AGAINST THE SUN — A Solid Take On A True WWII Survival Story

Against The Sun was released on DVD on May 5 by Anchor Bay/Starz.

Based on a true account, Against The Sun is the survival tale of three airmen whose plane is downed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Garret Dillahunt (Raising Hope), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series), and Jake Abel play the three men, whose plane loses radio contact and runs out of fuel.

Stuck together on a tiny rubber raft with no food or water and few supplies, they survive for over a month adrift.

The film takes us through the harrowing weeks that follow: acquiring water and food, praying for divine intervention, talking about their lives back home, getting rocked by a storm, and surviving several close encounters with sharks. The storytelling is very linear, as this kind of tale has to be, but the constant challenges keep things interesting.

As the days and then weeks wear on, we see the toll that survival takes. Their bodies blister and peel in the unforgiving sun, and deteriorate from malnutrition, and their conversations and interactions become less animated. It will be 34 days before their journey ends.

Conceptually, three men in a tiny raft would be a tough film to keep interesting and engaging, but Against The Sun never wears out its welcome. At 99 minutes, it’s long enough to provide a sense of heft to the 34 days you spend with the crew, but not so long as to drag or lose its steam.

Taking the film in cultural context, Against The Sun comes to home video just a month after the much higher profile Unbroken, another true World War II tale in which protagonist Louie Zamperini spends 47 days afloat on a raft before becoming a POW. I haven’t seen Unbroken and can’t make a comparison, but I do know that Against The Sun wasn’t budgeted $65 million or written by the Coen Brothers, or directed by Angelina Jolie. It lacks the sweeping grandeur that a larger film might have, but it’s honest, inspiring, and surprisingly entertaining.

The Package

To begin with, this is a DVD release, without a Blu-ray option, so adjust your expectations accordingly. As the screenshots demonstrate, the picture is full of artifacts, banding, etc. But it’s not so bad, the film isn’t particularly visual experience to begin with — just three guys at sea on a rubber raft. This film is much more about the performances and situational storytelling. The format limitations didn’t bother me (as they usually do), but viewers who prefer an HD experience also have the option of purchasing the film on VOD.

This is an attractive release, packed in an embossed metallic slipcover and including several short making-of videos that are a pleasant surprise on a smaller release like this.

The disc autoplays pre-menu trailers for God Help The Girl, Little Accidents, and Kumiko The Treasure Hunter.

The film is rated PG and is an easy recommendation for positive family viewing.

Special Features and Extras

The disc contains several short behind the scenes videos totaling about 17 minutes.

Against The Sun: Behind The Scenes (3:23)

A Plane Takes Flight (2:50)
 On historical accuracy and creating a believable, detailed plane.

Starving At Sea (2:10)
 On the special 500 calorie diet the actors used to achieve weight loss for the film.

Working On Water (3:01)
 On shooting on massive indoor tank sets.

F/X: On Set And Off (1:48)

Blisters, Burns, & Bites (1:45)
On makeup and prosthetics.

Dressing The Part (1:37)

A/V Out.

Get it at Amazon:
Against The Sun — [DVD] | [Instant]

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