'Event Horizon' should have been lost in space
From Reviewer Paul Tatara
(CNN) -- I don't know when it happened, but at some point it
must have become proper etiquette to let movie plots, and I
use the term loosely, degenerate into utter head-scratching
chaos by the last reel.
I think I've seen more films in 1997 than I have in my entire
life that (good, bad or indifferent) eventually seem to go
stark-raving mad, as if information has accumulated to the
point that the writer and director can no longer cope with
it. "Event Horizon" is the latest entry in this new genre.
Things fall apart so badly it's like watching a zero-gravity
version of "Scenes from a Marriage."
The year is 2047. Everything is in outer space, and it's all
rusty. A scientist, played by Sam "Don't Smile When You Say
That" Neil, has gone aboard a massive space vessel to guide
its disgruntled crew through a top secret mission.
The crew, like many other things in the movie, seems to be
lifted from the first two "Alien" films. You've got the
grim-faced commander (Lawrence Fishburne), the tough-as-nails
woman (Kathleen Quinlan), the more overtly brainy woman
(Joely Richardson), the wise-cracking black guy and one
lesser crew member who can immediately be pinpointed as soon-
to-be-chum for some grotesque alien entity.
The ship itself even looks like somebody managed to steal the
sets from the first "Alien" when Ridley Scott wasn't looking.
Everything is white, but dirty, and the engines hum like
they're on a transcendental-meditation binge.
Neil is in search of a technological marvel of a ship that he
designed called The Event Horizon. It was sent on a mission
to the outer edges of the galaxy seven years ago, and
Crew in distress -- boy, are they
Recently, however, a distress signal has been received from
its crew. (In this kind of movie, crews are either actually
in distress before your very eyes, or way-out-thar somewhere,
signaling their distress.) Everyone is put into a deep sleep
as they travel toward the signal -- just like "Alien" -- and
I'll try not to say that anymore.
When they finally reach the ship, the crew is found in
assorted pieces, or else smeared all over the control panels
like People Brand peanut butter. I guess they weren't
kidding about that distress signal. Something or someone has
done them in, and, of course, there's an explosion that
forces our heroes to abandon their own ship and hop onto the
I will say that all of this looks just great. The special
effects are dazzling, almost beautiful. They're not the
usual sort of monotonous explosions and strobe lights you
would expect. In fact, the look of the movie had me hoping
for a while that something cool was going to happen, and it
did, when the air conditioner in the theater turned on.
After a while, crew members start hallucinating, seeing
things like their Earthbound children and wives walking
around the ship in various states of, you guessed it,
Come to find out, Neil had enhanced The Event Horizon with
the ability to "fold space," so it can travel in time by
simply passing through a hole in the atmosphere. The reason
I won't say that this was stolen from "Alien" is because it
was stolen from "Dune," and I'm not even a fan of this genre.
I can only imagine what the space buffs think.
Apparently the ship traveled off the map at some point, and
came back as a living entity that is pure evil, and will do
anything it can to give its new inhabitants the mega-willies.
Richardson's character actually guesses that this is what's
going on, which is a significant achievement in deductive
So the ship knows their deepest fears. This is when
everything really starts going nuts, with a variety of gross
hallucinations and Clive Barker-like attacks taking place for
the next hour or so.
People fall from great heights and smash their heads, or have
their insides yanked out. By the time Neil turned into a no-
eyed monster thingy, I couldn't wait to get home, forget the
whole goofy affair, and listen to the Beatles.
A lot of first-class actors wasted a few months of their
lives working on this, so there must have been something
interesting about the original script. Too bad that part
didn't make it into the film.
Fishburne seems perturbed throughout, like Ike Turner in a
bulky space suit. Quinlan and Richardson are both just fine,
but you really have to think that they would just as soon let
this one sink from view. I'm sure they're sending their
agents distress signals as I write this.
"Event Horizon" contains female nudity, eyeballs getting
poked, space vomiting, a smattering of bad language and a
splattering of human beings. Some of it is truly nauseating,
but nowadays, what isn't? Don't worry, it's not you. It
really doesn't make any sense. Rated R. 97 minutes.