The first thing that really stands out about this movie is the impressive cast which includes actors such as Rose Byrne (28 Weeks Later), Cliff Curtis (Collateral Damage), Chris Evans (Fantastic Four), Troy Garity (Bandits), Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins), Hiroyuki Sanada (Rush Hour 3), Benedict Wong (Spy Game), and Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Fortunately the actors, in almost every case, put in performances far surpassing those in their 'big blockbuster' movies. Who would have ever thought that Chris Evans could really act after seeing him in Fantastic Four?
While it may be rather predicable this movie was a joy simply by the way it builds up the tension from the opening moments. As soon as you meet the characters you know they have been in isolation for months, and it's starting to take a toll on their daily lives. You really feel for each character as their mission falls apart and they struggle for survival, both mentally and physically. If there was a disappointment with Sunshine it would certainly be the final third of the movie which changes tone from a dramatically tense space drama to more of a horror slasher movie. While it didn't totally destroy the movie, the ending turned what could have been something quite special into something little more 'teen popcorn' flick.
So While this is not the best film that I have seen recently, Sunshine was one which still managed to impress, despite the pretty average ending. The acting is great across the board, the movie gives you a great feel of isolation in space, the set design is great - particularly the external viewpoints - and the visual effects are solid as well. This is a movie worth checking out if you haven't seen it as yet.
It must be pointed out that the latter part of the movie uses quite a bit of intentional visual distortion, so confirming the clarity of this transfer is a little difficult a times, but we were impressed with the early portions of the film. Having said that there was the occasional scene which looked a little out of focus, but those moments were infrequent to say the least.
Other tracks on this disc include English Descriptive Audio 5.1 at 384kbps, German DTS 5.1 and Spanish DTS 5.1 each of which is encoded at 768kbps. They aren't quite as clear as the English track, but are certainly more then acceptable from the brief samples we tried. Subtitles are provided in several languages for the feature and commentary tracks. Feature subtitles include English for the Hearing Impaired as well as eight other languages
Commentary with director Danny Boyle: Danny Boyle provides a very interesting commentary about the production of the movie including quite a bit of technical detail. He even goes into the mixed-race cast, and certainly discusses the ending which is a topic of some debate. This track is well worth a listen. This track is encoded in 2-channel Dolby Digital at 224kbps.
Deleted Scenes (18:54): A series of twelve deleted scenes which include an optional audio commentary from Danny Boyle which explains why the scenes were cut. Having said that many of the scenes are extended version of scenes in the movie. Each scene is encoded in Standard Definition but using the AVC codec for improved clarity.
Web Production Diaries (46:47): The bulk of the 'video features' can be found in these development diaries which appeared on the internet. There is plenty of production and 'on-set' footage available and while it still feels too broken up this is not a bad watch from start to finish. The video has been encoded in Standard Definition but using the AVC codec for improved clarity.
Short Films (14:41): A rather strange inclusion as neither film has anything to do with Sunshine. Instead Dad's Dead and Mole Hills are two short films which Danny Boyle wanted to include on the disc to give them a wide audience and get the director's noticed. While Dad's Dead is pretty good I honestly didn't get much out of Mole Hills at all. Perhaps I'm not arty enough, or smoking enough weed! I do applaud Danny Boyle for making the effort to include them though.
Theatrical Trailers (3:29/HD): Both the teaser and theatrical trailers are included. The teaser is only presented in Standard Definition, while the full trailer is presented in HD. Strangely the full theatrical trailer seems to tell much less about the movie then the Teaser - perhaps that's why the movie struggled to sell at the box office.
Review By: Dave Warner