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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Sunshine

Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted January 12 2008 - 12:44 PM



Blu-ray Disc Review




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Posted Image
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Original Release: 2007
Length: 107 min
Genre: SciFi/Action/Thriller
Film Rating: R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Colour/B&W: Colour

BD Specifications:
Resolution: 1080/24p
Video Codec: AVC @ 16mbps
Disc Size: BD-50

Audio:
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

    Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish, French, Cantonese, Korean





  • Release Date: January 08, 2008.


    Film Rating: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    Starring: Cliff Curtis (Dr. Searle), Cillian Murphy (Capa), Michelle Yeoh (Corazon), Hiroyuki Sanada (Capt. Kaneda), Rose Byrne (Cassie), Benedict Wong (Trey), Chris Evans (Mace), Troy Garity (Harvey)

    Directed by: Danny Boyle
    Written by: Alex Garland



    There comes a time when I’m looking forward to seeing a particular film. A mixture of the film’s concept, the director and actors involved, as well as an interesting theatrical trailer is enough to make me raise an eyebrow and crack a little smile as to what I’m going to expect from it. Rarely do these films exceed my expectations, many fall into the “acceptable” category, and some are remembered as being downright disappointing. I found Sunshine to be the median of the three.

    The sun is dying in the not-so-distant future of 2057. For mankind to survive extinction, a crew of eight men and women are set on the space shuttle Icarus II to spend many years of their lives flying to the sun. Their mission: to hurl a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan, their “payload,” into the star to re-ignite it and save Earth. It’s a good theory to people on earth and they have no idea if it will actually work, but in this desperate time they have no other choice because they are the second attempt at this mission and all effective resources have been depleted on earth. The first mission, Icarus One, was a failure in that all communications with the crew were lost and the payload was not delivered.

    On route to the sun, just at the point of no communication with earth, the crew receives a distress signal from Icarus One that is floating off in the far distance. The crew’s dilemma is either to veer off mission to possibly save the lives on Icarus One (if there are any survivors at all) or to ignore the fellow astronauts and continue forward with their mission for the greater good of saving Earth. A majority of the crew decides to risk and take their mission too high with confidence and melt their wings in the sun. The decision causes division within the crew, followed by errors in calculations that lead to a series of mission failures and death among the crew. These setbacks cause Icarus II to risk suffering the same fate as the first: an incomplete mission. But this time the world dies. So if you wake up one morning and it’s a particularly beautiful day, you’ll know they made it.

    The special effects in the film are pleasant to view – I found the scene with the crew noticing the planet Mercury for the first time – scuttling across the sun – to be a rather exhilarating moment, just as if I were there with the crew. If real, I would find the same scenario just as amazing and the scene was done so well I was caught in my own disbelief. Other effects of the planet surface were just as effective, leaving much of it in darkness and mystery.

    Beware! Spoiler: As much as I liked many moments in the film, the technology and concepts aren’t placed far enough in the future to be believable. It’s less than 50 years from now and the film’s creators are reaching high for a lot of advancements in technology. I also couldn’t help but take one major issue with this film: crazy people. I can handle the impossible scientific premise of the film for the story’s sake – it’s a sort of fairy tale – but the film uses the excuse of a madman for unexplained troubles and eventually, the events for the climax of the film. I feel this is was cheap way out to explain anything, because with madmen anything is possible, right? The film’s feeling changes considerably and becomes “typical” for the final third. As I reflect on what became scenes spun with little character and direction, it’s a win-lose film and will be remembered that way.


    Posted ImageVIDEO QUALITY: 3.5/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    This Blu-ray disc brings the promise of very clear high definition images from this film source. The smallest items are nicely detailed without any artificial enhancement destroying real resolution. Wide shots, especially those effects shots taken in space, appear to be the most finely detailed images of all. But the image falls a bit flat. It’s muted throughout with brown and green taking a slight step forward ahead of all other colours. Colours never bounce off the screen, but then the film does take place in a spaceship with dim metallic hallways and arteficial lighting. Image depth is satisfactory. While fine detail seems to exist on the master, image contrast is only fair which contributes to that flat appearance. The weak black level is the main culprit here, often looking light gray in comparison to the “black bar” of the blank area created by the 2.35:1 image. These areas most often appear noisy but never so far as to be completely unacceptable.

