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Event Horizon (1997)

Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/30/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/22/2008

Many elements, such as cast, director, writer, plot, go into making a movie, and we as consumers must decide when these elements combine to make a good film. For example, there have been plenty of movies with fantastic ensemble casts which were great disappointments. On the other hand, there are films which don't look very good on paper which turn out to be surprisingly enjoyable. Event Horizon is such a film, as it features a director with a dubious reputation and a script full of overly familiar elements. Yet, they somehow gel into an interesting movie.

Event Horizon is set in the year 2047. The rescue spaceship Lewis & Clark is assigned to respond to a rescue beacon coming from near Neptune. The crew of the Lewis & Clark, Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), Peters (Kathleen Quinlan), Stark (Joely Richardson), Cooper (Richard T. Jones), Justin (Jack Noseworthy), D.J. (Jason Isaacs), and Smith (Sean Pertwee), are accompanied on their mission by Dr. Weir (Sam Neill). The beacon is coming from a massive spaceship called Event Horizon, which was designed by Weir. The ship was designed to travel across vast distances by creating a hole in space. After disappearing without a trace seven years before, the ship has now suddenly reappeared. The Lewis & Clark docks with Event Horizon and the crew begin to investigate, finding no trace of the crew. As the group attempts to ascertain what happened to the crew of the experimental ship, several members begin to see horrific visions. As the time that Captain Miller and his crew can remain on-board draws short, it becomes apparent that a supernatural force is present on the Event Horizon.

In theory, Event Horizon shouldn't be a good movie. The story borrows so liberally from other sources that spotting these references can be very distracting. There are bits of Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010, The Shining, Solaris, and Hellraiser thrown into the film. (I hadnít seen the original Solaris when I first saw Event Horizon, but when I saw the Steven Soderbergh remake, I was floored by the similarities between that story and Event Horizon.) The film is essentially a haunted house story set in space. The crew of the Lewis & Clark find themselves trapped aboard an interstellar ghost ship and they must deal with the odd occurrences within. The other possible negative is the presence of director Paul Anderson. Now to be fair, at the time of Event Horizonís original release, Anderson was primarily known for his second film, the dumb but entertaining video game adaptation Mortal Kombat. However, Andersonís career took a turn for the worse with his 2002 film Resident Evil and 2004ís Alien Vs. Predator. Following the release of those two films, Anderson has become a favorite target of film fans and many scoff at his name. (And hereís a point that I canít drive home enough: Resident Evil, being based on the best video game ever, had the potential to be a fantastic movie and Anderson throw all of that away to make a steaming pile of crap.)

Yet, despite those black marks, Event Horizon is still an interesting and entertaining film. The film pulls a nice 180į on the audience, as it starts like a typical science-fiction film, offering us space, spaceships, scientific theories, etc. But, the movie then slowly turns into a horror/suspense movie as the science-fiction mumbo-jumbo begins to fall away and the audience realizes that they are in the midst of a supernatural horror movie. Some may be expecting an Alien-like experience, but the film doesn't go in that direction. (Although, apparently, the original script did.) Anderson makes nice use of the claustrophobic environments and creates an atmosphere which is both scary and unpredictable. When it comes to the horrific visuals, the movie doesn't pull many punches (or so it seems, more on that in the extras section). The movie is well-paced (again, something we learn more about in the extras) and the shocks come very quickly during the second half. The movie does suffer some ill-effects from the vague plot and the fact that several questions are left unanswered, but in a universe where anything is going to pale in comparison to Alien or Aliens, Event Horizon does a nice job of holding its own.

Event Horizon rockets onto
Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 3.6 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing basically no grain. However, there are some mild defects from the source material, such as black specks. The colors look good and the image, though dark, is never overly dark. The framing appears to be accurate and there is no artifacting to be had here. The image shows a nice amount of detail and the depth is quite nice during the shots down the huge ship's central corridor. The Disc contains a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.6 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a powerful track which delivers strong effects. The stereo effects are highly detailed and sound very good. The stereo separation is notable and the sound inside of the ship is effective. The surround sound effects are good, most notably the thunder and the spaceship's engines. These same effects are provide some nice subwoofer action.

This two-disc set is full of extras, but some may find them disappointing. We start with an audio commentary from director Paul Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt. This is a good commentary, as they share a great deal of info about the making of the film. As there are no locations to discuss, the pair spend their time talking about the actors, the sets, the specials effects, and the story. They also talk about the problems encountered while shooting the film and how Paramount made them cut the final product. The Disc features a 5-part epic called "The Making of Event Horizon". This 1 hour & 42 minute behemoth features comments from Anderson, Bolt, and actor Jason Isaacs, as well as some others. Here, we learn about the development of the script and the production design, most notable where the look of the Event Horizon came from. We then learn about the cast and the casting process. Makeup effects artist Bob Keen is interviewed and he discusses his work on the film, and we also get a look at the wire work in the film. Stuart McAra and Richard Yuricich talk about the visual effects in the film and we are treated to a view of the miniatures and models used in the movie. The most frustrating part of the extras comes when Anderson and Bolt begin discussing the scenes which were cut from the film, most notably the violent scenes. Anderson goes on and on about how many horrific and bloody scenes were cut, as 20 minutes was excised from the film, but we don't get to see any of it! There is only one deleted scene shown here, as Anderson states that the other footage was lost. You're kidding me! "Secrets" does offer 1 deleted scene and 2 extended scenes, but all are brief and only the third gives us mere seconds of extra blood. (With commentary by Anderson.) "The Unseen Event Horizon" offers conceptual artwork for an unfilmed scene along with other concept art, both of which are narrated by Anderson. "The Point of No Return" (8 minutes) offers behind-the-scenes footage of the film being shot with narration by Anderson. The Original Theatrical Trailer and the Video Trailer round out the extras. Clearly Anderson and Paramount put a great deal of work into these Special Features, but they shouldn't have kept discussing footage that we couldn't see.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long