Updated: Jan 9
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) of the Lewis & Clark discovers the Event Horizon’s gravity drive and finds the crew massacred.
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“EVENT HORIZON” 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION STEELBOOK
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 1997: R for strong violence and gore, profanity and some nudity; streaming via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: “The Making of Event Horizon,” four sets of extra features each with multiple subsets (17 in all)
BEWARE “The Womb of Fear” – a fitting sobriquet for the 1997 sci-fi/horror flick, “Event Horizon.” Twenty-five years ago, director Paul W.S. Anderson (“Resident Evil” franchise, “Alien vs. Predator”) and producer Lawrence Gordon decided to make a horror movie in space, a sort of haunted house in the vacuum, with an ever-evolving script by Phillip Eisner.
It’s a mind-blowing story starring Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan and Joely Richardson about the nightmare of messing with the space-time continuum. Nothing good will come of it.
The year is 2047 and the intrepid crew of the rescue ship Lewis & Clark are summoned to the orbit of Neptune. The experimental ship Event Horizon has reappeared after vanishing for seven years on its maiden voyage. Captain Miller (Fishburne) and his crew take the ship’s designer, Weir (Neill), along with them on a rescue/reconnaissance mission that goes to hell.
The Lewis & Clark heads toward Neptune
(1) The crew of the Lewis and Clark are sent to investigate the long-lost starship Event Horizon. (2) Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) designer of the Event Horizon has visions during his space sleep heading to Neptune. (3) Flashback scene as Peters (Kathleen Quinlan) helps Dr. Neir before they embark on the trip. (4&5) Dr. Weir and the crew are placed inside the stasis water tanks.
Event Horizon's Neptune is a stormy place, cloud-covered, with near-constant lightning and thunder. Miller, Weir and crew find what appears to be a massacre on board. Searching for survivors, technical disruptions force the L&C crew to take refuge in the derelict ship. In his commentary, Anderson says that, with the standard haunted house, you can just up and leave. Check into a hotel like at the end of "Poltergeist." In space, it's a bit more complicated.
There's nowhere to go.
Soon, they’re all experiencing horrific hallucinations. The ship’s log reveals gruesome footage about what happened to the first crew, ending with the captain, his eyes gouged out, pleading, “Save yourself from hell.”
In “The Womb of Fear” featurette, Anderson, Gordon, and Jason Isaac, who plays crew member D.J. and went to university with both of them, dish on cast members Fishburne, Neill, Richardson, Quinlan, Richard T. Jones, Jack Noseworthy, Sean Pertwee and Isaac himself.
I'm an utter sucker for this kind of thing. In the commentary and featurettes, it really comes across that Anderson and Gordon were a wee bit star-struck by Fishburne and Neill. Anderson tells a story of helping Fishburne get free of a pair of gravity boots that brought a chuckle.
Anderson's design for the haunted ship was based on a scan he did of Notre Dame Cathedral. Elements of the interior are reminiscent of the puzzle box from "Hellraiser." A lot of the plot revolves around the "gravity drive" that propelled Event Horizon, and it's a complicated bit of business – interlocking rotating bands around a studded spear.
Anderson fully expected it to go on the fritz, but the thing performed flawlessly – except parts would fall off and rattle about inside making a clanking sound that was eventually eliminated by the sound effects.
(1) After exiting the water tanks the crew meets after arriving in orbit around Neptune. (2&3) Dr. Neir, Capt. Miller and Smith (Sean Pertwee) spot the Event Horizon. (4) Capt. Miller enters the Horizon and communicates with his crew.
With few exceptions, the effects are practical involving the huge James Bond set at Shepperton studios and a "miniature" of the Event Horizon that had to be moved by fork-lift. The CGI is subtle and doesn't show up much on the big screen. One CGI effect is of a low orbit space station that took nearly a year to put together. This happens toward the beginning of the story and works quite well.
There is a final fight scene between Fishburne and Neill reminiscent of one of Anderson's other efforts, “Mortal Kombat,” and can take one out of the scene.
My sons were/are awfully fond of this and it held up quite well for me too. With all the extras, the Bu-Ray, the 4K Ultra HD disc AND a digitally downloadable copy, fans definitely get their money's worth.
There’s a commentary with Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt. It’s a carry-over like the other extras, but still entertaining and full of info. Anderson talks about technical issues and scenes he likes. He mentions scenes he wishes were kept or reworked. Fanboy Bolt enjoys the jump scares.
If you didn’t know – we learned the studio, Paramount, rushed filming and editing to get it in theaters quickly. The original 130-minute print was heavily edited to 96 minutes when the preview audience complained of excess gore and violence. While “Event Horizon” was not a critical or commercial hit, it sold well on DVD, establishing a cult following. Paramount asked Anderson to restore footage for a special/director’s edition. Sadly, that footage was lost and the extended cut version never happened.
“The Making of Event Horizon” hosted by Anderson and Gordon includes five featurettes: “Into the Jaws of Darkness,” “The Body of the Beast,” “Liberte Tuteme Ex Inferis,” “The Scales of Hell,” and the aforementioned “Womb of Fear.”
“The Point of No Return” has Anderson discussing behind-scenes footage and his directorial decisions. It includes “The Revolving Corridor,” “The Crew Gathers,” “Shooting Wire Work,” and “The Dark Inside.” Featurettes – hours longer than the film itself – cover pre-production, special effects and sets, test viewings, stunts, interviews, and the score by Orbital and Michael Kamen. “Secrets” is a fancy name for three deleted/extended scenes with commentary.
(1) Smith experiences the effects of the Event Horizon’s gravity drive. (2) Justin, (Jack Noseworthy), recovers after his experience with the gravity drive. (3) Justin is treated by D.J. (Jason Isaacs). (4&5) Peters’, son, Denny, (Barclay Wright) appears to her. She explains to D.J. and Lt Starck, (Joely Richardson), her vision.
A brand new 4K scan of the 35mm negative (2.39 aspect ratio) was created and graded with HDR10 and Dolby Vision boosting image detail, contrast, and color with a good dose of natural film grain. There’s some distortion, but it seems intentionally created. Cinematographer Adrian Biddle of “Aliens,” “The Princess Bride,” “Thelma & Louise,” “The Mummy,” and “V for Vendetta” (yes – all those!) captured the action. This is absolutely the best “Event Horizon” has ever looked.
The Blu-ray is at least 15 years old from a 2K master and still holds up pretty well on a smaller screen. There are no glaring problems in any format, with the interfaces between the practical and the CGI looking smooth.
Oddly, the film did not get an eight-channel Atmos upgrade; it still uses the lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, which is basically flawless. Sound does play an important part in the narrative, with dialogue clear throughout explosions, mechanical turmoil, and other effects. The bass is deep and solid throughout.
As said, my sons and I love this film; my sister is on the fence. Likes the cast and imagery, but gets lost in the plot. The disc set is a huge bargain for fans, if they can find it. "Event Horizon" 25th Anniversary Edition Steelbook sold out in the first week of release! Maybe there will be a second release for the holidays.
— Mike Reynolds
(1) Dr. Weir works on a short on the Event Horizon. (2) Justin is treated by the crew after his extravehicular excursion. (3&4) Dr. Weir has visions of his late wife, Clair, (Holley Chant). (5) Capt. Miller prepares to detonate Event Horizon. (6) Capt. Miller reaches out to Lt. Starck, (Joely Richardson off camera), after explosive decompression. (7) A transformed Dr. Weir. (8) D.J. meets his fate.