    Posted ImageAUDIO QUALITY: 3.5/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    If I were to define the word “bass” I would use Sunshine as an example to help clarify the meaning. I’m not so sure this is a good thing either. While most viewers of this disc probably praise the sound design as being full of impact and dynamics, I’m going to bust their bubble and say I wholeheartedly disagree and they’ve been tricked. In a hifi sense, this soundtrack is a disaster. While loud, dynamic range is relatively flat and compressed sounding unless we’re talking about the bass. It’s best described as letting free a mad pit bull to jump up and tear you apart while the rest of the world seems perfectly comfortable in not getting involved with the loose cannon. The LFE can have it’s share of sonic boom, but the most frightening thing for me was the extreme bass coming from the four main channels. I seriously thought if there was one film I was going to destroy a speaker on it was going to be this one – and my setup is capable of handling quite a bit of intensity. I pray for those of you who are insane enough to leave a small speaker set to LARGE (even if it’s floor standing because it’s not a large speaker by default) and play this back at reference level. This soundtrack can also put to rest any naysayer of directional bass because you'll be assulted from all corners of the room. I didn’t find this bass necessary; the only good thing about it is that it helped me identify a few more vibration points in my room. This mix was clearly intended for movie theaters rather than home theaters because it was just too overwhelming and tiring.

    All channels seem to have plenty of activity throughout. The surrounds were almost always active but varied in volume level. This made the soundtrack effective in terms of creating space around the listener, but depth and detail is wanting. The music score is the best part of the mix; it creates an ambiance that suits the film and engages the viewer more. It’s also the best-recorded item as well. Dialogue is clear but inconsistent in tonality for each actor over the course of the film. Overall, the audio just seemed too thick and heavy on systems capable of very high resolution. Smaller systems may not be able to reproduce this effect, which is blessed trade off. The audio is encoded in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio and rare for Fox, English Dolby Digital 5.1.


    TACTILE FUN!! Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
    TACTILE TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: ON

    Deep, sustained bass in the LFE. Even more if you set your main channels to “small” and redirect the bass to the LFE!!

    Posted ImageSPECIAL FEATURES: 3/5


  • Audio commentary track one of director Danny Boyle and track two of Dr. Brian Cox of the University of Manchester. I’ll be honest; skipping through audio commentaries can be a bit of a tedious task unless I’m deeply interested in the film. Here we have one right from the director’s mouth about the film and another from a professor who acted as a technical advisor of the film.

  • Deleted Scenes (18.53) – thirteen are included with optional commentary by Danny Boyle and are windowboxed at 2.35:1 in standard def only.

  • Web production Diaries (38.31) – there seems to be about thirty-two of these all varying in different lengths. They are essentially “making-of” shorts that are just as good, if not better than much of the garbage behind the scenes featurettes I’m so used to seeing on discs. These ones are actually interesting and to the point.

  • Short Films - with a one minute audio intro by Danny Boyle, this disc includes two short films Boyle wanted to include on this disc. Dad’s Dead directed by Chris Shepherd and Mole Hills directed by Dan Arnold. Both are just over seven minutes and are easy to get through. No harm in watching these as short films usually provide an interesting look at storytelling.

  • A Brilliant Vision - an enhanced viewing mode for Profile 1.1 compliant players, this is a PIP window that pops up while watching the film. It’s not consistent throughout (only about 17-minutes worth of material) and can be accessed separately if viewed on a non-compliant player (in full 4:3).

