Note: In the following joint Blu-ray review both John and Eddie provide their opinions of the film, with John also writing up the Video, Audio, Extras, and Parting Shots.
The Film According to John:
Paul Anderson directed "Event Horizon." If you're having trouble keeping your Paul Andersons straight, join the club. This is the Paul Anderson who directed "Mortal Kombat," "Soldier," "Resident Evil," "Alien vs. Predator," and "Death Race." The other Paul Anderson is Paul Thomas Anderson, the guy who directed "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia," "Punch-Drunk Love," and "There Will Be Blood." You can tell by their film credits where each of them stands. In 1999 the Paul Anderson of "Event Horizon" added the initials W.S. to the middle of his name to differentiate himself from the other fellow, and now audiences confuse the both of them with Wes Anderson.
"Event Horizon" is a 1997 sci-fi horror thriller that starts out promisingly and then gets sucked up into a kind of cinematic black hole, which is also, not coincidentally, the subject of the picture. An "event horizon" in science is the boundary around a singularity, a black hole, from which no matter or radiation can escape. In the movie, there is a spaceship called the "Event Horizon," which mysteriously vanished seven years earlier while ostensibly investigating the outer reaches of the solar system. Now, in the year 2047, the U.S. Aerospace Command receives signals from space indicating the craft may have returned, which prompts them to send out another ship to rescue it. What they find turns into "Friday the 13th."
One could forgive a person for thinking the movie was pretty good if the person had only seen the movie's first half. Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, and Kathleen Quinlan star, and they're all fine actors who give it their best shot. They appear to have had the idea they were remaking "2001," and they take the whole affair with great seriousness. What's more, Paramount seem to have spent a ton of money on the film, with most of the sets and special effects looking quite impressive. So, what went wrong?
Well, after the first fifteen minutes just about everything went wrong. The movie starts out well enough. The search-and-rescue craft U.S.A.C. Lewis and Clark arrives in orbit around Neptune and finds the Event Horizon. The rescue team enter the ship, and their initial exploration produces some genuine tension and suspense. After that, the screenwriter, Philip Eisner, seems to have run out of fresh ideas and resorts to standard blood-and-guts.
Let's start with the basics. The rescue team, for example, consists of the usual stereotypes: The Captain (Laurence Fishburne) is wise, stalwart, brave, and heroic. The designer of the Event Horizon, Dr. Weir (Sam Neill), is, as his name suggests, weird. He considers the ship his baby, and he won't let anything happen to it, no matter what. The team's First Mate (Joely Richardson) is sexy and sweet. The Medical Technician (Kathleen Quinlan) is sincere and direct. The Rescue Technician (Richard T. Jones) is cocky and wisecracking. The Engineering Technician (Jack Noseworthy) is young and naive. The Trauma Technician (Jason Isaacs) is tough and direct. And the Pilot (Sean Pertwee) is hard and quarrelsome. The script leaves no cliché untouched, having the crew do exactly what you expect them do in every instance, which is mainly to act stupidly and get themselves killed.
It turns out, Weir tells us early on, that the Event Horizon wasn't just exploring the solar system after all. In fact, it was a revolutionary new top-secret craft that could compress distances through space, its gravitational drive able to create artificial singularities--tiny black holes--allowing the spaceship to fold space in on itself and travel anywhere in the universe in moments. Apparently, the ship's been to hell and back, literally.
Now, someone or something is on the ship, and it doesn't want the rescue team around bothering him (or it, or whatever). Maybe the entity should have shown the rescue team this film. That would have cleared out everybody fast. Instead, we get a series of almost incomprehensible incidents, most of them without rhyme or reason, and none of them ever explained. I suspect they're left unexplained because the screenwriter didn't have the faintest idea about them, either.
Anyway, after the rescue team's initial exploration, we get an endless amount of "Alien" type creeping around in the labyrinthine spaceship, with folks dying in various gruesome ways. Worse, nothing makes any sense. Our first clue: The rescue team brings a recording with them of the Event Horizon's old crew uttering their last words. Nobody on Earth could understand what they were saying, but upon listening to the recording for the first time, one of the rescue crew immediately says, "It's Latin." Right. Not a person on Earth, using 2047 computers, could figure this out, but a guy on the rescue team hears it once and instantly deciphers it.
Or how about this: After the rescue team has discovered that the whole crew of the Event Horizon have died horrible deaths, with blood splattered all over the walls, Dr. Weir invites them to view the gravitational drive, saying "It's perfectly safe." Famous, and unintentionally funny, last words.
I kept rolling my eyes and sometimes laughing out loud during the final forty-five minutes of "Event Horizon," something I'm sure the filmmakers didn't intend, either. The movie is bloody, nonsensical, and largely unmoving, meaning we don't care enough about the characters to worry about what happens to them. Fortunately, the thing lasts only ninety-five minutes, so neither the crew nor we have to suffer long.
The picture gets an R rating for brief nudity and oceans of blood. From me it gets a D for Disappointing.
