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The year is 2047. Years earlier, the pioneering research vessel Event Horizon vanished without a trace. Now a signal from it has been detected, and the United States Aerospace Command responds. Hurtling toward the signal's source are a fearless captain (Laurence Fishburne), his elite crew and the lost ship's designer (Sam Neill). Their mission: find and salvage the state- of-the-art spacecraft. What they find is state-of-the-art interstellar terror. What they must salvage are their own lives, because someone or something is ready to ensnare them in a new dimension of unimaginable fear. Costarring Kathleen Quinlan.
For more about Event Horizon and the Event Horizon Blu-ray release, see Event Horizon Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 16, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones, Jack Noseworthy
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
» See full cast & crew
Event Horizon Blu-ray Review
Paramount's Blu-ray release of this fan favorite is a winner.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 16, 2008
Save yourself from hell.
If the fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all, then what better setting for a horror movie than the vast, unexplored, unknown quantity that is outer space? Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece Alien definitively showcased the amazing potential for the Sci-Fi/Horror in outer space combination genre, and plenty of imitators have followed, few of which are better than 1997's uneasy, disturbing, and fairly original Event Horizon. This no-holds barred horror show understands its genre well, never becoming too bogged down in any one contrivance. While the film is not without its flaws, the numerous positives outweigh some questionable dialogue and delivery, somewhat underwhelming visual effects, and a third act that becomes a bit too conventional and bland in light of the first hour's creepy, foreboding, and sometimes grotesque atmosphere. Nevertheless, Event Horizon is a tense, exhilarating watch, best experienced in the dead of night with the lights low and the volume high.
The Event Horizon, a deep space research vessel, vanished around Neptune in the year 2040. Seven years later, a rescue vessel, the Lewis and Clark, sets out on a top-secret mission to rescue the suddenly resurgent Horizon. Accompanying the crew of the Clark is the Horizon's designer, Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill, The Hunt for Red October). He informs the crew, including its Captain, Miller (Laurence Fishburne, The Matrix trilogy), that the Horizon was actually an experimental faster-than-light craft that defied the laws of physics by creating a dimensional gateway through folded space to almost instantly jump from one location to the next. When the crew boards the Horizon, they find the bloody remnants of its crew, and the members of the rescue party themselves begin to fall victim to what at first seems to be a series of horrific optical illusions that soon become all too real -- and deadly. The crew must cope with the horrors of the Horizon while attempting to repair a damaged Clark in hopes of escaping with their lives.
Event Horizon's primary asset is its genuinely creepy atmosphere and visuals. The set design is somewhat minimalist but effective; it combines great looking locations that are suitably scary when dressed and lit appropriately, but it also appears a bit crude yet functional as a long-distance, experimental space craft built in the none-too-distant future. Like the script calls for, the Horizon becomes a character all its own, a tribute to the effective writing, set design, and cinematography. The ship is home to a mixture of both subtle and hardcore horror and gore that often permeates background locations, notably on the Horizon's bridge, but rarely does the film offer in-your-face, gross-out style visuals that might make viewers sick to their stomachs and fail to engender any sort of emotional response. The film walks the fine line between excessive and insufficient gore perfectly. It is there in quantity, but it serves as a plot reinforcement to the psychological terror. Lesser films simply pour on the gore in hopes of obscuring a weaker plot and less intense themes. This film's well-developed plot stems from a tight script that translates to a fantastic pace. At just under 100 minutes, the film has time to develop its characters and story without overstaying its welcome.
The script creates a series of characters that are easily identifiable, and the actors perform their duties well enough. They understand their roles and the themes of the story, and are easy to empathize with during their agonizing plight aboard the Event Horizon. Despite its rather quick pace, the film unravels its secrets only in due time. There is a sense of urgency throughout the picture as the crew of the Clark unwraps the mystery surrounding the ship, each descending into madness in their own way through the experience. Though Event Horizon calls for a suspension of belief, its plot devices are never hurried or forced into the story or inadequately explained away. The crew deals with things far exceeding their understanding, and what they see and experience are genuinely creepy, both visually and psychologically; their past demons come back to haunt them, a theme reminiscent of the film Flatliners. These tensions slowly crescendo in a final act that is sufficient, but doesn't quite live up to the promise of the first two-thirds of the film. It is not sloppily executed or poorly scripted, it just falls more into convention than the rest of the film, with some predictable dialogue and events that only partially lessen the impact of the film.
