Sunshine

Directed by Danny Boyle

Written by Alex Garland

2007


Production:

Theatrical: DNA Films & Ingenious Film Partners

Video: 20th Century Fox Pictures


Video:

Aspect ratio: approx. 2.35:1

Feature film: 1080p / AVC @ 16 MBPS

Supplements: SD/HD

107 minutes

20 chapters


Audio:

English 5.1 DTS Master Lossless

English DD 5.1 Surround

French DD 5.1 Surround

Spanish DD 5.1 Surround


Subtitles:

English, English SDH, Spanish, Chinese and Korean


Extras

• Commentary by Director Danny Boyle

• Audio Commentary by Dr. Brian Cox

• 2 Short Films with Introductions by Boyle

• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by the Director

• Enhanced Viewing Mode

• Journey Into Sound – Surround Sound Enhancement

• Theatrical Trailers in HD


Standard Blu-ray case: 1 disc

Release Date: January 8, 2008

Comment

I imagine critics find comparisons to Ridley Scott’s Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey and perhaps Solaris inevitable – these with a dollop of Friday the 13th’s Jason thrown in to ratchet up the thrill factor.  The blend works surprisingly well most of the time, despite it obvious mixed pedigrees.


I screened this movie twice, separated by 6 weeks, both times on Blu-ray.  The second time, I had several friends over and we naturally shared our views afterward.  This time, I had a quite different journey, beginning long before the arrival of the "fifth crew member," the appearance of whom had so derailed me the first time.  It had seemed, previously, that things had been going so well, so sort of realistically up that moment, and then suddenly we found ourselves in a quite different genre.  Now I see the film as a metaphysical examination of our uniquely human battle between Hope and Despair, and the arrival of the fifth crew member as the cinematic manifestation of that despair. [More on this at the end of  Score Card.]


     


The Movie : 8

A crew of 8 astronauts and scientists are on a mission to save our planet from a frozen future.  It seems that our Sun has lost some of its heat and the Icarus II is on a several year voyage in a last ditch attempt to kick start the star into behaving like its old self again.  Icarus I met with a fate unknown somewhere in the vicinity of Mercury, beyond the point where communication with Earth was no longer possible.  As the film begins, Icarus II is about to enter the same zone.  They send farewell greeting to loved ones back home, though they still expect or, at least hope, to be able to return.  From here on in they are on their own with only the ship's computer, their youthful wisdom and their dedication to the mission to guide them.  That mission is to deliver a giant nuclear payload directly onto the surface of the Sun that would, theoretically cause the necessary chain reaction.  But they soon encounter a new problem – several, in fact, stemming from the discovery of the derelict Icarus I.  The question is: Should they make a detour to rendezvous with what might be a dead end in the hopes of finding an operational payload to add to theirs with the risk of confronting the reason why the first Icarus failed, which just might put an end to their mission as well.


     


Image : 9/9

The problem for any video playback system in reproducing a movie like this is how it handles the extreme light values.  What is required is phenomenal brilliance, but not to the point of lack of color. Since I never saw this movie in the theatre I can only speculate as to this BRD's probable resemblance to same.  I think this Fox BRD delivers in this area.  The darker scenes tend to show grain, but not at all to the point of distraction.


     


Audio & Music : 9/7

The audio track is very good here, with excellent reproduction of both the faintest and subterranean passages. My one complaint was that "Jason's" name is buried in the mix so that it is nearly unrecognizable.  I speculate this might have been deliberate to keep us guessing until his identity is obvious.


     


Operations : 7

The difficulty for me was how light the text appeared for some of the Extra Features (see screen captures). The scene selection menu has no chapter titles and the thumbnails don't expand much, as you can see.


     


Extras :

The "Enhanced Viewing Mode with the Filmmakers" requires a player – yes, the player, not the display - with picture-in-picture capability.  Likewise, the enhanced audio feature demanded what I don't have.  My bad.  Sorry. The two short films are really short (about 7 minutes each) and really out there – in fair to poor 480i.


