Prisoners of the Sun (2013)

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Released 18-Jun-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 84:13
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Roger Christian
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring John Rhys-Davies
David Charvet
Carmen Chaplin
Michael Higgs
Emily Holmes
Joss Ackland
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Maarten Buning


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Over five thousand years ago an alien race came from the stars to Egypt. They gave humankind knowledge of astronomy and architecture and were worshipped as gods. But on the day the planets were aligned, and the alien king was due to arrive on the Earth to take control, the Egyptian Pharaoh tricked the aliens and a princess of special blood was entombed beneath a pyramid, her tomb and the knowledge of the aliens protected by a “watcher” and a lock which could only be opened by the key of heaven. Now, after five thousand years, the planets will soon be aligned once again and the alien king may be brought to earth to bringing death and destruction upon humankind.

     That is the premise of Prisoners of the Sun as explained by a narration in the pre-credit sequence. In the following sequences we are introduced to a number of the people who are excavating to try to find the princess’s pyramid while also seeking the key of heaven. Leading the excavation is Professor Mandella (Joss Ackland) and his assistant Dr. Doug Adler (David Charvet) although the driving force is Professor Hayden Masterson (John Rhys-Davies), who knows to the minute when the planets will align and has a secret agenda. Masterson is being guided in part by Claire (Emily Holmes), who has the gift / curse of second sight, and is being blackmailed by Peter Levitz (Michael Higgs) who wants to join the team to enter the pyramid when it is found. When a massive sand storm uncovers the pyramid Masterson summons his daughter estranged Sarah (Carmen Chaplin) from London. Then the entrance of the pyramid is found; with the day of the alignment of the planets immanent, the team enter and in the dark labyrinth below the pyramid face lethal traps, the undead and the hidden agendas within their team to seek the tomb of the princess.

     Prisoners of the Sun is nothing original, lifting ideas from Stargate, The Mummy and Raiders of the Lost Ark for good measure. The film is directed by Roger Christian, who shared a Best Art Direction- Set Decoration Oscar in 1978 for the original Star Wars but who is probably better known for directing the John Travolta starring multiple Razzie Award winner Battlefield Earth (2000). Prisoners of the Sun is not as bad as that film but it is pretty silly.

     For a start Prisoners of the Sun is full of exposition, narration and dialogue. There is also no mystery about what is happening, or indeed what is about to happen; the plot is explained often and at length and the role of Masterson’s daughter Sarah is so obvious the reveal is no surprise. The film takes a long time to get going as the action does not start until the team enters the pyramid half way through the film. The acting is also indifferent with David Charvet lacking charisma and Carmen Chaplin very wooden, so that the love angle between them has no spark. All the rest of the cast are pretty much one-note, even John Rhys-Davies.

     On the other hand, the production design of the film is impressive and the Morocco locations are used to good effect. There is also a nice sense of humour that runs through the film; John Rhys-Davies’s reaction when they find the mummified body of the princess is priceless! I recently reviewed Christian’s film Stranded, which is a sort of haunted house in space and takes advantage of using only a few dark closed sets to create a tense, claustrophobic atmosphere and a number of scares. Once inside the pyramid Prisoners of the Sun tries to follow the same format with dimly lit corridors and confined spaces but the situations and traps, including the “watcher”, are not scary or original and the film fails to build up any tension as it moves towards the climax.

     Prisoners of the Sun is obvious and silly and you can pick what is going to happen 20 minutes before it does. However, the film has good production values and some humorous moments; I was at least not bored so if you place your mind in neutral and just go with the flow you can have some fun with Prisoners of the Sun.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Prisoners of the Sun is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1; I suspect that 1.85:1 is the original ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     The print is fine. It is sharp with natural colours in the Moroccan exteriors. In the second half of the film beneath the pyramid the blacks are solid and shadow detail very good so we see what we are intended to see. Skin tones are natural, brightness and contrasts consistent.

     I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps.

     Dialogue was generally clear, although on a number of occasions it was muffled when subtitles would have helped. The surrounds and rears were used for the storm, insects and music although I did expect that they may have been used more to increase tension while under the pyramid. The sub-woofer added bass to the music and storm and was quite effective in giving a deep rumble to the stone doors.

     The original music by Maarten Buning was orchestral and choral with an epic feel, thus suiting the film.

     There were no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Nothing. The menu offers only Play Movie and Scene Select.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US release of Prisoners of the Sun is bare bones like our release. There is no Region 2 UK release listed at present, only a Region 2 Norwegian and Region 3 Thai, neither with anything more than we have.

Summary

     Prisoners of the Sun is nothing original. It is silly and obvious but it looks good and is funny in places so there are worse ways to spend 84 minutes as long as your expectations are not high!

     The video and audio are fine; there are no extras, not even trailers for other films.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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