John's film rating: 4/10
The Film According to Eddie:
Paul W.S. Anderson used to be known simply as Paul Anderson. However, Paul Thomas Anderson, the director of "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia," and "Punch-Drunk Love," became (in)famous around the same time as Paul Anderson did. Therefore, Paul Anderson added the W.S. to his name to distinguish himself from the other guy. Both Paul Andersons make bad movies. P.T.A. creates pretentious dreck. P.W.S.A. makes dreck, period.
Before there was Uwe Boll, there was Paul W.S.Anderson. "Mortal Kombat," "Resident Evil," and "AVP" were all based on video games. P.W.S.A. wrote and produced "Resident Evil: Apocalypse," which was also based on video games. "Soldier" is basically a video game in and of itself. I actually have nothing against basing movies on video games. The problem is that movies that are video game adaptations tend to be bad, which gives the genre a bad reputation. Before 2000's "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within," P.W.S.A. made the best movie based on a video game--"Mortal Kombat," which had a decent story and well-shot fights.
The other significant entry in P.W.S.A.'s oeuvre is "Event Horizon," which is basically his "art-house" movie. Using a simple story, the film is basically a series of vignettes with characters experiencing terror, melancholy, anxiety, and frustration before dying. Unfortunately, despite the fact that P.W.S.A. seems to be well-versed in the history of disturbing imagery, there's little that is artful in his movie.
In "Event Horizon", a space crew is sent to retrieve the Event Horizon, a huge deep-space vessel that was missing for seven years. The Event Horizon literally opened a portal to Hell and was there for seven years. Now that the Event Horizon is back in our reality, Hell has come to our universe. Apparently, Hell is filled with burning people, people wrapped in wires, and people covered in blood and maggots.
Usually, in horror movies, dumb people split up and get killed off one by one. "Event Horizon" offers a twist. The characters are rational military and scientific types. Therefore, they split up because they're smart. This doesn't change things much, though--everyone still sees bloody, gruesome sights, and everyone still dies bloody, gruesome deaths.
"Event Horizon" is little more than an exercise in style and gore. The dialogue is comprised of characters stating the obvious and yelling profanity at each other. There's also an inappropriate crowd-pleasing moment. One of the characters is blown into space by an explosion. In order to get back to the Event Horizon, he blows his air tanks and screams, "Here I come, motherfuckers!" I'm sure that this elicits cheers, laughs, and applause from viewers. Unfortunately, when you purge your oxygen in space, you basically commit suicide. Therefore, people are cheering, laughing at, and applauding suicide when they enjoy this crowd-pleasing gesture.
"Event Horizon" is nothing more than a splatter fest. On the other hand, it's not a wipeout like "Soldier," "Resident Evil," and "AVP: Alien Vs. Predator." I guess when you start your career with "Mortal Kombat," you have nowhere to go but downhill.
Eddie's film rating: 4/10
Paramount transferred the movie to a dual-layer BD50 Blu-ray disc using an MPEG-4/AVC codec, and the results are as good as we could hope for. The picture looks beautifully detailed, sharp, and precise. Although the movie is dark in the manner of an "Alien" film, there are reasonably good colors throughout. Hues are bright and rich, without being overbearing, and skin tones are particularly natural. Black levels are decent if not inky, and a light film grain provides more texture than some viewers may like.
For English, we get the choice of either regular, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 or lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio tracks. The TrueHD is considerably the smoother of the two, but it also tends to make spoken lines a bit too soft and rounded. When bass thunders and one feels the dynamic impact, it can also obscure some of the dialogue. The transient response is quick, the clarity of aural effects is outstanding, and the surround activity, while somewhat limited, sounds impressive.
This high-definition Blu-ray disc contains everything that Paramount previously included in their standard-definition two-disc DVD set. Things begin with the mandatory audio commentary, this one by director Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt. They're amiable enough and reveal a good deal of detail about the filmmaking, but they also tend to praise the film overmuch so it's kind of a self-serving affair.
Next, there's "The Making of Event Horizon," five making-of featurettes in standard def that total about 103 minutes. The titles of each section are pretty self-explanatory if you've already watched the movie, and they contain a remarkable amount of talk: "Into the Jaws of Darkness," "The Body of the Beast," "Liberate Tutume Ex Infernis," "The Scale to Hell," and "The Womb of Fear." After those items are four more featurettes, again in standard def, collected under the umbrella title "The Point of No Return: The Filming of Event Horizon." They total about eight minutes and include "The Revolving Corridor," "The Crew Gathers," "Shooting Wire Work," and "The Dark Inside." After that we find three deleted or expanded scenes with optional director commentary, followed by "The Unseen Event Horizon," which includes storyboards and conceptual art, again with director commentary.
The extras finish up with a full-screen video trailer in standard def; a widescreen theatrical trailer in high def; seventeen scene selections, with bookmarks; pop-up menus; English, French, and Spanish spoken languages; English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles; and English captions for the hearing impaired.
It's really disheartening to see how quickly this movie degenerates from an intriguing premise into an absurd, blood-splashed gore-a-thon. It's even more disheartening to see three fine actors like Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, and Kathleen Quinlan participate in it. I guess either the money was right or they didn't read the second half of the script. "Event Horizon" at least looks good, especially in high def, but that can't make up for its being too silly for this reviewer to hurry back for any repeat viewings.