As a child of divorce, I totally understand the feeling of being tossed back and forth between parents for weekend trips, holidays, etc., but the situation at Event Horizon is getting a little problematic, and CPS might need to get involved soon. After years of radio silence on the end of Paramount and their outdated Event Horizon Blu-ray release, the good folks at Shout! Factory swooped in to capitalize on the film’s cult status and put together a definitive collector’s edition of the film on Blu-ray. The issue? Shout! Factory unfortunately only released the film on a standard 1080p Blu-ray, and while it looked and sounded fantastic, and Shout! Factory’s status as a boutique label doesn’t afford them the capital to make every release of theirs a 4K release just yet, there was still the big “what if?” in my head about the potential.
But then, Event Horizon’s bum-ass daddy (Paramount) swooped back into the picture wanting to suddenly have a relationship with his child on their 25th birthday and insisted that he be the one to give the film a proper 4K release. While the sudden change-of-heart and insistence of effort is pleasantly surprising, I have a lot of questions I need answered before I can accept this new reality.
If you want my thoughts on why Event Horizon is a fine wine of a sci-fi thriller, underappreciated by the masses of the 1990s, but lauded by originality-starved sci-fi/horror fiends of the 21st century, you can see my review of the excellent Shout! Factory Blu-ray here. This review will focus solely on the attributes and quality of Paramount’s new 25th anniversary steelbook for its new 4K release.
I can’t necessarily keep up with what masters were used for what Blu-ray releases at this point for Event Horizon, but the reason for that is that at both studios, the film simply looks wonderful, and this new foray into 4K is no different. This is, without question, the best Event Horizon has ever looked. What I most appreciate about this 4K restoration is that the film grain has been lovingly preserved to keep it from taking on a glossy, overly polished look. Event Horizon is a dark, gritty, ugly film that builds tension from a ship that’s supposed to feel unsettlingly organic, and this version really reflects that.
While the film is no Curse of the Golden Flower when it comes to color, this is also a great display of the power of Dolby Vision in a muted, neutral-toned film, particularly with the power of intense, true black levels. Mired in shadows, this is a film made for the deep vastness of Dolby Vision, and it’s subtly, but wonderfully utilized here.
One small caveat presents itself in this wonderfully realized restoration of the film though…it all looks so good, that the film’s rare, but noticeably janky CGI effects look even worse in the light of day. It’s noticeable the second the opening credits conclude as we fly through the abandoned corpse of the Event Horizon, with various artifacts of life floating around the ship. For a film that utilizes so many great practical effects that transfer beautifully to newer, flashier formats, the 1997 of it all shows perhaps even more in these brief, but noticeable moments.
But for as many things Paramount did to bring the film’s visuals up to the modern day, even surpassing what Shout! Factory did visually, unfortunately on the audio front, things have actually regressed a fair bit. This release includes the exact same Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track included on the original Paramount Blu-ray release from 2008. Shout! Factory, while only transferring the source audio to a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, improved upon a lot of the film’s sound mixing between quiet scenes of tension and bombastic sequences of terror. There was also just a depth and richness to the low-pitched, booming audio that made it just a delight to listen to, and you knew you were getting into some good stuff the second the Paramount logo screeched harshly into the film’s opening credits.
Here, after said logo, while it still sounds serviceable, it lacks the depth and power that newer audio tracks have been able to perfect on the format for the past 14 years. While I can understand Shout! Factory’s lack of resources to give the film a full Dolby Atmos mix, there really is no excuse as to why Paramount, the multi-billion dollar copyright holder to the film, couldn’t. And even if they couldn’t, why not at least pay the bit of money to include Shout! Factory’s wonderful 5.1 track? It’s just lazy home media practices that they think people won’t notice, but if you’re going out of your way to buy a 4K, 25th anniversary collector’s steelbook of Event Horizon, I promise you, we’re noticing. Try harder. Be better.
A lot of Shout! Factory’s new special features were left off of this release (they were actually produced and licensed by Shout! Factory, so that’s totally understandable), but the good news is that because Event Horizon was released in the heyday of special features on home media releases, there is still a general treasure trove here, and is about 75% of what is included on the Shout! Factory release. Unfortunately, we still don’t have that lost director’s cut, but even the most dedicated of fans know to give up on that fight.
I would be remiss to not mention the excellent Steelbook provided with this release as well. While a regular old Steelbook would have sufficed, including a semi-transparent slipcover to create depth and illusion brings a lot of character to the package, even if it is a bit cheesy looking. It is head-and-shoulders better than the janky cover art included with the Shout! Factory release.
So, let’s say you only want to buy one edition of Event Horizon, which one do you buy? This answer, like the logistics of having a child between you during a divorce, brings forth many answers. On one hand, Mom’s (Shout Factory’s) Blu-ray provides audiences with an excellent 1080p video transfer and exceptional DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio mix. They could honestly be better, as a 4K image and Dolby Atmos audio track would be ideal, but with all those special features, who can argue too much? But then Dad (Paramount) comes back around in his shiny new sports car (aka, this release’s excellent Steelbook), and woos you with a wonderful, authentic, true-to-form 4K video transfer, one so good and detailed that it almost makes you forget that Dad hasn’t updated the audio track in years. He has *almost* all of the special features you would need in his fridge, but not everything you could have at Mom’s house, but it suffices. Whose house do you like staying at more? What do you value in a Blu-ray release? Why are they both fighting so much to keep your affection? Wouldn’t it just be easier to come together to create some sort of ideal conjoined home?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t do us much good to speculate on such developments, but for fans of Event Horizon, you’re going to lose out on some major things with each release, but if you prioritize the cleanest and best image quality, this is the release for you. If you’re more interested in special features and an improved audio track, go for the Shout! Factory release. You can’t lose either way, but you’re also not going to win everything you ever dreamed of with either release.
Event Horizon Special Features:
DISC ONE: 4K BLU-RAY
- 4K restoration of the film
- Dolby Vision/HDR presentation of the film
- Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track
- Optional English, English SDH, and French subtitles for the main feature
DISC TWO: BLU-RAY
- 4K restoration of the film
- Audio commentary by director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt
- The Making of Event Horizon – Five featurettes
- The Point of No Return – The filming of Event Horizon with director commentary
- Secrets with optional director commentary
- The Unseen Event Horizon – the unfilmed rescue scene, plus conceptual art
- Original trailer
- Digital Copy of the film
Available on 4K UHD limited edition steelbook and digital August 9th, 2022.
For more information, head to the Paramount Pictures Event Horizon webpage.