January 8, 2008

DVD Pick of the Week: Sunshine

Welcome back, once again. I hope the young year is finding you well and I certainly hope that you made the decision to skip the lone theatrical release of the year in favor of one of the holdovers, or decided to curl up with a past DVD Pick of the Week recipient. I know, last week did not offer up much, but it did have some guilty pleasure like titles. This week lands towards the other end of the scale. Three of this week's titles were recently vying for a spot on my as yet unpublished top ten of 2007 list. Beyond that, there are still plenty of titles to spark your curiosity or fuel your wariness.

Considering the quality of the week's highest profile releases, it was a tough decision as three of them pulled ahead in a dead heat. As they rounded the first corner a western took the early lead, but the further they went it lost a bit of steam, falling into second place in the back straightaway. The next leader was a crime procedural from earlier this year. This film had the strongest legs, and stayed in the race the longest. Still, it too succumbed in the long run. Coming from the back of the pack is a fascinating film that combines spirituality, the bigger scope of humans communing with a higher spirit with a more visceral slasher approach. It proved to be the one release that had what it takes to come out the other end a winner. Seriously, though, none of them are bad, and all are worth seeing, but only one can be deemed the Pick of the Week.

Following a long, hard, and grueling race to the finish, Danny Boyle's existential science fiction film, Sunshine, emerged the winner. How to describe Sunshine? Well, it's a blend of 2001, Event Horizon, Solaris, and even has a dash of Jason X for balance. An odd mix to be certain, but even with all of those flavors, director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland make it all seem fresh.

It is an evenly paced film that explores the effects of long-term space travel on the crew, as well as the super-serious ramifications of the success of their mission. It is a movie that travels in the realms of hard science and the metaphysical aspects of communing with God. I admit that some of the material escaped my grasp with only one viewing, but that failed to dampen the enjoyment I was able to extract from it. It is a movie that has some interesting things going on, and not all of it has to do with the primary plot.

There is no denying that this is an engrossing visionary science fiction film that has much to offer in the way of repeat viewings. Danny Boyle has succeeded in delivering a fascinating genre film that is unlike anything he has done previously. If you are looking for something new and different, this is one you will want in your collection.

Extras include: Audio Commentary with Danny Boyle, Deleted Scenes, Web Production Diaries, and a pair of Short Films.

Also out this week:
  • 3:10 to Yuma. This was the first leader in the PotW derby, and it is an excellent film. It is filled with action and drama, and features a pair of strong performances from Christian Bale and Russell Crowe.
  • Death Sentence. The literary sequel to Death Wish is brought to the screen by James Wan and star Kevin Bacon. It is a brutal affair of revenge and the lengths that people will go to achieve that end.
  • Zodiac: The Director's Cut. The third film in the derby is David Fincher's lengthy and engrossing crime procedural. It arrives in a new cut, which is said to not vary much from the theatrical cut, but it does have plenty of new extras.
  • Dragon Wars. Now, I cannot recommend this film as a good one, but it does fill the bill as a guilty pleasure that is so bad its fun.
  • Eagle Vs. Shark. This film hails from New Zealand and tells the story of social misfits who find love. Looks like fun.
  • Joshua. Omen redux? Perhaps, it still looks pretty good. A young boy reveals a darker side when his life is threatened by a younger sibling.
  • Boogeyman 2. Direct to video sequel to a horror flick that I actually liked. It features Saw star Tobin Bell.
  • White Noise 2. The original was awful, I cannot see this being any better. Although, it does feature Nathan Fillion (Serenity) and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica).
  • Frankenhooker. The title alone makes this one a winner.
  • Fight: War of Words. Rob Halford in his first post-Judas Priest project, and one of the finest outfits of the early 1990s.


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