If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.
It’s a term that Hollywood seems to have ignored for many years now with remake after remake being churned out. It appears that Hollywood has run out of original ideas.
This is why I almost choked on my tea when I heard that the greatest sci-fi horror film is getting resurrected. No, not Alien, but Event Horizon. It’s been confirmed that Amazon and Paramount have agreed to an Event Horizon remake or project, although details are scarce at the moment.
Released in 1997, it has become iconic. The line-up was stellar – Sam Neill; Lawrence Fishburne and Jason Issacs being the pick of the bunch. One of the standout features was the intense, creepy atmosphere that it delivered. But more on that later. At the time, though, it was a financial failure. It only took $26.7 million against a production budget of $60 million. Critics also took potshots at it; lamenting the script and some of the horror cliches. It’s a shame as director Paul W.S. Anderson has gone on to be a revered director in the sci-fi genre; particularly with his work on the Resident Evil franchise. It’s only more recently that the film has achieved cult status. And there’s a good reason why it has.
To Hell, and Back
The premise of the story is based around a crew of astronauts who are on a rescue mission to reach a missing spaceship, the Event Horizon. Set in 2047, the ship suddenly appears in Neptune’s orbit. The rescue crew quickly discover that the ship was a test bed for an experimental engine that managed to open a rift in the time-space continuum. It soon becomes clear that the ship left our universe, only to return with a malevolent entity that has possessed the ship. This has caused the previous crew to go insane and murder each other. It has been described by critics as The Shining in space, and that’s not actually a bad description. I would add that there are elements of gore-horror a-la Hellraiser, and good old-fashioned sci-fi action. But there is also a disturbing under-belly that meanders throughout the whole film.
Let’s start with the opening credits. The fanfare of the Paramount logo and intro fools you into a false sense of security. It quickly fades into black, followed by swirls of space atmosphere. The brooding music sets the theme nicely as the credits roll. As I mentioned earlier, the actors are a huge part of what makes this film so good.
Lawrence Fishburne is fantastic as the cool and controlled Captain Miller, who is the commander of the rescue vessel the Lewis and Clark. Sam Neill also does a sterling job of playing the designer of the Event Horizon ship, Dr William ‘Billy’ Weir. Praise should also go to Jason Issacs who plays the medical doctor D.J, and Sean Pertwee who adds some rough charm as Smith, pilot of the Lewis and Clark. In fact, there are only seven other actors in the entire movie. This, I feel, just adds to the dark atmosphere of helplessness that marauds through the whole film.
As the story unfolds, various crew members have flashbacks of tragedies that have happened in their lives. Every member relives their personal horrors through apparitions, but it soon becomes very real. There are so many great scenes throughout the film that are genuinely unsettling.
The footage that is found on the Event Horizon’s computer shows scenes of the previous crew engaging in murder; rape and disembowelment. This apparently, is what hell looks like. The scene is very brief, but according to Paul Anderson, the original scene was meant to be much longer. Unfortunately, the studio instructed them to cut it down; along with the whole film. I feel this is a travesty, as you don’t really get to find out enough about what happened to the crew when they passed through into another universe. Although it makes true horror fans feel short-changed, it does leave a lot more to the imagination, which adds to the mystery of the film.
So why not give it a remake, then?
To be honest, I don’t actually know how they would make it any better. Event Horizon doesn’t need a remake. Yes, the special effects have moved on in the twenty-odd years since the film was made, but they are still damn good. Especially awesome is the end fight scene between Dr Weir – who is now possessed and brought back from the dead- and Captain Miller. It takes place near the gateway of the ship and its shot perfectly. The suspense is built through the use of the set; lighting and music.
Sam Neill plays the evil Dr Weir with satisfying terror, although the prosthetics certainly help. All the actors deserve credit for their performances. They all played their roles with passion and without a hint of overacting (are you listening, Bill Shatner?). The use of fire across the walkway doesn’t look dated in the slightest either, as does the gateway of the ship, which also looks modern. You could say, if you squinted your eyes hard enough, that the Event Horizon looks like an elongated Klingon Bird of Prey. Perhaps that is a nod of the cap towards the Trek universe.
All in all, the set pieces; costumes and prosthetics are all done brilliantly. In my opinion, it doesn’t look dated in the slightest. It’s interesting to note that there was quite a bit of character backstory that was cut from the film. I would say that is the only criticism of the film, as you find yourself wanting to know more; particularly about Dr Weir and Captain Miller.
A modern-day Event Horizon remake would add some twenty-first-century CGI, but as I’ve mentioned, this film still cuts it today. The atmosphere that permeates throughout is genuinely unsettling and creepy. More credit is due to composer Michael Kamen, who handled the musical score. The acting is stellar across the board, and Paul W.S Anderson’s directing is both unnerving and snappy. Phillips Eisner is a genius for writing the script in the first place, so Hollywood, please, please don’t ruin a classic.
