Magazine article The Spectator

Back to the Future

Magazine article The Spectator

Back to the Future

Article excerpt

Event Horizon may well be the lamest motion picture title of all time, conjuring up, if anything, PR firm forward-planning jargon for a nightclub launch. If you want a title that actually tells you what the picture's about, my suggestion would be Freddie Krueger Meets Space Station Mir. It is 2047, seven years after the Event Horizon has disappeared round the back of Neptune, and, as the rescue party is about to discover, when you're careless about which void you fold into, sometimes your spaceship ends up literally going to hell.

Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and his rescue party make one disastrous error: they take along mad scientist Sam Neill, designer of the Event Horizon and a man given to unusually vivid nightmares about his absent wife. His spaceship, it transpires, has an innovation in the engine room. 'A black hole,' muses Lieutenant Starck, played by television's Lady Chatterly, Joely Richardson. `The most destructive force in the universe. And you've created one.' Event Horizon is one of those sci-fi films that aims for profundity, on the strength of which presumably it attracted its distinctive cast. But, despite the big concept, it's let down in almost every detail: the black hole proves to be less than the sum of its parts, which, as directed by Paul Anderson and designed by Joseph Bennett, are a collection of every hoary sci-fi cliche. The crew wear boiler suits, the ship is a clanking metal hulk and the combined effect is of some neo-brutalist London restaurant. You'd think, by 2047, if they could get a spaceship to Neptune, they could get, say, a Liberty-print sofa up there too. Considering that most of the film's stock characters and the layout of the space ship follow the well-loved formulae of Star Trek, Anderson might as well have gone all the way and put them in Captain Kirk and co's jolly purple and turquoise Crimplene with static klingon.

Instead, the only design novelty is lycra underpants. To avoid having your brain liquified by ... well, something or other out there in space, you have to spend 56 days floating in 'stasis' - which boils down to a giant pickling jar in which you're the gherkin. You take all your clothes off to climb into this - except, funnily enough, your lycra underpants and, in Joely Richardson's case, a lycra brassiere. When she emerges 56 days later sopping wet and is immediately sent off to the ship's bridge, you wonder whether it's such a good idea to fight space monsters in damp underwear. …

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