17 November 2014

Crazy As Hell

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There are two directors with similar names and who have had two very different careers. The first is Paul Thomas Anderson and the other is Paul W.S.Anderson. Paul Thomas Anderson is the man behind such masterpieces as There Will Be Blood and Magnolia whereas W.S. Anderson is responsible for such shite as AVP: Alien Vs. Predator and the ball-haemorrhagingly dull Resident Evil. Anyway, so if you too find it difficult to keep track of which is which, I have a handy little tip to help you remember. Just imagine that P.T stands for Pretty Terrific whereas as W.S stands for Wanky Shit. It works for me, so you're welcome! Anyway- bearing in mind that I know the poor fucker as Paul Wanky Shit Anderson, I was always curious about his 1997 sci-fi film Event Horizon. There really is no denying how crap his films are however this one seems to have become a bit of a cult hit and not just in a The Room style 'what-a-load-of-shite-that-is' way. Not only that but I listen to a lot of podcasts because they're easier to deal with than real friends and Empire Magazine's one bangs on about this film almost every week. I therefore decided to gamble an hour and a half of my life on their recommendation... Although fuck it, I'm single so it's not like I had anything better planned than tossing off and having a cry.
So Event Horizon tells the story of a small space crew whose mission it is to track down a missing ship by locating its distress beacon. Because you know... when has locating a distress beacon ever gone badly in a sci-fi film? For this mission they bring along a new member who is said to be an expert on the lost craft. He also happens to look, sound and actually be Sam Neil and so as a huge Jurassic Park fan, who wouldn't want him along for the ride? Speaking of the crew, it also seems to consist of Lawrence "actually is Lawrence Fishburne" Fishburne, Jason "Hello to Jason Isaacs" Isaacs, Sean "Son of a Gummidge" Pertwee, one of the Redgrave sprogs and some other guy who may as well be wearing a Star Trek style red shirt. So even if this is by Mr Wanky Shit, at least it has a really good cast to enjoy along the way! Anyway, so they find the ship which just so happens to contain some giant worm holey thing inside of it and things seem to have gone a little tits up. Did I not mention that? Oh yeah, it's got this giant portal shiz in it which is meant to make space travel even more efficient but may have accidentally opened a gateway to Hell. Like I said, when did investigating a distress beacon ever lead to trouble?

So yeah that's basically what Event Horizon is about. It's about one spaceship accidentally travelling straight into the abyss which as a person who once accidentally wandered into Toxteth is something I can relate to. I guess the big question though is that considering how fucking awful Anderson is as a director, is this film really as good as I'd heard? Well, to be honest, I guess it kind of was. I mean it wasn't perfect by a long shot but as good-films-by-bad-filmmakers go I was pleasantly surprised. It was like eating a meal that you suspected might kill you and finding out that not only did you not get the shits but that it actually tasted rather pleasant. I mean the set design alone is really cool with it having a more believable look than anything else that Anderson has since shat out into our cinemas. Obviously some of the CG is a little dated these days but the physical environments that the actors potter about in are almost worthy of Sir Ridley! Admittedly, it's probably Ridley on an off day but that's still an improvement to what we've come to expect from Anderson since. I mean, his film before this was the Mortal Kombat movie! Have you seen that? Jesus, it was bollocks. To be fair it takes skill to make a film that has even less of a story than the fighting game that it's based off but still. 

Actually, speaking of the actors, they are as good as you'd expect those above names to be. I mean, Jason Isaacs is massively underused but on the bright-side, his characters' conclusion is possibly the most memorable. I don't want to ruin what happens but it's the kind of thing that might cause George Lazenby to exclaim that "He had a lot of guts". Laurence Fishburne basically plays the same old role that we expect him to these days but I don't have a problem with that. As far as being typecast goes, there are worse roles than the strong, cool leader who seems in control and fair despite the crazy bullshit around him. Beyond the fact that it undermines his own career and contains undercurrents of racism, I don't see why Samuel L. Jackson would be annoyed about people confusing the two of them. Perhaps though the person who has the most fun is Sam Neil who plays the mad scientist that's at the heart of their mission. I don't think this counts as a spoiler because it's hinted towards at the start of the film but his character goes to a place which is both horrifying and hilarious... but in a good way. 

However, if there's one thing that took me by surprise it's simply how much of this film seems to have been pilfered by Danny Boyle for his film Sunshine. I mean, who'd have thought that the man behind Trainspotting could ever owe a debt to the man behind the Death Race remake. Both films involve some space-people investigating a distress beacon from another lost ship and in both cases it turns out that the missing crew all went completely fucking mad. Although, in Sunshine's case, this meant they all got a bit obsessed with a lovely star whereas in Event Horizon they get a bit rapey and pull their own eyes out. In both cases too though, there's a kind of existential thing going on as the Sun in Boyle's film represents God and the Event Horizon here is basically symbolic of pure evil. I know that that is a fairly basic observation to make but fuck it, it's still true! Both movies also start as fairly straight forward sci-fi films but involve a third act in which some creepy fucking headcase starts running around trying to kill people. I mean, I guess I'd say that I prefer Sunshine overall but to be fair, people do have problems with how that movie crunches from one genre to another. At least here the transition from investigating an empty ship to being hacked up by a knobhead happens a little more smoothly.

So yeah if you've not seen Event Horizon then I'd also add my name to that long list of people telling you that it's worth a go. It's nowhere near a masterpiece or anything like that but it is good fun and it had a couple of enjoyably creepy moments. I mean, there are various parts of this film that reminded me of such classics as Alien and even Solaris which is a fairly surprising thing to say, I guess. Usually when I watch a film by Paul W.S Anderson I'm thinking more about the decay that it might be doing to my own brain than I am Scott or Tarkovsky. There were scenes in which Fishburne was stamping around his spaceship that made this look like a prequel to The Matrix to which was fun. It's not, obviously, but it's odd to think that it was similar and even came out a couple of years beforehand. You have to wonder if perhaps even the Wachowskis took a little inspiration from here? Again, lets not forget that I'm saying this about a film by Paul Wanky Shit Anderson. Is there a message here? I guess that it's that you should write somebody off because you never know what they're capable of. Or maybe even that one of the shittest directors is capable of something above average if he tries. Thanks for reading motherfuckers and see you next time!

You can visit the blog picture artist at _Moriendus_

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