Sunshine Blu-ray Review
PictureThis BluRay disc is offered up at 2.35:1 using the MPEG-4/AVC codec, naturally at 1080p. Sunshine is a beautiful film to look at and has an excellent detailed transfer. Space blacks are rich and deep, velvet like with distant stars apparent and the gantry like structure of the ship still standing out against the void. The outer scenes of the craft's structure is finely detailed, flashing lights still retaining their definition as the ship glides into the distance, the swinging arms of communication towers, the panels on the reflective dome, the ships heavy windows through which you can see the crew - all of these wonderful to look at and fans of the big ship passing overhead will not be disappointed.
Internally it's no different. The colour palette has been reduced to clinical blues and greys but the detail on offer is sublime. Every control, every display device in the ships main control room can easily be identified and read. Again here contrast and blacks hold up well, with excellent shadow detail apparent in the cooling sequences, some sleeping quarters and the internals of the Icarus I. Skin tones hold firm, no over saturation and certainly no sense of bleeding anywhere to be seen.
Lush greens are on display within the horticultural zone whilst rich deep yellow and gold are presented for the sun and some beautifully designed exterior suits. As would be expected for a film which is less than a year old the print shows no sign of damage, no grain, dirt, scratches or other blemishes. There's a little noise on the transfer but it's never excessive nor really continual so it never really gets in the way of viewing enjoyment. Equally as most individual scenes are shot within the narrow claustrophobic confines of the Icarus II there's a lack of three dimensionality but that can't be attributed to the transfer as a whole.
Sunshine is a wonderfully beautiful picture to behold and if, like myself, you feel the third act is a little off kilter then you still have a fantastic looking picture just to sit back and enjoy.
SoundThere's a narrow Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448kbps but really if you can take advantage of it you really need to be looking at the DTS-HD MA pumped up version. Again alas, I'm still only able to extract the core of this but even so it's a stunning chest thumping beast. Be aware that it is loud and it is bass heavy at certain points so remember not to crank it too high.
Initially there's not a lot of exposure to the surrounds, but it's not as though you're sitting there thinking, this is sci-fi where's the audio fly over. You don't think that because the nature of the film doesn't dictate it. Mainly character and dialogue driven for at least the first 60% of the film most of the audio will be presented from the frontal array with only a couple of scenes, the external space walk for instance, bestowing life into your almost dormant surrounds. During these opening scenes the mid and high tones are in active use and there's a wonderful sense of range on offer here.
The score, by Underworld's Karl Hyde and Rick Smith and also John Murphy is a stirring piece of work which will pad out the fronts expanding the frontal stage as necessary. It's emotive and deep, in tune with the visuals on show and adds a certain depth to the piece, which compliments the visuals perfectly and is one of these sound tracks which adds to the film, pulling the viewer into the presentation.
Later scenes and a few earlier actions scenes show heavy LFE use and greater use of surrounds. The LFE is low, heavy and will shake your room a little, the surround use is well place, and steerage is acceptable from sprinklers, fireballs, explosions and escaping gasses. Sunshine then is an odd soundtrack really, not the in your face round every speaker you might be expecting from a sci-fi production but spot on really for its needs at the time.
- Commentary with Danny Boyle.
Well there he is speaking to us in his best George Formby accent and it's good to hear once and a while British accents as opposed to the standard American drawl. Danny has always come across as pleasant enough guy, one who you wouldn't mind sharing a pint and chat with down your local, and here he's no different. He mentions production techniques and ways of saving money, the glorious work done by the special effects teams and the musicians and of course how lucky he was to have found a close knit group of actors which worked well together.
- Commentary with Dr Brian Cox - University of Manchester.
Like Boyle, Brian comes across as a likeable chap, not blinding you with science per se, but explaining how our sun which has billions of years left in it could in fact start to decay from tomorrow. It's a thought provoking piece, especially if you have some interest in science itself, the suppositions he puts forward are explained well to the mere laymen - you and I.
