Base (Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth) jumping is one of the favorite activities of adrenaline junkies around the world. Even those that prefer to keep their feet on solid ground (including this critic) have to agree that there is something truly exhilarating about it even in wanting to stay on the ground. As popular as it is though, it is not popular with everybody. That is because ever since it was first started around 1978 by cinematographer Carl Boenish it has remained outlawed in many parts of America if not the world. That hasn’t stopped many BASE jumpers from doing what they love. Regardless of which side one takes in the discussion on BASE jumping or even if one is just an observer one can’t deny that that it is one of the most important “extreme sports” to ever be created. Now thanks to filmmaker Marah Strauch and independent studio Magnolia Pictures audiences can see for themselves just what makes BASE jumping such an important part of America’s culture to so many in the new documentary Sunshine Superman. The nearly two-hour documentary is a must see regardless of whether one is a BASE jumping enthusiast or one that prefers to keep his or her feet on the ground. The main reason for that is the history lesson presented at the heart of the documentary. The cinematography is undeniably incredible to say the very least. It is another reason that audiences will appreciate this presentation. Last but hardly least of note in Sunshine Superman is its pacing. While the documentary comes in at a little less than two hours there is still a lot of ground to be covered. Strauch and company cover every bit of it in a timely fashion, never once losing themselves or audiences along the way. Because they keep viewers engaged so well viewers will in turn potentially gain a new respect for BASE jumping and its history, again, regardless of which side they might or might not take on the subject. Regardless of which side one ends up taking (if either) audiences will, in the end, agree in watching this documentary that the documentary is one of the best of this year’s new documentaries.
Magnolia Pictures’ new documentary Sunshine Superman is one of 2015’s best new documentaries. It is not the first documentary to ever be released on the topic of Base Jumping. But it is arguably the best piece yet to be released on the subject. The main reason for this is the story that lies at the center of the documentary. It tells the story of BASE jumping’s roots and even more specifically the man that started it all, Carol Boenish. The whole thing is presented through first-person interviews with those closest to Boenish and those that had anything to do with him and his friends on either side of the BASE jumping divide. It is also told through actual archived footage of Boenish and company’s activities shot both by them and of them. It goes without saying that the first hand footage will send chills through audiences even today. That ties in to the next element of note in this documentary—its cinematography. That topic will be tackled shortly. Getting back on topic, audiences that might not be so familiar with the history of BASE jumping or with Boenish will be surprised to learn of how he and his friends got into the “sport” in the first place through this program. Just as intriguing to learn is the kind of person that Beonish was. One would think that considering the intensity of BASE jumping that Boenish and company would be equally over the top. Yet the reality proves to be the total opposite. They were just humble, ordinary people that just enjoyed feeling the “freedom” in taking those huge leaps of faith so to speak. The long-term impact of that humility and love for what Boenish and his friends did is incredible to learn about as the program progresses. It’s just one more way in which the central story behind Sunshine Superman proves to be such an important part of the documentary’s overall presentation. As important as it proves to be in the whole of the presentation, it is just one part of the documentary that is worth noting. The cinematography that is incorporated into Sunshine Superman is just as important to its overall presentation as its story.
The story at the center of Sunshine Superman is obviously the most important part of the documentary. Instead of just being another documentary about skydiving and BASE jumping, it actually gives audiences a first-hand look at the man that founded the BASE jumping movement and the effect of his joy has impacted the view of BASE jumping today. It isn’t just one of those run-of-the-mill third person perspective pieces either. Instead, audiences get to hear from the Boenish and those that were closest to him through interviews and archived footage of the famed figure. As important as the story is to the overall presentation of Sunshine Superman it is just one part of the documentary’s whole that makes it so engaging. Its cinematography is just as important as its story. The cinematography is so important because it actually comes from Boenish and his fellow BASE jumpers. Again, this goes back to the fact that this isn’t just some third-person narrative. Audiences actually get to see what Boenish and his friends saw in their jumps. From actually seeing the world literally fly by to seeing watching them test each location ahead of their jumps for safety audiences will be amazed at the time and care that went into each jump. They will be just as blown away by the jumps themselves; so much so that the footage will send chills through audiences even as they sit watching each jump. That impressive mass of original footage works with Sunshine Superman’s story to make a presentation that will no doubt keep audiences engaged and enthralled from beginning to end. Even as much of an impact as this combination has in the overall presentation of Sunshine Superman, that impact is not complete without noting the documentary’s pacing. Its pacing rounds out the documentary’s presentation and makes it in whole a piece that is in the end, one of the best of this year’s crop of new documentaries.
The story at the center of Sunshine Superman and the documentary’s cinematography are both key elements that make this presentation one of 2015’s best new documentaries. While both elements are equally important to the whole of the program they are not the only important factors to note here. The program’s pacing is just as important to the whole of Sunshine Superman as its story and its cinematography. There is a lot of ground to cover in this story considering that it is about not just Carl Boenish but the legacy that he left behind, too. So that means that ample time had to be given to every element of his story. And thankfully those behind the lens (and the computer screens) gave just enough time to each part of the story without moving too fast along the way. The end result of those efforts is that audiences are easily able to follow the story of how Boenish and company were essentially forced to do what they did thanks to ongoing issues with those in positions in power. Those individuals had an unjustified belief that there was something wrong (and apparently still is in some people’s minds) with BASE jumping. From doing something illegal to finally being allowed to do what they loved to being criminals in the eyes of the law again and so forth, the back and forth was largely to blame for the BASE jumpers taking extreme measures. Even one of those in power admitted to having pull the proverbial trigger too quickly on Boenish and his fellow enthusiasts. The ups and downs are balanced expertly throughout along with Boenish’s own personal story never leaving viewers feeling that they need a program to keep up with the overall story. Thanks to this, viewers will in turn see for themselves just how outstanding the documentary’s cinematography proves to be and how impressive the story behind this documentary is, too. All things considered, Sunshine Superman may not be the first documentary produced that is centered on BASE jumping. It is though, the best of its kind to date and also one of the best new documentaries of 2015.
Magnolia Pictures’ new documentary film Sunshine Superman is a piece that shines brightly among this year’s crop of documentaries. It is hardly the first documentary ever produced that has been centered on BASE jumping. Even with that in mind, it is still the best of its kind. That is largely thanks to its story. Its story is not one of those run-of-the-mill third person pieces that utilizes this expert and that to tell its story. Rather it shares the story of the man who started BASE jumping and the legacy that he left behind. It is told through the words of those closest to him, including his own wife (now widow) and even one of the men that both worked with and against him among so many others. It also utilizes Boenish’s home movies to tell his story. The archived footage of Boenish and company making their jumps makes the feature’s cinematography top-notch. The pacing of the program in whole will keep viewers enthralled from beginning to end. This includes not just those that are BASE jumpers (and enthusiasts) but those that prefer to keep their feet on solid ground, too. Each noted element makes Sunshine Superman a shining new documentary. Collectively, all three elements show not only what makes Sunshine Superman a shining new documentary but one of the brightest of this year’s field of new documentary offerings. It is currently available on digital download via Magnolia Pictures’ official website at http://www.magpictures.com/profile.aspx?id=4841ab73-b6b2-4df1-9cd3-c9643bba335f and will be available on DVD and Blu-ray early in 2016. More information on this and other titles from Magnolia Films is available online now at:
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