  • Journey into Sound: Surround Sound Enhancement - another Profile 1.1 compliant feature that allows one to somewhat change the audio mix of four scenes to see how it affects the mood of the film. It’s cool to play with and the start of a potentially better feature on future titles.

  • Theatrical Trailers - a teaser and a trailer is here in HD as well as trailers for other previously released Fox BD titles.


    IN THE END...

    The Blu-ray disc of the science fiction film Sunshine is a welcomed addition to my collection. While I criticized the film and the A/V quality, I still enjoyed the movie experience in general. I’d watch it again and because of that, I’d recommend checking out this disc.

    Michael Osadciw
    January 12, 2008.

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    #2 of 19 OFFLINE   Kyle McKnight

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    Posted January 12 2008 - 12:49 PM

    I'll wait for a deal before picking this up. Thanks for your time!
    Kyle McKnight

    #3 of 19 OFFLINE   Joseph J.D

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    Posted January 12 2008 - 03:51 PM

    Thanks for the review. I'm quite interested in picking this up but will wait for a better price before I do. These FOX titles are just too highly priced for me to justify purchasing on release day........especially on blind buys such as these. They could take a lesson or two from Warner Bros.
    Recently watched- Lethal Weapon, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, Home Alone, An American Christmas Carol, It's A Spongebob Christmas!, Four Christmases, Love & Other Drugs, Assault On Precinct 13(1976), Lovejoy Christmas Specials, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Die Hard, Up 3D, The Grandmaster, Edge Of Tomorrow 3D, The Comedy Of Terrors, The Raven(1963)

    Currently watching- Planet Earth, True Blood: Season 2, Gatchaman: The Complete Series, The Equalizer: Season 2, Tales From The Crypt: Season 2, WKRP In Cincinnati: Season 1, Arrow: Season 2, Star Trek: Season 1
     
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    #4 of 19 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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    Posted January 12 2008 - 08:43 PM

    I'm with you Joseph!

    I never saw this film theatrically. I am intrigued enough to buy it
    blindly, but at the exorbitant prices that are being charged for a BR
    release like this, I'm just going to have to pass.

    For those that saw it, was this film good?

     

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    #5 of 19 OFFLINE   Sam Davatchi

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    Posted January 13 2008 - 01:19 AM

    This is an excellent film and I will purchase it on BD as soon as possible. And for the record, I didn't enjoy "Solaris" and "Event Horizon" when I saw them. (things and people change. I don't know how I would feel if I see them today)

    #6 of 19 OFFLINE   Jim_K

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    Posted January 13 2008 - 02:20 AM

    Quote:
    I am intrigued enough to buy it
    blindly, but at the exorbitant prices that are being charged for a BR
    release like this, I'm just going to have to pass.

    This statement really has me scatching my head since the pricing on this is pretty much in line with any other BR and HD DVD new release film. How is this exorbitant compared to any other new release by any other studio except Warner and Disney?

    I'd assume you also consider Universal and Paramounts new release HD DVD pricing exorbitant correct?

    For example:

    (Fox BR) Sunshine MSRP $39.98 Amazon $27.95
    (Universal HD DVD) Eastern Promises MSRP $39.98 Amazon $27.95
    (Paramount HD DVD) Zodiac MSRP $39.98 Amazon $27.95
    (Warner BR and HD DVD) The Assassination of Jesse James MSRP $35.99 Amazon $24.95
    (Sony BR) Accross the Universe $38.96 Amazon $26.95
    (Disney BR) Gone Baby Gone $34.99 Amazon $23.95

    And FWIW I watched this last night and I enjoyed it. As with any film I'd recommend to anyone else rent it first. I don't want to get blamed for wasting $28 of someone else's money which could go to a pizza and 12-pack of beer instead.
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    #7 of 19 OFFLINE   Shane Martin

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    Posted January 13 2008 - 02:33 AM

    I agree with Jim. I paid $29 for my copy. Sam's had it for $27. Combo discs are atleast that much around here.

