Event Horizon: 2 Disc Collectors Edition DVD Review
PictureAlthough ostensibly the same transfer as the original R2 release - which was anamorphic unlike its R1 counterpart - this new version has had a slight makeover in that it now seems to feature much deeper blacks. The image before was, in my opinion, very good indeed and this one features the same great clarity and colour. Coming in with a 2.35:1 anamorphic picture, Event Horizon boasts a marvellous level of detail and contrast, skin tones that are spot-on and realistic - check out the pock-marks that stipple Fishburne's face - and a tremendous sense of depth to the image that makes the whole thing a joy to watch. Every inch of the incredibly detailed spacecraft is sharp and clear, with only a few instances when background clarity is sacrificed in favour of some front and centre pyrotechnics.
The full spectrum is utilised and is never subject to smearing or over-saturation. Sam Neill resting up in the Matrix-green electrical duct is scintillatingly rendered. In fact, there is a lot of green on show in this film. Blood is rich and deep and flames and explosions are suitably vivid and crisp. And speaking of crisp, that burning man looks gloriously barbequed with little wisps of CG flame licking deliciously around his charred flesh. The blacks, as I've mentioned, are now thicker and deeper, lending infinitely more depth and atmosphere to the space scenes and the creepy dark corners of the Event Horizon. Bright lights, such as the glowing Gravity Drive and torch-beams picking through the shadows have excellent delineation and placement, with no evidence of glaring.
On the digital front, the transfer comes up trumps, as well. There's no edge enhancement to speak of - well, none that caught my eye, anyway. Pixellation is none-existent and even the deepest, darkest corners of the image have no trace of blocking. Artefacting doesn't mar the image, either. Original print damage does, however, appear a couple of times ... but this is just of the tiny white dot variety and does not detract one iota from what is essentially a very smart transfer, indeed.
SoundWe have some great mixes on offer here, folks. The DD 5.1 is a terrific, well-steered and dynamic track in its own right, fully immersive and exciting - but it is trounced by a DTS mix that takes bass levels to a spectacular new depth of room-shaking power, and a fully-enveloping sound-design that literally floods the lounge with precision acoustics. The pounding opening theme sets the scene with a techno-thumping adrenal-kickstart, and the aural sensation doesn't quit from then on in. The rumbling fly-bys of the various spacecraft are absolutely bone-shaking. I could feel the sofa moving across the floor. Well, that's actually a big fat lie ... but you get the picture. The directionality of the design is impeccable, with plenty of stuff whistling past your ears, or emanating slyly from any, or all, speakers and lots of atmospheric bangs, thuds, voices and effects moving convincingly around the soundscape. There are some truly heart-stopping musical stingers employed by the film - flick between the DD 5.1 and DTS to find out who the clear winner is for volume, clarity and sheer strength.
Some things to listen out - or, perhaps, prepare yourself - for, are when the Gravity Drive belches in Chapter 7, sending out a massive wave of sound from front to back, that is filled with other noises as it sweeps over you, and the solid metallic thumping in Chapter 10 that clangs out from the front stage and then sends a cool echo through the rears. It really is highly involving stuff. And, for this acoustic aggression, the nuances of dialogue, button-pushing and quieter interludes are just as marvellously presented.
My advice is to pick your opportunity - preferably when you know your neighbours are out - and crank up the volume. The film, itself, may still disappoint, but the soundtrack will work wonders. Excellent.
ExtrasDisc One features a Commentary from Paul Anderson and Producer Jeremy Bolt that is informative and detailed, yet lacking in spontaneity and wit. There are a few pauses and the whole thing feels dry and stale. These guys love the movie, of that there can be no doubt, but the chat-track doesn't really engage, becoming a little tedious, drawn-out and technical. Only partial mention goes to the mythical extended version of the film ... but do not despair, this critical element is addressed fully later on in the documentaries.
Disc One also features trailers for Aeon Flux, The Warriors, Get Rich Quick Or Die Trying and one of the seemingly ubiquitous MacGyver previews.
Disc Two carries the good stuff. And, boy, is there some substance to the special features. For a film that split audiences down the middle - and continues to do so to this day - Paramount has literally pulled out all the stops to provide some really comprehensive, intelligently presented and wonderfully entertaining features and documentaries. Say what you want about Paul Anderson's movies, but his approach to special edition DVDs is one of warts 'n' all generosity. We may not have received the full, super-gory extended edition he promised us so many times in the past, but the wealth of goodies he has bestowed this release really does go a long way to make amends.
