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Event Horizon (1997)
Event Horizon is a 1997 science fiction horror film. The screenplay was written by Philip Eisner (with an uncredited rewrite by Andrew Kevin Walker) and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. The film stars Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill. It was #1 at the box office in the UK. In 2047, the rescue vessel Lewis and Clark is dispatched to answer a distress signal received from the Event Horizon, a starship that disappeared during its maiden voyage to Proxima Centauri seven years prior. Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and his crew —Lieutenant Starck (Joely Richardson), pilot Smith (Sean Pertwee), Medical Technician Peters (Kathleen Quinlan), Engineer Ensign Justin (Jack Noseworthy), Rescue Technician Cooper (Richard T. Jones), and Trauma Doctor D.J. (Jason Isaacs) —are joined for the mission by the Event Horizon's designer Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill). Dr. Weir briefs the crew that the Event Horizon was built to test an experimental gravity drive which generates an artificial black hole to use the immense gravitational power to bridge two points in spacetime, greatly reducing travel time over astronomical distances.
The plot concerns a scientific spaceship - the Event Horizon - that was sent into a black hole with a full crew. The ship, naturally, vanishes and reappears years later, empty and sulking in a space fog. A small rescue crew is sent out to rendezvous with the Event Horizon, comprised of all your traditional stock characters (stoic Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill), Med Tech Peters (Kathleen Quinlan), and the usual spacefaring grunts). Once onboard the desolate Event Horizon, all manner of bizarre things begin taking place, and it's quite clear from the outset that wherever the Event Horizon was, it didn't come back alone. We're not talking Alien territory here, nothing that tangible, but the residue of some otherworldly hell that has infested the hulk of the ship and imbued it was a hideous life of its own. Or perhaps, it really did go to the hell. It's a bit unclear.
And that's the whole problem with Event Horizon; it can't decide just what it wants to be. Is this a ghost ship? Is the ship actually alive? Is it in another dimension all together? Not that any of this should matter; science fiction films have long depended less on logic and more on technical wizardry and pseudo-science mumbo-jumbo. It's usually just the idea of being 'out there' in a sweet spaceship exploring the depths of the universe; all the rest is filler. But scripter Phillip Eisner tries to steer everything away from the gee-whiz and wraps it in pseudo-religious mumbo-jumbo and pseudo-philosophical crap. The thing stinks of sophomore year bong hits and reeks of psych 101 cliché.
The movie looks great; the design work by Joseph Bennett (who cut his teeth on Richard Stanley's maligned Hardware and Dust Devil) combines the ominous atmosphere of a looming cathedral with dark art deco. Cool stuff. And cinematographer Adrian Biddle is no slouch; his work here is as good as anything he did for James Cameron (Aliens) or Ridley Scott (Thelma and Louise). The acting is par for the course, with Neill chewing up the scenery in hysterical fashion towards the end and Fishburne as cold as ever.
Event Horizon is not a good movie by any stretch, but as a science fiction film with a well-crafted atmosphere and a true dark streak (in its uncut version the gore scenes seem to go on forever) it certainly warrants a cursory viewing. Call it Solaris for suburbanites. Or, perhaps more accurately, a retarded Goth version of 2001.
Superfans are in luck: The new DVD features commentary from Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt, plus a second disc piled up with extras, from concept art to a half-dozen production documentaries tracking the creation of the film.
Circle gets the square.
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