Event Horizon Blu-ray, Video Quality
Event Horizon folds onto Blu-ray with a quality 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. Though this transfer doesn't necessarily jump off the screen with a barrage of realistic, deep, and clear imagery, there is nevertheless a solid level of visible detail, ranging from drops of water on Sam Neill's body after coming out of extended stasis to the caked-on grime seen on the various surfaces of the Clark and Horizon. The image exhibits some spots over the print that are noticeable but never overly distracting. Some of the dark, hazy, interior shots of the Horizon hold up very well, with no immediate visual anomalies. There are a few very minor instances of banding in a few places, but it is never obvious or much of a distraction. The film is rather dark in general, and blacks play an integral role in the look and feel of the film. They could be a bit deeper in some shots, but they hold up rather well throughout. Grain is present but never too heavy, and it is only most apparent over darker backgrounds. Flesh tones always look natural and rich under each lighting condition thrown at them, from the bright, fluorescent lights aboard the Clark early in the film to the deepest, darkest, poorly-lit innards of the Event Horizon. Paramount has delivered a solid transfer that will please this film's fan base.
Event Horizon Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Event Horizon enters the lossless dimension via a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. The soundstage feels a bit cramped and limited in range during the pulsating opening theme that plays over the credits. The track picks up during the film; the opening shot of the ship is accompanied by a hefty amount of bass, and various sounds pan around the listening area with ease. Inside the Clark, there is little in the way of ambience. The hum of the engine is heard, but there is never much of a sense of actually being on board. The Clark's bumpy arrival into Neptune orbit in chapter five features plenty of visual rattling and rolling, but the accompanying audio is only moderately aggressive. A series of explosions in chapter seven features a good amount of bass and fine surround presence, both of which support the visuals well. Dialogue sometimes sounds a bit tiny and muffled. A discussion amongst the crew as to the events of the film in chapter 10 seems to show a discernible loss in volume. Later in the chapter, bass pounds away at an appreciably high level. The soundtrack is generally hit-or-miss; the hits are great, and fortunately the misses are only near misses. The track is never a disaster, just a slight letdown in a few places.
Event Horizon Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Paramount has included a fair amount of bonus materials with this Blu-ray release of Event Horizon. Leading things off is a feature-length commentary track with director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt. Both begin by discussing how the film fits in with their favorite genres and those that influenced this picture. The track manages to maintain a nice pace despite a few gaps of dead air. They discuss the sets, actors, the design of the ships, the visual effects shots, small anecdotes, the themes of the film, character arcs, and more. The duo hits all the important notes, making for a track fans will enjoy a great deal. The Making of 'Event Horizon' (480p, 1:43:01) is a five-part documentary that is actually longer than the movie. This is a blunt, informed, and insightful piece that begins with Anderson and Bolt discussing the origins of the project, the influences on the story, and the focus and originality of the plot. The piece moves into discussions on the making of the film, including the casting of the roles and the actor's experiences on the film, the creation of the more disturbing sequences and the special effects-heavy shots, changes made from the original cut to the final cut, and plenty more. This is a fascinating journey that takes viewers into the filmmaking process. Paul W.S. Anderson comes off very well in the piece as a passionate and intelligent individual, particularly when discussing the changes made to the picture over the course of time. Here's hoping a more definitive cut of Event Horizon is one day released.
The Point of No Return: The Filming of 'Event Horizon' (480p, 8:12) is a four-part feature where Paul W.S. Anderson discusses the making of several scenes. Secrets (480p, 10:03) is a series of three deleted and extended scenes, each featuring director commentary. The Unseen 'Event Horizon' is broken into two segments. The Un-Filmed Rescue Scene (480p, 2:57) features a series of storyboard images for a scene not included in the final version of the film. Conceptual Art (480p, 3:52) looks at some early sketches made for the film. These features are again presented with director commentary. Concluding this impressive set of special features is the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:29) and the video trailer (480p, 1:48).
Event Horizon Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
All things considered, Event Horizon is a cut above many standard-fare Sci-Fi and Horror pictures. Despite a few non-fatal flaws, the film is both terrifying and entertaining, holds decent replay value, and most importantly, never becomes too mired in convention. The performances are solid, the direction, cinematography, and score all above average and effective, and the script, while not perfect, translates well to film. These elements make for a fine late-night horror experience that offers a winning combination of visual and psychological horror. Blu-ray fans looking to upgrade from an older home video release should be more than satisfied with Paramount's effort on this disc. It features a high quality transfer, a good but sometimes lacking lossless soundtrack, and a manageable array of bonus materials. The disc is priced just right for a well-done catalogue release, and Event Horizon will make a fine addition to most any Blu-ray collection. Recommended.
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