Event Horizon, Blu-ray (1997/2008)

by | Jan 1, 2009 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Event Horizon, Blu-ray (1997/2008)

Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan
Director: Paul Anderson
Studio: Paramount 14015 [Release date: Dec. 30, 08]
Video: Anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 color, 1080p HD
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French or Spanish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Extras: Commentary track by Paul Anderson & Producer Jeremy Bolt, “The Making of Event Horizon” – Five Documentaries, “The Point of No Return” – The Filming of Event Horizon, “Secrets” with Director’s optional commentary, “The Unseen Event Horizon” – Rescue Scene conceptual art, Theatrical Trailer in HD, Video trailer
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: ***(*)

Not a film for the kiddies, and probably also not for purist sci-fi fans to whom any elements of horror/slasher films are a complete turnoff. Event Horizon is not a Star Trek type of film, but more of a Hellraiser in space. In some of the extras Director Paul Anderson (who celebrated his 31st birthday on the set) talks about his fascination with Ridley Scott and the Alien franchise.  There is clearly some of that in Event Horizon – the moving down dark corridors in the spaceship to reveal some horror or other. There is also a plot line lifted from the Russian sci-fi epic Solaris – each crew member dogged by the appearances of persons they had been close to who had died tragically. And the point of the ship itself being a living sentient organism reminds one of the TV series FarSpace.

Capt. Miller (Fishburne) and his crew have been sent to rescue the crew of the ship Event Horizon, which had disappeared on its maiden voyage to the stars seven years previously. The ship was designed by Neill’s Dr. Weir and used an experimental device to fold space (a la Dune) and travel light years instantly by creating its own black hole.  The rescue crew soon discovers that none of the original crew are alive, and from the revelations of the increasingly unhinged scientist it becomes clear that the Event Horizon did pass thru the event horizon into another dimension – one that in laymen’s terms could be called Hell.

The crew has to battle not only the cursed ship and its horrors, but also the ship’s designer who is intent on returning with it to Hell.  If you can stomach the gore, the story works quite well.  The overall design and visuals are outstanding. The big ship looks like no other spaceship you have ever seen.  Anderson discusses in one of the extras about his entering images of Notre Dame cathedral in the computer program used to create the set design. He wanted a nebulous religious aspect to be strong in the surroundings to support the progress of the plot.  The story line is left somewhat open and you can interpret it as you wish.  It has more depth and density than the Alien series; any fan of Alien would probably love Event Horizon.

The transfer is excellent, with plenty of detail in the many darker areas.  Some of the violent action sequences seem to move almost too rapidly near the conclusion – I tried the “step” feature to slow them down. Anderson speaks about the test screenings and the studio requesting him afterwards to delete some of the gorier horror material;  I think they were correct. The soundtrack is strong on both music and sound effects and makes good use of the surrounds and subwoofer channel.  The thunderstorm in space is very impressive – never mind there’s no sound in space – sci-fi movies would be a lot quieter if that truism were followed!  Acting is at a high level – especially the two leads – and the many bonus features are worth watching.

 – John Sunier

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