    I liked the film and completely disagree with the scores given above. Those are WAY WAY to low.

    The 3rd act was a letdown but it still doesn't diminish how good I thought the film was.
    Quote:
    I also couldn’t help but take one major issue with this film: crazy people.

    Crazy people is certainly understandable after all they were in space for a bunch of time. It hasn't been tracked yet on how long a man/woman can spend in space before the mental aspects of it take over.


    #8 of 19 OFFLINE   Frank L

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    Posted January 13 2008 - 02:54 AM

    I am sorry but this is a somewhat disappointing review.

    The film itself is excellent, one of the better sci-fi movies I've seen in the last two or three years. Danny Boyle did a really good job with this one.

    I thought the video and the sound were pretty good as well. The blacks are fine, honestly, though there is some noticeable noise here and there. Also, you have to remember that this is a stylized film, so it's bound to look a bit different.

    As for the special features, I agree that the PiP is a bit too short, but I thought the commentary tracks were good, specially the second one featuring Dr. Brian Cox, he was really engaging I thought.

    As for the price... come on guys, what exactly do you want? You want to buy the movie for 10 bucks? I picked up mine from Amazon for $27.95 and I think that's a darn good price.

    F
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    #9 of 19 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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    Posted January 13 2008 - 04:19 AM

    In his audio review, Mike O. writes:
    "It’s best described as letting free a mad pit bull to jump up and tear you apart while the rest of the world seems perfectly comfortable in not getting involved with the loose cannon."

    That is the single most exciting description of an audio track I've ever read!!

    Mike, you were talking about the DTS-MA track, right?

    Since we seemed to be starved for any sci-fi movies these days, I'm happy to pick this one up blindly. It seems any sci-fi pick must also have monsters or be horrific. What happened to the strict sci-fi story? I'm not saying I want a new The Black Hole, but there's gotta be another Blade Runner out there!
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    #10 of 19 OFFLINE   WillG

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    Posted January 13 2008 - 04:27 AM

    Quote:
    I am intrigued enough to buy it
    blindly, but at the exorbitant prices that are being charged for a BR
    release like this, I'm just going to have to pass.

    I may just have to suck it up and buy. I am also intrigued but I don't feel like waiting the 10 years for the BD to become available at Netflix
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    #11 of 19 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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    Posted January 13 2008 - 05:22 AM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shane Martin
    I liked the film and completely disagree with the scores given above. Those are WAY WAY to low.
    ....................
    Crazy people is certainly understandable after all they were in space for a bunch of time. It hasn't been tracked yet on how long a man/woman can spend in space before the mental aspects of it take over.

    Hi Shane

    Since we all have A/V systems that reveal different aspects of the sound and image, there will be varying opinions about the quality of presentation especially when each person has their own set of criteria. While the gear used in my system has evolved in a steady upwards direction over the past five years here as a reviewer, my criteria has stayed consistent so I feel my scores reflect that consistency. A score of 3.5 will still deliver an excellent presentation.

    Interesting point about spending time in space; I read an article earlier this year that they are preparing to put about 6-8 people (volunteers) in a closed scenerio for about 3 years to mimic that of a mission to Mars. It's a simulated mission of course, and they want to see what it will do to people (especially between men and women) over such a long travel with minimal contact with Earth. Would people go crazy? It probably won't be for everyone, just as the ending of this film isn't. I just found it a cop-out for an otherwise well produced film.

    Pat - thanks for the comments Re: the audio. I thought the analogy worked well! ...and yes, that was describing the core of the DTS-HDMA encoding.

    Enjoy guys!
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    #12 of 19 OFFLINE   JonZ

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    Posted January 13 2008 - 05:23 AM

    The image kind of varies.

    There are some shots like when theyre in the control room that are muted.

    A couple scenes later when theyre in the greenhouse room that the colors pop of the screen - especially the greens and blues.

    The ship itself is kind of cold, but there are vibrant colors around it, the control panels, the sunprotecting suits, the sun itself.

