
- Zero G Flight
- PRe Viz
- Science of the Sun
- Troy Garity Harvey Introduction
- Voice of Icarus
- Michelle and Oxygen Garden
- Anita Screens
- Alwin Kuchler
- Cliff Curtis
- Bumps and Stunts
- The Science of Space Travel Physiology
- Space Suit
- Rose Intro
- Love Letters
- Chris Evans
- Big Bangs
- The Science of Sun Death
- Short Films –(7:35) Two short films which include “Dad’s Head” directed by Chris Shepherd and “Mole Hills” directed by Dan Arnold. Director Danny Boyle talks about how he likes to utilize short films on special features and give these shorts some recognition.
- A Brilliant Vision: Enhanced Viewing Mode with the Filmmakers of Sunshine – This feature is only for Blu-ray players that have picture-in-picture enabled and during the playback of the film, people can watch various behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. (note: If your Blu-ray player is set to bitstream, you will need to manually change the audio to LPCM to get audio for the picture-in-picture segments). Included are:
- Icarus Kitchen
- Designing Icarus/Kaneda’s Room
- Zero Gravity Rehearsal
- Oxygen Garden Fire
- Stunt Jump Through Space
- Cast Preparing for the Film
- Pinbacker’s Makeup
- Mace Fixes Mainframe
- Space Suits
- Payload Shutdown
- Journey Into Sound: Surround Sound Enhancement – This feature is only for Blu-ray players that have picture-in-picture enabled and allows the viewer to manipulate the dialogue from four different scenes: Searle in observation room, Capa speaks with Icarus, Capa discovers Pinbacker and Capa battles Pinbacker.
- Theatrical Trailer – Included are the theatrical teaser (1:54) and trailer (1:59).
- Fox on Blu-ray
“SUNSHINE” is an interesting film. One one side, it’s quite creative of how the scenes are cut, some may find it creative, so may find it annoying.
The storyline is the same. The first half of the film features a clear plot of the crew trying to survive and accomplish their mission, the story switches gears in the second half of the film as it goes from survival film to horror/slasher film.
In a way, when I was watching the film, I was expecting a cross between “2001” and even “Solaris” but the film changed and next thing you know, things just change and everything becomes dark and bleak.
As a Blu-ray release, “SUNSHINE” has so much going for it. Awesome picture and audio quality and hours of special features. But as a film, knowing the kind of films that Danny Boyle has done, I guess you can say that there are surprises in store for the viewer.
But for those expecting a film about a crew trying to defy the odds and survive their mission, as the first half of the film seemed as if “SUNSHINE” was heading that direction, Danny Boyle rips the carpet right under your feet and gives you something different for the second half.
Some may be upset of how the film just changes to a horror/slasher film but I think that for those who enjoy Danny Boyle and Alex Garland’s work, it’s best to assume that they know quite well of how to change the situations of their films and give us a darker side to the characters or their environment.
With that being said, “SUNSHINE” is such a beautiful film that is meant for a High Definition release and its immersive audio soundtrack enforces that. But it all comes down to the viewer and what they’re open to. I personally enjoyed the first half of the film but the second half was not what I was expecting and thus, became disappointed because of the change of direction. But I should have known better, knowing that Director Danny Boyle was at the helm, Boyle is one of the top director’s known for his film and surprising audiences. So, it’s never good to feel that the characters will always be safe and there always has to be some sort of uneasiness on the viewer’s part that bad things are more than likely going to happen.
And those who appreciate Boyle’s previous work and want a near perfect transfer of the film, will definitely enjoy this Blu-ray release. “SUNSHINE” is one of those love it or hate it films. It’s hard to deny a film that looks and sounds great and comes with so many special features and all that went on behind-the-scenes. This is a solid Blu-ray release but it all comes down to a person’s overall view of the film and how they take it all in.
But I do feel that fans who appreciate and love Danny Boyle’s work will definitely enjoy this film and this Blu-ray release.
J!-ENT has not received any compensation from the company for this post. J!-ENT has no material connection to the brands, products, or services that are mentioned in this post.
For Product Reviews:
For product reviews, J!-ENT has purchased the above product for review purposes or may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free by the company which in no way affects our reviews, may it be positive or negative. We only recommend products or services we have tested/reviewed and believe will be good for our readers.
Some of the links in our posts are "affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, J!-ENT will receive an affiliate commission.
J!-ENT is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”