Blu-ray
Recommended
3.5 stars
Overall Grade
3.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3.5 Stars
Supplements
2.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Recommended

Sunshine Superman

Street Date:
March 1st, 2016
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
May 11th, 2016
Movie Release Year:
2014
Studio:
Magnolia
Length:
102 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
PG
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Have you ever sky-dived or jumped off a tall cliff or building? The answer to the latter is probably not, but you've probably seen other people do that insane feat on television or in extreme sports at some point. 'Sunshine Superman' is a documentary about a guy named Carl Boenish, who basically founded the sport of base jumping, which was originally called fixed object jumping.

If you're still confused, it means that you jump off a very tall building, mountain, or cliff, instead of an airplane. Boenish was a man whose brain was as fast as an MTV Music Video Award show, who would never back down from the next challenging and dangerous jump. His speech, mannerisms, and personality were all such high energy, that he exuded a strong confidence in himself that he could accomplish anything put in front of him.

Filmmaker Marah Strauch captured the essence and life of Carl Boenish and his career as a filmmaker and base jumper, which inspired many people today to push the limits of extreme sports. Boenish was the Evel Knievel of sky diving and base jumping. Through many interviews with friends and family, and tons of archival footage, alongside some present day re-enactments and new interviews, we see the life of Boenish from when he was an electric engineer, to when he first discovered sky diving, which he explains in an old interview with Pat Sajak.

From here, Boenish became an ariel photographer for the film business, working on big projects such as 'The Gypsy Moths'. As Boenish jumped out of an airplane more than 1,500 times, he looked and longed for something more, which brought him to Yosemite National Park to the El Capitan mountain in California, where he and some friends filmed themselves jumping off.

This sparked a new movement so to speak, where he and his friends and others would jump off tall buildings and mountains in the city or countryside, sometimes avoiding law enforcement. This is where he met his wife Jean, who went base jumping with Carl. A good portion of the film is devoted to the couple breaking the world record from jumping off of the Troll Wall, which was televised. Right after the success of breaking the world record, Carl went to a nearby mountain, which he thought was dangerous, but jumped anyway, and met his demise at the age 43.

It's an unfortunate accident, but at no time do you think Carl was unsafe or gambled recklessly with his or other people's lives. He had such a persona and aura about him that his personality was so magnetic, that he could take you under his wing very easily and make you feel safe and comfortable about jumping off a cliff, and film your adventures towards Earth. Stauch shows this likable guy so well, and luckily for her, Boenish recorded everything, so there was a lot to draw from and inspire future generations to break the mold and achieve your dream. 

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Sunshine Superman' comes with a 25GB Blu-ray Disc from Magnolia Entertainment that is Region A locked. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic eco-friendly case with no inserts or digital download code. Upon start up, there are several trailers that play before the main menu.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Sunshine Superman' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio as well as 1.33:1, depending on what vintage interviews or footage are being shown in this documentary. The newer footage and re-enactments were show on a Red camera, where as older interviews and footage were shot on 16mm by Boenish himself, so there is a variety of different levels of consistency in the video quality. That being said, Magnolia has done a great job in restoring the older footage here.

The new footage looks very sharp and vivid, showcasing the great landscapes all over the world from a high altitude. Interviews show great facial features as well. The older footage looks a bit weathered though with the usual problems that come up with vintage broadcasts and interviews like these. Colors are realistic and bold throughout, even in the older footage, which is nice. Black levels are deep and inky and the flesh tones are natural. Despite the issues that crop up in the archival and vintage scenes, this video presentation looks quite good.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and just like most documentaries, the sound comes from the front end of things most of the time. There are some sounds that come from the rear speakers, mainly being the excellent music selection that goes with this documentary that coincides with the time period of Boenish's life.

The dialogue in the interviews and archival footage is always clear and easy to follow along. The newer footage and interviews have a bit more depth, which is expected. The sound effects are natural and never overly done. For a documentary, this audio presentation is quite nice, but the highlight here is the music.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Flying Dreams: The Making of 'Sunshine Superman' (HD, 10 Mins.) - Director Marah Strauch and a few other consultants discuss the life of Boenish and how she set out to make this documentary with her unique style and vision. Great interviews.

'Masters of the Sky' (HD, 14 Mins.) - This is more or less a montage of base jumps, sky diving jumps, and other high flying athletics, all molded into one short film.

'Sky Dive!' (HD, 15 Mins.) - This is like the short film above, but is more elegant and less jumbled with quick cuts.

Trailers (HD, 9 Mins.) - Trailer for the film and other movies from Magnolia.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives. 

Final Thoughts

'Sunshine Superman' is an inspiring documentary about doing what you love and achieving your success with your friends and family. Not only did Carl Boenish capture some amazing ariel footage of his jumps, but he also captured his amazing spirit, gall, and guts that drove him to push the bounds and persuade others to jump with him. He was extremely likable and a lot of fun, and just oozed with life. It's a charming and incredible documentary, despite the sad outcome. The video and audio presentations are both good, and the extras here are worth watching, leaving this documentary recommended!

Technical Specs

  • 25GB Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, Spanish, French

Supplements

  • Flying Dreams: The Making of Sunshine Superman
  • Masters of the Sky (A Short Filmpoem by Carl Boenish
  • Sky Dive! (A Short Filmpoem by Carl Boenish)
  • Theatrical Trailer

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