     


Recommendation: 9

I found the metaphysical discussion and its various dramatic implications intriguing, but thought that "Jason" (my quotes) was a cop-out, but on a second viewing, I discovered a meaning for "Jason" that made sense.  In any case, the art design is breathtaking and quite compelling.  A great visual and sonic showpiece and very much worth the voyage.


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

January 5, 2008


     


Revisiting Sunshine

From the outset, humanity's hope for survival in the face of a dying sun lies in a gamble. The crews of both Icarus missions are instructed to bring their payload to the surface of the sun and there ignite the possibility of new life.   Whoa!  Sounds like tampering to me.  I mean, there's Science. And there's God's will.  But in this film, it isn't so much Science that is opposition to the "natural order of things," but Hope.  Rational choices are made, but there is no evidence, no experimentation, to have demonstrated that our plan will succeed. When Kirk asks Spock to "make your best guess" in The Voyage Home, and McCoy observes that Spock's best guess is better than our certainty, Spock's calculation is, nonetheless, a guess, a toss of the coin, a crapshoot.  If he's wrong by as much as his own standards for error permit, they don't get home.  Likewise, for the mission of the Icarus.


Despair has always been understood in terms of Darkness; Hope in terms of Light.  The biblical God of Creation first brings Light to Chaos, out of which Life and Order spring.  But Salvation can be found in the dark as well.  Jonah is cast into the sea and in the darkness of the great fish, he finds his way back to his mission.  The same for Jesus, who prays alone at night in the garden to clarify his purpose and resolve.


The voyage to the sun is necessarily made in the dark, facing away from the sun.  It is not merely the sun's gravity that draws Icarus and its crew to it.  Every crewmember is desperate to know and understand what it means to see the face of the sun. The crew's psychologist requires his periodic, filtered fix of sun.  Despite the artificial light of Icarus, doubts arise, tempers flare, mistakes are made.


     


Is the Sun our one true God, our birth mother, the Light of Genesis?  In any case, it is clear to director Boyle and writer Garland that the role of the Church is to keep us in that Dark, and that for us to rearrange the Universe according to our needs is forbidden, like the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil, else to meet the fate of the mythological Icarus and fly too close to the sun, only to fall back to Earth, the wax of his wings having been melted by the Sun – by God, if you will.


Is it God's intention that we not get too close, or only the Church's to keep us in the Dark?  Does Eco in The Name of the Rose have the right idea about the Church's role in all this?  Paranoia is how we project our doubts and fears onto the Other - a state of eternal confabulation.  Does not Ignorance feed paranoia?  Is the Church not the ultimate manifestation of paranoia?  It is no wonder that the first Icarus mission meets with an emissary from the Church, which represents in this allegory: Despair in the face of Hope?  The second mission quite naturally follows the same path, as one incident after another causes the crew to doubt the success of the mission.


What may appear to us as thinly disguised homages to Kubrick and Scott, are, perhaps, necessary plot devices, just as the roles of engineer and physicist often clash in science fiction.   One of my guests last night offered that Kubrick may have had the most pessimistic view of our future as a species in 2001: A Space Odyssey when he shows that progress through evolutionary consciousness is not possible for human beings as such.  For each time the monolith appears we are advanced through the species: where apes saw bones lying about, humans saw tools.  And where humans use technology to voyage through the solar system, the "space child" is at such an advanced level of consciousness in terms of the space/time continuum, it is a different species altogether.  So, the view is not pessimistic in terms of evolution, merely that we won't be there to see it or understand it any more than apes can understand what is different about humans.  An interesting idea.


In its way, Sunshine begins with the appearance of the monolith outside Jupiter, but with a very different purpose and outcome.  The view of Boyle and Garland is that we can proceed through the Dark Side as long as we maintain Hope and Courage, and that our dreams out of our better nature are not inspired by the Church – quite the contrary - but by our natural humanity, of which we are its sole proprietor.  We may not succeed altogether, and probably won't, but our peculiar self-aware voyage through Life, regardless of the roadblocks, is what makes us who we are and what makes Life worthwhile even though we end up as dust.


LN

rev. February 17, 2008


     


   

      
    
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