    The first hour is the most perfect scifi could could ask for - and everyone who sees it will have to decide if the last 30 minutes work for them.

    Well worth owning IMHO.

    #13 of 19 OFFLINE   dave wright

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    Posted January 13 2008 - 07:17 AM

    Im glad this was a rental for me.
    Tho borrowing from Alien,2001 etc SUNSHINE does not come close to the suspense,storylines and thrills that those films offer.The eye and ear candy offered up by SUNSHINE are substantial,but at this blu rays price tag im glad i rented.

    #14 of 19 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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    Posted January 13 2008 - 12:04 PM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein
    I'm with you Joseph!

    I never saw this film theatrically. I am intrigued enough to buy it
    blindly, but at the exorbitant prices that are being charged for a BR
    release like this, I'm just going to have to pass.

    For those that saw it, was this film good?
    I was very pleased with the A/V quality. The film itself...at first it aspires to be "serious" sci-fi and shoots for Kubrick's 2001 but falls short and settles into orbit around Hyam's 2010. Then in the third act it completely goes off course and becomes a pretentious shadow of Event Horizon. I was really, really disappointed - considering it started with such promise.

    #15 of 19 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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    Posted January 13 2008 - 12:05 PM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WillG
    I may just have to suck it up and buy. I am also intrigued but I don't feel like waiting the 10 years for the BD to become available at Netflix
    I rec'd my Netflix copy a few nights ago.

    #16 of 19 OFFLINE   loganhunter2002

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    Posted January 13 2008 - 05:44 PM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Felix Martinez
    I was very pleased with the A/V quality. The film itself...at first it aspires to be "serious" sci-fi and shoots for Kubrick's 2001 but falls short and settles into orbit around Hyam's 2010. Then in the third act it completely goes off course and becomes a pretentious shadow of Event Horizon. I was really, really disappointed - considering it started with such promise.

    Couldn't agree with you more. The movie had some promising moments at the beginning but then it sucked big time. Posted Image
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    #17 of 19 OFFLINE   Reggie W

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    Posted January 14 2008 - 12:27 PM

    I have to agree, this one is a rental only. Not one I would watch again and does not even have the replay value of a 2010. The acting is so-so and the drama is forced. It does look pretty good some of the time and the director did study other popular sci-fi flicks and has plenty of cutaways to the exterior of the ship for no other reason than to show it off and because all the characters are poorly written it does become one of those films where the only interesting thing about them is how they are killed off. Pretty much it seemed like they had less of a sci-fi story and more of a 12 Little Indians story as that is what this is.

    #18 of 19 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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    Posted January 14 2008 - 12:36 PM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Reggie W
    ...and has plenty of cutaways to the exterior of the ship for no other reason than to show it off...

    I was trying to find a nice way of saying this in the review and the words couldn't come to mind...so I just dropped the comment altogether. Thanks for saying what I couldn't manage to do!

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    #19 of 19 OFFLINE   Reggie W

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    Posted January 14 2008 - 04:23 PM

    I thought your review was great, Mike. This was a film I had been very interested in seeing and happened to be visiting my brother and he had rented it. So we watched it and I was pretty much not impressed and I was going to blind buy this one so I'm glad I did not. I mean the scene where two of them have to leave the ship to fix a panel was designed just to get them outside the ship so they could show you what a cool ship they had designed. The way this film was cut was just terrible, in my opinion, and it seemed the director had no feel for sci-fi. The characters are just cardboard cut-outs and there is nothing interesting about any of them. So he just kept showing the characters inside the ship and then boom...cut to an exterior shot to show off our cool ship again. There was no flow to the thing and it seemed to jump from one thing to the next with random bits stuck here or there. It was sort of like a really dull, poorly edited version of Event Horizon, which for the record I was not real crazy about either but at least I'd watch Event Horizon again.

    I like a good sci-fi flick but it seems they just are not making them much anymore.





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