Event Horizon Blu-ray Review
Event Horizon arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p 2.35:1 transfer, however I am refraining on using the words theatrically correct here. That is because the disc retains some problems, apparently, from the original DVD releases.
Now, I should go on record here and say that this is NOT something that is immediately noticeable on a casual viewing, and you have to look VERY hard to see it. But the image does have a defect, and if I don't point it out here I would not be doing my job. The image has been very slightly stretched vertically, meaning that if you really study the image, you can see that everything seems slightly out of kilter. As I say, this is very slight - and has always been a problem even with the DVD version (I checked). So, if you have viewed the film at home before without ever noticing this, then you are unlikely to do so here.
Once this issue is out of the way, onto the meat and potatoes of the transfer. The first thing to notice is that this IS a noticeable improvement over the previous DVDs. The film is deliberately dark and foreboding, and this transfer does well to retain that look without ever compromising on detail level. 3D pop is far more visible in this transfer, and is particularly noticeable in the shots filmed in the central corridor - which not recedes into the distance with mind bending clarity.
Facial detail is also revelatory in this transfer. Just watch the scene where Miller and DJ are discussing events on the bridge of the “Lewis and Clark”. The level of detail in the faces and in the uniforms is way ahead of anything we have seen before. This increased clarity does lead to a few problems, in that some of the effects shots do look rather soft in comparison - for example, one key explosion scene (I am trying not to spoiler here). This would have been unavoidable but should still be mentioned.
Event Horizon is not, and was never meant to be, a colourful film and as such there is very little vibrancy here. However, where blood is destined to flow, it does with very deep, bright colour. Several deaths are rendered much more visceral in this version, and the clarity of the gory flash frames are also much clearer.
Apart from the one problem mentioned in the first paragraph, then, this is on the whole an excellent transfer. The DVD was never particularly ropey looking, so the quality on the Blu-ray was probably to be expected - but it is a noticeable upgrade nonetheless.
Event Horizon comes to Blu-ray with a lossless TrueHD soundtrack. The DVD was always a particular favourite of mine with the sound design, so I was really hoping against hope that the Blu-ray would be an upgrade. I was very pleasantly surprised in all but a handful of scenes.
The first thing to note is that in this film the bass always went DEEP. But this mix turns the bass level up to 11. The opening scene, as the camera pans around the Event Horizon, drifting in Neptune's orbit, thunder cracking in the background is probably the lowest sound I have heard on a DVD. And it is a simply stunning, floor-shaking sound here on the Blu version. Make sure the neighbours are out before watching the beginning of this one.
So, LFE is all present and correct but as we know there is more to a film than just pounding bass. Thankfully, this sound mix delivers in other ways too. The dialogue is mixed very well, always clear and precise whatever is going on around. Front separation is generous without being the most expansive I have ever heard. The score is well integrated.
The rears are very quiet during the first part of the film, never really providing the necessary ambience you might expect from an active ship like The Lewis and Clark. There is no sound of the engine, or the little beeps of machines working away. However, once we are on the Event Horizon, and the spooky stuff starts then the rears are used extremely well indeed. Whispered voices, strange sounds, screams and other various scary effects are well placed around the sound field with breathtaking precision, and pans are accurate. Once the rears do come to life, they add a lot to the ambience of the film. It is just such a shame that it takes them rather too long to do so.
Overall then, this is again a noticeable upgrade over the DVD version. Although there are some flaws with the first 20 minutes, this is more than likely down to the source and is probably not something that could have been improved upon without a full remaster.
Well, having previously only seen a vanilla DVD of this film - it was a revelation to find the extras included here. No sign of the previously rumoured Director's Cut (which has now been debunked by Anderson), this probably provides the last word in Event Horizon extras.
Paul Anderson starts off by providing a full Audio Commentary. It is a shame that none of the actors contribute here, but Anderson is an engaging companion with lots of enthusiasm for the project. He entertains and informs and this is certainly one of the better commentaries I have heard. It almost made me forgive the guy for the crimes he has committed against cinema. Almost.
The most fascinating extra is the 90 minute long The making of Event Horizon. Divided into five chapters this covers pretty much every facet of the making of the film in exquisite detail. Noticeably lacking in self-congratulatory fluff, and featuring a particularly interesting segment on the set design, this documentary enhances the whole package no end.
Even this in-depth documentary is enhanced even more with four more short featurettes that didn't make the main doc. They are put together under the banner The Point of No Return and are presented with an optional directors commentary.
Alongside the theatrical trailer we are also presented with The unseen, conceptualised scenes that were never shot, and shown here in storyboard film, and also some deleted scenes
It should be noted that all extras are in SD - but this is still a riveting package that will greatly please fans of the film. All were on a special edition DVD that was released stateside, and so are not exclusive, but it's great to see them all included.
The film may be a guilty pleasure, but I do enjoy Event Horizon. There may be glaring weaknesses in plot and dialogue, but the film plays like Hellraiser in space. The first act builds up the tension well, and the second and third act deliver in spades with plenty of horror and gore. All this is delivered in some stunning sets and with some fairly decent acting from a stellar cast.
The picture, despite one glaring flaw that has always been present in home formats, is a very solid upgrade, as is the sound. The extras package is extremely comprehensive and adds a lot to the whole experience.
If you enjoy the film, and only have the vanilla DVD then this is a definite upgrade. Those who imported the special edition DVD are likely to have a slightly more difficult choice. As for those who have never seen the film, if you have any interest in sci-fi horror then you should really give this a try. It is Anderson's best work by a long way and delivers on the scares and the atmosphere.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £29.99
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