- Enhanced Viewing Mode: "A Brilliant Vision".
Being a Profile 1.1 release this has the option of supplying a standard HD-DVD feature, Picture in Picture. If this option is activated a small window appears in the lower right of the screen giving further information or commentary on the scene in question. The galley area is mentioned, as are another 9 areas. If your player hasn't yet been upgraded with 1.1 firmware or in fact if it can't be then fret not as these additions can be played individually. Would you want to though that's the issue, they're not that great in all honesty and it appears that PiP and its use still has some way to go before being meaningful, on this medium at least.
- Deleted Scenes.
7 scenes, a combination of additions and deletions and one alternative ending which I feel should have been given a little more exposure, in the main though they're trimmed for the very reason that they're just not good enough. Worth a watch though most definitely.
- Web Production Diaries.
Marketing is everything these days, and viral marketing is ripe; look at Cloverfield for instance. The web plays an enormous part in this though; it's a cheap and effective medium through which to distribute content. Here we have pre production diaries that were designed just for that. It's the usual run of the mill stuff, shot on low resolution cameras with very brief snippets from cast and crew. Interesting but has no longevity.
- Short Films.
2 short films which Danny Boyle has persuaded the powers that be to put on the disc. This I feel is an excellent way of new artists to gain some exposure and Boyle should be applauded for making this happen. The films themselves are your typical student / amateur fare, the first being rather odd but captivating the second just a little too strange for my tastes. Enjoyable though and a breath of fresh air, I do hope to see more of this on future releases.
The original trailer plus trailers for 28 Days/Weeks Later, X-Men III, and Aliens Vrs Predator. All in HD with is something I suppose.
- Journey Into Sound: Surround Sound Enhancement.
Again you'll need your Profile 1.1 player for this. Apparently you're able to isolate distinct audio channels from certain scenes and move them from speaker to speaker. Sounds fun if nothing else and although there are brief instructions before this 'feature' kicks off my PowerDVD was able to move the cursor around the screen and virtual speakers but I wasn't able to distinguish sound being moved from place to place. Probably a bug within patch 3730 but really I don't think it's worth reporting, I'm sure someone else will who has more time on their hands.
Wow, Fox what's up, normally we're lucky if we get a trailer, here though not only do you give us 4 trailers a couple of commentaries and a few, albeit short, documentaries but you've actually made these compatible with Profile 1.1 so finally BluRay is able to enjoy features which have been accessible for HD-DVD for some time, bravo! The commentaries are worth a listen and although the PiP stuff works its content is lacking somewhat, at least we know the genie's out of the bottle now though.
VerdictFor me it's one of those love hate relationships; I love the start of the film up till about 70% of the way through when suddenly I thought "How did we get here? What happened to change this from exciting cerebral exploration to hide and seek?" The visuals are stunning at times accompanied by a resounding track which made me really feel for the characters on screen. I wish there was an option on this disc where I could watch the visuals with just the score, turn off all dialogue - I think it would be a worthwhile experience.
It's Profile 1.1 and I'm happy to say that it plays successfully on PowerDVD as long as you have the 3730 patch installed. PiP works well; the other 1.1 feature is a gimmick and really shouldn't be on there. It's an unusual Fox disc as it has a wealth of enjoyable extras not the normal “here's the trailer” we've come to expect from this studio. Two good commentaries, a few additional scenes and documentaries certainly pad the disc out without it feeling too bloated.
Yes ok so in the end I still enjoy Sunshine and I'll still be going back for further viewings to see if I can make sense of that third act. Some say it's a revelation and very spiritual in nature, me I just don't buy into that philosophy and I wonder if I ever will. To me it seemed like a waste, a let down and a departure from what was until then a riveting piece of work. Still I can recommend this disc as a whole though if only from a visual and audio standpoint they're both superbly executed.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.17
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- Commentary with Danny Boyle.