- Jun 13, 2002
Event Horizon: Special Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)
Studio: Paramount Home Video
Rated: R (Strong violence and gore, language and some nudity)
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG4-AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; French 5.1, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English; Spanish; French; Portuguese; English SDH
Time: 95 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL Blu-ray
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date:1997
DVD Release Date: December 30, 2008
In the year 2047, a rescue mission is sent out to find a missing space vessel. The Event Horizon was launched approximately seven years earlier as a means to explore deep space. On its maiden voyage, the ship disappeared near Neptune, never to be heard from again. Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and his crew (including Joely Richardson and Kathleen Quinlan) of the rescue ship Lewis and Clark are escorting Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) on a top-secret mission. Once the crew revives itself from cocoon-like stasis after the 56 day long trip, Weir tells the crew the true nature of the mission: the Event Horizon is still out near Neptune and there were messages transmitted back to Earth. Weir and the crew of the Clark are to find any survivors and try to salvage the Event Horizon if possible. He also confesses he is the creator of the Event Horizon, and it is a ship that has the ability to “fold space” by creating black holes for quicker space travel. Instead of taking 100 years to travel in space, with the Event Horizon, it could be done in a day.
Once the Clark finds the Event Horizon, things start to go a little crazy, literally. Weir and the Clark’s crew begin to hallucinate about unresolved guilt in their lives, and these “ghosts” apparently manifest themselves into reality. After some issues with the resurrection of the Event Horizon, the Clark finds itself leaking atmosphere into space, so the crew must repair it while looking for clues as to what happened on the Event Horizon. The hallucinations increase along with the terror level, and only a scratchy, cryptic ship’s log provides any clue as to what happened on the Event Horizon. The madness deepens, the terror and the action increase, and we are taken to an explosive finale that questions the psychological, metaphysical and theological nature of science. The movie leaves us with the question if we can go too far, are we ready for what we’ll find.
Event Horizon has taken on a bit of a cult status over the intervening years since its 1997 release, and having never seen it before the SD-DVD release from a year or so ago, I was looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about. Every time I see a science fiction picture these days I find myself frustrated at the end of it. My first frustration is that no one allows sci-fi pictures to just be sci-fi pictures: they must be another type of picture as well, usually either a thriller or a horror. Event Horizon is a clear example of this, since it would not be difficult to take the basic plot of the picture and transport it to a creaky old house in the middle of nowhere. My second frustration is that there isn’t enough sci-fi pictures at all, mostly do to budgetary costs, I would assume. I long for the day when we can get back to the pure adventure aspects of the genre with exploration of exotic locales, some good space battles, and some exotic aliens. While your Star Wars movies satisfy this aspect of the genre they are usually labeled space opera. I believe there is a hard sci-fi script just sitting out there that will one day give me what I want. Serenity may have been the last great hope for the genre, and sadly, that story has ended.
But I digress. Event Horizon is a hodgepodge of numerous sci-fi pictures of the past. I could pick out elements of Alien, Star Wars, Star Trek, Dune, 2001, 2010, Solaris, and it jump genres and pays homage to The Haunting and The Shining (which Anderson cites in his commentary). However, Event Horizon does a good job of standing on its own to provide some good thrills. The techno-babble stays to a minimum and the action remains consistent enough to keep such troublesome things as plot in the back of the viewers mind. The stunts and effects are standard in this day and age and most of the action takes place in the cramped and claustrophobic confines of the Event Horizon. The actors turn in passable performances, and nothing really distinguishes the crew from one another except for their race or sex. Fishburne shows a little bit more in his no nonsense intensity, and Neill does the same displaying his increasing madness.
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.
The 1080p transfer is in the MPEG4-AVC codec and it is correctly framed at 2.35:1. In my original review of this title for the SD DVD release, I noted that I was excited about an HD release, so I was glad when Paramount finally did this BD. As with the SD DVD, the picture it exhibits excellent color fidelity with its balanced and wide ranging colors. Colors are often muted in some scenes to enhance the creepiness of the setting, but then they jump to life in the flashback sequences or when the technology takes center stage. Flesh tones are accurately reproduced as well. Black levels are very deep (the star fields are amazing), and, like the SD release, I noticed some video noise in the darker scenes. At a normal viewing distance of thirteen feet away from my 92” screen, the video noise was barely noticeable. As you move closer it became more apparent, so I caution those of you who sit closer that 1.3 times screen width away you may find this distracting. The edge enhancement is still present and noticeable, but it is not distracting.
