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The careers of Danny Boyle and Alex Garland seem to be consistently intertwined. Following his 2000 adaptation of Garland's novel The Beach, director Boyle called upon the writer to pen the screenplay for his post-apocalyptic horror film 28 Days Later.

Fast-forward to 2007 and a sequel to 28 Days Later hits cinemas  with producers' credits for both Boyle and Garland. The reason for their relatively minimal commitment to the film? They were too busy collaborating once more; on sci-fi thriller Sunshine.

Sunshine
The movie starring Cillian Murphy ( 28 Days Later,  Red Eye), Chris Evans ( Fantastic Four) and Michelle Yeoh ( Police Story 3, Tomorrow Never Dies) was greeted with disappointing box-office, but film fans now have the chance to re-evaluate it as it arrives on DVD...

Feature


The sun is dying. With Earth's source of energy about to go Supernova, mankind comes up with a plan; detonate a bomb in the sun and kick-start the birth of a new star. Unfortunately, the first attempt at this went awry when Icarus 1, the space-craft sent to do the deed, disappeared without trace. And so it falls to the crew of Icarus 2 to try again. There's just the small matter of insane crew-mates, perilous space-walks and a limited supply of oxygen.

A budget of £20 Million may be relatively small for a sci-fi adventure, but Sunshine looks like it cost significantly more. It holds its own in comparison to Hollywood blockbusters because the CGI creates a visually arresting movie with an array of special effects that are unlike anything seen before. However, Sunshine  isn't driven by the CGI; rather the characters and the story.

The cast is pretty solid too; Cillian Murphy is as reliable as ever and, if the film accomplishes anything, it's showing us there's more to Chris Evans than the Fantastic Four's Johnny Storm. It's refreshing to see a group of characters in a relatively mainstream movie that are not necessarily likable. Over the course of a relatively slender running time, they are faced with a multitude of ethical dilemmas. Whether these are the ‘correct’ decisions gives the audience something to ponder.

Sunshine
For the most part, Sunshine is an intelligent and well paced movie. It's therefore a slight shame that seventy minutes in, it ditches the sci-fi angle and switches to horror film for its final quarter. This kind of genre change isn't new to cinema (look to The Green Mile and The Descent as two recent precedents) but it doesn't make it any less jarring. This is 75% Solaris, 25% Jason X.

Movie-buff trivia states that Sunshine went through a torturous thirty-five rewrites, which makes the ending even more baffling. Surely the denouements of those other thirty-four versions could have been better than the one we got? It's true that you can't judge a film simply on its finale, but the bitter after-taste that Sunshine leaves tends to erase the good work it had done in the first three quarters.

Video


Sunshine is presented in anamorphic widescreen at the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It has to be said that the disc has its work cut out when it comes to picture quality; half of the movie takes place in relative darkness while the other half takes place in eye-retina damaging brightness. It's a relief that the disc truly delivers in terms of contrast and clarity. The picture is sharp and the colours full of depth.

Audio


A 5.1 Dolby Digital track does Sunshine some favours, complimenting the fine picture quality to create a winning experience for home-cinema enthusiasts. Dialogue is crisp and clear while special effects are given added weight by making use of the sub-woofer. Surround sound effects are a little limited, but this cannot detract from a fine audio mix.

Sunshine

Extras


Sunshine has been treated to two commentaries. The first is with director Danny Boyle, who gives a thorough insight into the long journey from script to screen. The second is with Dr. Brian Cox from the University of Manchester, who acted as a scientific consultant for the movie. This is not quite as dry as you'd expect and Cox makes a surprisingly good commentator.

There are a number of deleted scenes, including an alternate ending. Sadly, none of these really add much difference to the overall effect of the film and were presumably trimmed to keep the film to a buttock-friendly running time.

Those who followed the film's progress of the internet will have probably seen the ‘Production Diaries’ before. They range from nauseating back-slapping sessions to genuinely interesting ‘making ofs’.

Beefing up that extras list are the addition of two short films which Danny Boyle was eager to bring to a wider audience. Dad's Dead, a gritty and innovative film surely has the edge over the, frankly dull, Molehills. Finally, we have the theatrical and teaser trailers.

Sunshine

Overall


A fine presentation of a movie that, while ultimately disappointing, holds enough merit to warrant a cursory glance from sci-fi fans. While this is—barring A Life Less Ordinary—Danny Boyle's weakest hour and forty minutes, it is not quite the mess you may have been led to believe. However, due to the flaws of the finale, this is one to stick on the rental queue rather than the shelf.


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