The Making Of Event Horizon is a lengthy documentary that has been broken down in five handy featurettes going under the descriptive banners of Into The Jaws Of Darkness, The Body Of The Beast, Liberate Tutume Ex Infernis, The Scale To Hell and The Womb Of Fear. With a Play All option that sees the full set coming in at 105 mins, you can be assured that this is going to be in-depth and revealing. With the participation of Anderson, Bolt, star Jason Isaacs (D.J.), production designer Joseph Bennett, makeup supervisor Bob Keen, effects producer Pauline Fowler (why does that name ring a bell?) and the brothers from Orbital, we are taken on a very comprehensive journey through the making of the film, its innovative design and effects work, the casting and the screenplay evolutions, the frantic post-production work and then its eventual release, legacy and almost cult status. Anderson and Bolt are very candid and honest about the trials and tribulations, but they do find a lot of time for anecdotes and backslapping. It often seems that they just couldn't believe their luck getting such a gig from Paramount, landing such a revered cast and crew and even getting to plagiarise their favourite genre movies. Although their love for the film may be slightly unwarranted (in many peoples' minds, at any rate), they are matter-of-fact and detailed, supplying a marvellously exhaustive chronicle of what went into the production. DOP Adrian Biddle is suitably lauded for the ease with which he pulled off some of those amazing shots, the cast are all showered with praise and Isaacs confesses that he actually pleaded to be given the full life-cast of his flayed body to take home. Bob Keen - the Bob Hoskins of the special makeup fx world - delivers extensive and interesting pieces on the gore, particularly the Weir-beast, the shattering body and the Isaacs' disembowelling. We even get to see some footage of prosthetic tests of Neill in full-body makeup and frozen-corpse drops. I love this stuff and wish that it could go on for longer.
Some of the endless praise for everybody can get a little tedious, and you kind of wish that a few more members of the cast had returned to have their say. Isaacs does a fine job on his own and is very self-effacing and amusing. He and the giggly Pauline Fowler appear to have the most fun reminiscing about the film, whilst Anderson and Bolt, despite their love of the movie, can sometimes seem a little pained by the experience. In some of the interview footage of eminent Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Yuricich, the burnt-man's legs can be seen dangling quite unsettlingly in the background. There is also a great section detailing the lost footage - yes, the gory stuff that we all hoped would be reinstated. Apparently, in the aftermath of the film's re-edit and release, much of this has been literally lost. Some of it actually turned up in Transylvania, of all places. But, finally, we are given the chance to see some of what has been located. Andrew Kevin Walker had a neat, but grim, scene scissored-away that reveals a nasty zero-g discovery made by Captain Miller that we are permitted to see in rough form. And there is much tantalising talk about the extreme nature of the original Hell sequences that were, inevitably, trimmed right back. However, we can see some very violent and explicit rough cuts from what had initially been shot by Anderson's friend and fellow filmmaker, Vadim Jean, who directed these scenes. Yep, they're gruesome. In fact, it does sound that the fabled “hard” version would really have, indeed, been something to behold. It's also nice to see Orbital getting the chance to talk about their involvement, as well.
Secrets is a little selection of Deleted Scenes. The first, entitled Deleted Briefing Scene (2.47 mins) is a good one that shows Dr. Weir pleading his case to the authorities to be allowed to go with the rescue mission. It's uncompleted and we can see the bare green-screen in the background, and there is some screen-wiper damage, but it is a nice little scene. Cut for pacing reasons, Anderson gives an optional commentary over it, too.
Extended Medical Bay Scene (0.55 mins) is just a tiny bit more footage of Miller discovering D.J.'s disembowelled corpse. This adds a little more gore and has a fixed commentary from Anderson.
Extended Burning Man Confrontation (6.20 mins) also features a fixed commentary from Anderson and exhibits much damage, but features a nice little Exorcist-style spider-walk from the Weir-beast and much more violence as the original finale goes fiery. Interesting to see and certainly lends more credence to the harder cut of the film.
The Unseen Event Horizon showcases the un-filmed Rescue Scene (2.56 mins) in a collection of storyboards that depict an early action sequence that would have introduced the crew of the Lewis And Clark in a more generic Hollywood fashion. The later-rescue of Mr. Justin in zero-g harks back to this set-piece attempt to retrieve a stricken space-miner. Anderson provides a commentary.
Conceptual Art (3.51 mins) is a series of pre-production paintings, CG renderings and early design ideas for the film. Anderson, again, talks us through this set of gory images, intricate spacecraft designs and character illustrations.
The Point Of No Return is a selection of behind-the-scenes and between-takes footage. With a Play All option that sees the set running for 8.12 mins, we have under the titles The Revolving Door, The Crew Gathers, Shooting Wire Work and The Dark Inside, footage of Fishburne being chased by a pretend fireball, some cast natterings and rehearsals, some zero-g antics and a strange little chunk of B-roll depicting Anderson's on-set 31st birthday celebrations.
To round off this impressive set of features we get the Original Theatrical Trailer and the newer, slicker Video Trailer.
Overall, this is very comprehensive and worthwhile. I have found a new appreciation for the film after viewing all this. The finished release is still a major disappointment, but there is ample evidence that there was once a much more brutal and powerful version in existence.
VerdictWell, this is an excellent package, overall. The AV performance is extremely good, the extras are plentiful and comprehensive and the whole approach to examining this genre curio is nothing short of revelatory. The thing is though, the film, arguably, just doesn't deserve such lavish treatment. There's definitely a good story in there somewhere, but Anderson steadfastly refuses to let it breathe and come to life. And as much as I keep on trying to like the film a little bit more, its eventual vacuum of ideas and hum-drum finale just continue to leave me under-whelmed.
However, for fans, this 2-disc release is exceptional value and must be snapped up. I cannot deny the class of the production and the exhaustive background this edition supplies, but I still think that this is a purchase you may feel you want in your collection perhaps more than it actually warrants being there in the first place.
A letdown of a movie bolted onto a fantastic DVD package.
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