In the original SD review I wrote, “The picture shows very good detail in most of the scenes, but I did notice some smudging and blurring in the faster sequences” and, “One anomaly I noticed: there are a few scenes (such as when Miller tells D.J. about his friend who had died in Chapter 12 and in the beginning of Chapter 13) where the grates on the floor seem to jump and shimmer. In the past when I have seen problems with this it’s usually do to noise reduction processing, so that may be the case here as well. It may also be some very specific stage lighting whose source is just not apparent. Either way, it was noticeable and bears mentioning in the video evaluation.” Both of these issues were non-existent on this BD release. While this is not a new master, the increased resolution seemed to help those problems and contribute to more and sharper detail. With the increase in resolution I also noticed more print dirt than I did on the SD release, but again, it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the picture.
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI.
I watched the Blu-ray with the Dolby TrueHD track engaged. Much like the DTS track in the SD DVD, this TrueHD 5.1 track provided an excellent audio experience with room shaking LFE’s. I suggest everyone be careful in the opening minutes of the disc as the subs get a tremendous workout, and there are several sound explosions that jolt the viewer out of their seats. The opening ten minutes or so of the film provide such a forceful LFE track that both of my speaker setups tended to exhibit distortion. The surround channels are frequently engaged and provide excellent ambient and panning effects. To me, some of the best surround effects are barely noticeable and they should help to encase the viewer in the surround field. Voices are primarily planted in the center channel, and they are natural sounding and clear. Michael Kamen’s score is also very enjoyable and it provides an excellent enhancement to the thrills. The TrueHD track has much better presence and slightly better dynamic range. The SD-DVD’s DTS track is not on the BD.
What an exceptional set of extras! I was not prepared for this in-depth analysis of this picture. All of the extras are in SD unless otherwise noted, and all of the SD DVD’s extras are on the BD.
Feature Length Commentary by Director Paul W.S. Anderson and Producer Jeremy Bolt: this is a pretty good commentary that reiterates a lot of what is heard in the documentaries.
The Making of Event Horizon – 5 Documentaries: Into the Jaws of Darkness (genesis of the picture), The Body of the Beast (characters and actors), Liberate Tutume Ex Infernis (effects, costumes and sets), The Scale to Hell (model making, storyboards, visual effects, stunts), The Womb of Fear (post production, editing, details on the deleted scenes, test screenings, the music): This 103 minute documentary is split into five parts which you can watch all together or individually. Anderson, Bolt and numerous cast and crewmembers comment on the production of the picture. This is an incredibly in-depth documentary for what was such a minor release, initially. Each of the individual docs goes into significant detail with behind the scenes video and pictures. The cast and crew are very accommodating and excited when sharing their memories.
Secrets - Deleted Scenes: Briefing Scene, and Extended Scenes: Medical Bay and Burning Man Confrontation (9:31): Unfinished scenes, some of which had not been seen before. They are all anamorphic, but again, they are incomplete. Some are in video only as that is how they were shot. Each of the three scenes contains commentaries with Anderson. They really add very little to the overall picture.
The Unseen Event Horizon: The Un-Filmed Rescue Scene (2:52): Anderson narrates a storyboarded sequence that was dropped from the final film. This scene is referred to as “The Lucky Strike” scene where the Clark’s crew was going on a detour to rescue another ship. Most of the elements of this scene were incorporated into the final picture, but in relation to the main story. Also in this part is Conceptual Art (3:20), which includes conceptual and pre-production line art and CG art. Anderson comments as well.
The Point of No Return (8:03): more in-depth behind the scene analysis of the picture. There are separate chapters: “The Revolving Corridor” (the fireball sequence in the revolving corridor), “The Crew Gathers” (behind the scenes of the cast rehearsing a scene), “Shooting Wire Work”, “The Dark Inside” (a little bit of a cut scene that Anderson was unable to find completed as well as his 31st birthday).
Trailers: Original theatrical trailer (in HD) and video trailer.
Paramount and the director have gone to great lengths to give us an exceptional disc. We are provided with hours of bonus materials, a dynamite video transfer, and a Dolby TrueHD track that will shake the walls. I’m hesitant to recommend an upgrade from the SD disc as it was quite good, but for those of you who may want a slightly more detailed and sharp picture, the BD delivers. While the story itself doesn’t leave you with a lot to think about, this is a great popcorn flick for a Saturday night.