Event Horizon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This transfer fell into the good but not great category.
Sharpness faltered only on a few occasions. Some light edge enhancement meant that some wide shots looked a bit soft. However, these didn’t cause many distractions, and the majority of the movie displayed solid delineation. I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, but source flaws created some concerns. Periodic examples of specks and grit popped up through the film. Though these weren’t constant, they occurred more than I’d like.
Horizon went with a cold, metallic palette. Occasional examples of greens and reds appeared – usually via lighting – but the movie mostly stayed with cool tones. The DVD replicated these well and displayed them with more than adequate fullness. Blacks seemed deep and dense, and most shadows were appropriately clear. The main exceptions related to shots of dark-skinned actors; it became tough to discern their faces in many of the movie’s low-light scenes. I thought this was a problem with the original photography and not an issue with the transfer. Overall, this was a pretty positive image.
The audio of Event Horizon seemed good, though it also offered something of a mixed bag. The DVD presented both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. Other than the usual difference in mastering volumes that made the DTS version louder, these two mixes were very similar. I discerned no other significant changes between them.
I found two main problems with the audio. First, usage of the LFE was erratic. That speaker went silent too much of the time and missed some opportunities for good material. When the track used it, however, it often came across as too strong. Subwoofer response tended to overwhelm the rest of the track on the occasions it came into play.
In addition, I found a surprising amount of distortion for such a recent soundtrack. Some effects crackled and lacked the expected integrity. These instances didn’t occur with frequency, but they created some minor distractions.
Otherwise I found a lot to like from the audio. The soundfield was appropriately active. It created a good sense of the outer space setting and allowed elements to move around the spectrum neatly. The action sequences formed a solid setting and the quieter scenes offered creepy ambience. All five speakers participated actively.
Except for the occasional distortion, audio quality was good. Speech seemed natural and crisp, and I noticed no signs of edginess. Music showed nice range and definition. The score was consistently bright and bold. Despite the distortion, effects usually came across as full-bodied and possessed a good impact. The various flaws knocked this audio down to “B” level, but it still supported the film well.
For this two-disc Special Collector’s Edition, we start with DVD One’s audio commentary. It presents a running, screen-specific chat with director Paul WS Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt, both of whom sit together. Veterans of the format, they show comfort with commentaries but don’t manage to make this one memorable.
Anderson and Bolt cover how they came onto the project, its rushed production, sets and various effects, influences and inspirations, the cast, cinematography and design, cut scenes and trims, and other general notes. This acts as a decent nuts and bolts examination of the process, and we occasionally find good stories. I especially like Anderson’s discussion of how he worked to meld the very different acting styles of Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill.
However, I can’t say the commentary leaves a terrific impression overall. It goes slowly at times and doesn’t seem an involving or complete as I’d like. Expect to find a fair primer here but not a terrific chat.
DVD One also includes some Previews at the opening of the disc. We get ads for Aeon Flux, MacGyver, The Warriors and Get Rich or Die Tryin’.
As we move to Disc Two, we begin with The Making of Event Horizon. This five-part documentary fills a whopping one hour, 42 minutes and 55 seconds. It mixes movie shots, images from the shoot, and interviews. We hear from Anderson, Bolt, production designer Joseph Bennett, animated extras chief supervising designer Pauline Fowler, actor Jason Isaacs, Image Animation effects consultant Bob Keen, special effects producer Stuart McAra, special effects supervisor Richard Yuricich, and Orbital’s Phil and Paul Hartnoll.
The show looks at Anderson’s influences and the project’s development. From there it digs into stages, sets and the movie’s look, the qualifications of the crew and their work, and the cast, their performances and their interactions. The program continues with information about various shooting difficulties and technical issues, prosthetics, makeup and visual elements on the set, ship design and creation, and various effects concerns. Finally, the piece goes through edits and studio pressure, the score, and final thoughts about the flick.
Inevitably, a fair amount of material from the commentary repeats here. That said, the documentary acts as a better source of information. It covers the various topics in a more direct, coherent manner and lacks the commentary’s slow spots. In addition, shots from the set and other behind the scenes elements help flesh out our understanding of the production. The presentation occasionally becomes monotonous; the chapter that deals with effects often offers little more than very dull “talking head” shots of McAra and Yuricich. However, things usually work fine and this turns into a very strong documentary.
We get one deleted scene and two extended scenes in the Secrets area. Taken together, these run a total of 10 minutes and three seconds. These include “Deleted Briefing Scene”, “Extended Medical Bay Scene”, and “Extended Burning Man Confrontation”. The last two include no production sound and come only with commentary from Anderson, while his remarks are optional with “Briefing”. He gives us good information about the scenes and the changes made to them. As for the sequences themselves, “Briefing” is the most interesting, though I think it was a smart cut as it ruins some of the tension and surprises.
In “The Unseen Event Horizon”, we split into two areas. The Un-Filmed Rescue Scene gives us a two-minute and 57-second shows storyboards for what would have been our intro to the Lewis and Clark. Anderson discusses it and offers nice background about it. I rather wish they’d filmed it, as I think it’d have made a nice start to things.
When we look at Conceptual Art, we get a three-minute and 52-second montage of images. Accompanied by narration from Anderson, we see drawings and paintings created for a mix of elements used in the film. We get a decent little overview of these stages of the production.
The Point of No Return divides into four featurettes that run a total of eight minutes and 12 seconds. Featuring commentary from Anderson, these show various elements from the set. We look at “The Revolving Corridor”, “The Crew Gathers”, “Shooting Wire Work” and “The Dark Inside”. These let us see various elements of the shoot while Anderson gives us notes about them. All of this works fine, though I’d have preferred optional commentary; I’d like to hear what the participants said on the set.
Finally, the DVD presents two trailers. We find the film’s theatrical clip along with a video promo.
A ridiculously derivative film, Event Horizon comes across as less than the sum of its parts. The movie steals with abandon but fails to tie together the components into a coherent, entertaining whole. The DVD provides generally good picture and audio along with a very positive roster of extras. I can’t complain about this strong release, but the movie itself leaves me cold.