Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Cliff Curtis, Chipo Chung, Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Hiroyuki Sanada
Directed by Danny Boyle
Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment
“Sunshine … sweet love my labor
Don’t mind … I don’t care no more”
What? Oh yeah, movie review. Sorry I was having an Alice in Chains moment. We miss ya, Layne!
There’s no doubt Danny Boyle is a tremendous filmmaker. His work speaks for itself having released some sure to be classic films like 28 Days Later. I really dug that flick, but I’m still not entirely sure that I liked it on its own merits or the merits of the films it emulated, like Romero’s Dead trilogy. Either way there’s a fine line between imitation and inspiration and Danny definitely put his own stamp on that project. Now along comes his latest effort, Sunshine, and I must admit, I have that all too familiar taste in my mouth yet again.
Don’t get me wrong. Sunshine is an amazing film. It’s beautiful, frightening, and delivers everything you could want from a movie experience. But wow does it remind me of Paul W.S. Anderson’s Event Horizon. There’s no question Boyle’s film is way superior to Anderson’s on every conceivable level, but the similarities are uncanny.
In Event Horizon while on a mission a space rescue team comes across a haunted ship that disappeared several years ago. They are warned not to board it via a spooky distress message left behind on the ship but choose to ignore it. As a result one of the crew ends up horribly scarred and begins slaughtering the rest while proclaiming he is some form of god.
In Sunshine a space team on a mission to re-ignite the Sun are sidetracked when they come across the first ship that embarked on their mission that had failed and disappeared several years ago. Upon boarding the abandoned ship they are warned to leave via a spooky distress video. Guess what? They choose to ignore it and end up being slaughtered by a horribly scarred madman who proclaims he is doing it in the name of god.
Sure there’s a bit more to Sunshine, like why it was important that they board the other missing ship, and oh yeah, that whole pesky Sun going out business, but do you get where I’m going?
All that aside, Sunshine‘s biggest flaw lies in the instance that as soon as the character of said horribly scarred madman is introduced, the movie shifts focus and tone. It feels all of a sudden uneven. As if someone just completely changed gears on you. Gone is the epic sci-fi story, and in its place we’re left with your basic slasher fodder. Then there’s the surrealistic ending that I will not give away in the interest of spoilers. Ugh! What happened, man? Everything was chugging along so very well! If the last act of the film ends up flying with you, then you’ll probably end up loving this movie. If not you’ll be left, much like me, not terribly disappointed but scratching your head. Either way, shortcomings aside, Sunshine is an amazing film that should become required viewing for any sci-fi or horror fan.
The supplemental material doesn’t disappoint either. For a single-disc release this package is whopping! Things kick off with two commentaries. The first with director Danny Boyle is exactly what you’d expect: lively, informative, and an interesting listen. The second with Dr. Brian Cox from the University of Manchester, who served as Sunshine‘s scientific consultant, is a different story altogether. It’s not that it’s dull or boring, it’s just that it ends up feeling more like a college lecture than it does a film commentary. Still, Cox offers up some unique insight, and this is worth a skimmed sit through with your finger held snug against the fast forward button. Next up we’re served seven deleted scenes that clock in at about twenty minutes with optional commentary by Boyle only. Not much to see here honestly, but the more conversational alternate ending is very much worth a look. From there we get twenty-three short web-based video production diaries that cover just about anything you’d ever want to know about Sunshine over the course of about an hour. Finally things are capped off with two short films that are both introduced by Boyle. The first, Dad’s Dead, is a brief seven-minute mixture of live action and animation by Chris Shepherd and is a blast to watch! What this has to do with the film at hand is anyone’s guess, but Boyle liked it so it’s on the DVD. Next up is what could only be described as something that seems like a college film project by Dan Arnold entitled Mole Hills. This was a true “WTF?” moment for me. If watching the life span of several piles of dirt on a city street is your thing, man, you are in luck!
And there you have it, folks! Another new DVD that’s worthy of a spot in your home video library that’s artsy enough to please your film snob friends while remaining visceral enough to keep even the most jaded of horror fans glued to the screen. Simply put, Sunshine delivers.
4 out of 5
4 1/2 out of 5
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