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September 03, 1997 - Image 20

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-03

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20A - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 3, 1997

Cheap thrills, rivers of blood
fail to save lost 'Horizon'

By Joshua Rich
Daily Arts Writer
"Event Horizon," a preposterous new
science-fiction movie, starts with one of
those typical introductions of beeping
computer type running across the
screen. It is a tired cinematic preface
that always serves two purposes: to
establish the action of the film and,
more important, to excuse the filmmak-
er's decision to place the movie in an
unknown time and place.
The film begins accordingly:
"2015: First permanent colony estab-
lished on moon.
"2032: Commercial mining begins

on Mars.
"2040: Deep space research vessel
Event Horizon launched to explore
boundaries of solar system. She disap-
pears without a
trace beyond the
eighth planet, R
Neptune. It is theE
worst space disaster E
on record.
"2047: Now,..."
It is surprising At E
that with such a his-
tory to tell, director Paul Anderson and
screenwriter Philip Eisner forgot to
include one important thing, besides the

,'
:v,

occasional article - why.
As is the case with most of the action
in "Event Horizon," the significance of
the planet Neptune and the year of the
drama (other than
that it is 50 years
VIEW from now) are
never realized. I
ent Horizon don't really care
** when people will
settle on the moon,
rwood and Showcase or that Mars will be
strip-mined some-
day, especially when neither fact has
anything to do with this film. For all I
care, "Event Horizon" could have taken
place in 1997 in Los Angeles. Located
then and there, its existence as a sopho-
moric creepshow would have remained
unadulterated. The whole film takes
place almost exclusively inside a space
ship - that is, a film set - anyway.
Masked, therefore, as a veritable hi-
tech drama of mass proportions, "Event
Horizon" offers half of what its fore-
bear, "Alien," provided. This film has
all the spooks and none of the sensibil-
ities that would make it truly scary. It
seizes upon human beings' innate
detestation of visceral imagery, startling
us with rivers of blood and freaking us
out with creepy ghosts and rotting
corpses.
The scheming Dr. Weir (Sam Neill)
hitches a ride on the misnamed Lewis
& Clark search-and-rescue ship so that

Jack Noseworthy explores the Event Horizon in Paul Anderson's preposterous science-fiction film.

he may retrieve the Event Horizon that
he launched seven years earlier. On
arrival, Weir, along with the Lewis &
Clark's ethnically diverse crew, finds
the enigmatic long-lost probe haunted
and deadly. As prescribed, some char-
acters are threatened, some are killed,
all are spooked (except for the requisite
street-rapper-slash-linebacker techni-
cian), and then they go home.
But where has the Event Horizon
been? We never find out. Some place
worse than hell, we are told. Another
dimension. Another universe - some-
thing like that. Unfortunately, it is hard
to be afraid of a film when even the
filmmakers admit they don't know
what they are talking about.
To their credit, however, the concur-
rent use of Latin dialogue and gouged
eyeballs effectively makes one nearly

soil his pants. "Event Horizon" no
doubt succeeds in terrifying its viewer
at the occasional lucky moment. And
the utterly wasted cast, including
Laurence Fishburne, Kathleen Quinlan
and Joely Richardson, does a fine job of
what it needs to do - basically running
around and screaming a lot.
Still, so much is left to be desired.
Unlike in "Alien," from which "Event
Horizon" took some of its production
staff, there is little anticipation for
attack and no evident threat. That is to
say that "Alien" had a killer alien, while
all "Event Horizon" has is this notori-
ous some-place-worse-than-hell (ie.
nothing). Even pop-horror hit "Scream"
has a few killers and a neat twist that
keeps our interest for the duration.
"Event Horizon," on the other hand,
gets increasingly tedious, a sensation

shepherded by the fact that the mov
just misses making clear the essenW
metaphor that its writer undoubtedly
hoped to offer. The film would have
certainly increased in profundity if a
character - or even those pesky open-
ing titles - were to briefly mention
that an event horizon is the term for the
rim of a black hole. In this situation;
therefore, the Event Horizon is a cori
parable barrier between order and
chaos.
Perhaps if its creators spent a 4
more minutes making this motion pic-
ture more interesting and intellectually
frightening, rather than inventing lines
like the idiotic "God help us," the entire
experience would have been more
worthwhile. Cheap thrills only go so
far, and they certainly can't make it to
Neptune and back.

Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill and Kathleen Quinlan star in "Event Horizon."

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