And that’s why Event Horizon doesn’t need a remake. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
More of our sci-fi movie articles HERE.
Read IMDB information about Event Horizon HERE.
No Time To Die – Review
No Time To Die is the 25th instalment in the official James Bond series. It’s the VERY long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Spectre. The 6-year gap between the two films is only matched by the same gap between Timothy Dalton’s last outing in 1989’s Licence To Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s debut in 1995’s Goldeneye. Here’s our review of No Time To Die.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the film, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
Of course, there are mitigating factors in that enormous gap. Namely COVID. Which made No Time To Die the first major film to delay its release due to the pandemic. Although, this film has had a difficult gestation irrespective of the global situation in the last 18 months. As soon as Spectre was released the speculation over Daniel Craig’s future in the role began. With him initially suggesting he would rather slash his own wrists than play the iconic spy again. He did a mea culpa on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in August 2017, where he confirmed he would appear as Bond for a fifth and final time. The original director and writer, Danny Boyle and John Hodge, left the project a year later over creative differences. Cory Joji Fukunaga took over as director. While Bond script veterans Robert Wade and Neil Purvis took charge of the screenplay – with a sprinkling of magic from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Originally slated for release in April 2020, at long last, we finally get to see Daniel Craig’s denouement as 007. His portrayal of Bond has been very much in keeping with the character of Ian Fleming’s original novels. His performances have certainly followed the dramatic lineage of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Rather than the lighter portrayals by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Yet his Bond has displayed a vulnerability only really demonstrated with any plausibility by George Lazenby in his solitary outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The deference to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented in stark relief throughout this 2h43min epic. Making this the longest Bond film in the series. As this was the first film I’ve seen at the cinema since before the pandemic, I was already excited before I even sat down. As a massive James Bond fan as well, I was close to apoplexy! I felt a tangible shiver go down my spine as the iconic gun barrel sequence appeared before we see James cruising around Italy in the classic DB5 with Madeleine Swann at his side. This anticipation was clearly felt by other cinema-goers. They have made No Time To Die break the UK box office record for the biggest opening weekend. It took almost £26m, breaking the record previously held by Skyfall.
I’m not going to spoil the plot for those who’ve not seen it. I had made a conscious decision to avoid spoilers before I went.
A step up?
This film is another shot in the arm for those who see Craig as the definitive Bond. This was aided by a refocusing of the Bond canon after the main tropes of the series were stretched to breaking point by the invisible cars and melting ice palaces of Die Another Day. And then stretched still further by Madonna’s cameo as a fencing instructor. Daniel Craig was given leeway to truly regenerate James Bond for the 21st Century. The stripped-back nature of Casino Royale, without most of the supporting characters that have been a staple of the series like Q and Moneypenny. Gave him licence (pardon the pun) to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of the Bond psyche. Some well-drawn female leads and villains really allowed Craig’s Bond to spar with them with depth and genuine emotion.
That exploration continues and grows in No Time To Die. We get to see an ageing, truly world-weary Bond, whose past he appears unable to escape. This leaves him in a state of almost constant angst. Paradoxically though, we also see him truly relaxed at times. In a way I can’t recall ever seeing James Bond in any of his previous cinematic outings.
The issue with that exploration is that a number of characters then have their screen time cut. Moneypenny is reduced to little more than a cameo. And Remi Malek’s Safin is almost secondary as he features in the opening moments as his story is told, but then disappears for what seemed like an eternity. He of course reappears but he almost seems a mild irritation within the plot and merely a conduit to allow us to see the climax of Daniel Craig’s Bond era. It’s a disappointing underuse of a terrific actor. One with a captivating screen presence, who could have been one of the most menacing Bond villains of all time. That said, the influence of his dastardly but highly sophisticated plan is felt by all of the main protagonists. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld continues to wreak his havoc with malevolent glee from his cell. He again revels in the chaos of his twisted sibling rivalry with Bond.
Lea Seydoux is wonderful again as Dr Madeleine Swann, picking up where she left off in Spectre and giving Bond as good as he gets in every way imaginable.
There are new characters who definitely cut through. Ana De Armas is utterly charming in her relatively brief time on-screen as Paloma, while Lashana Lynch takes no nonsense from Bond as Nomi. She also gives us a potential indicator as to the future direction of the franchise. Which has been the subject of much discussion in all quarters. That debate has even made its way into the political sphere with even Boris Johnson weighing in on what gender the next actor to play 007 should be.
Hans Zimmer’s score is classic Hans Zimmer, adding power and bombast to the usual mix of stunning scenery and brilliantly choreographed stunts. He brilliantly weaves nods to previous entries in the Bond musical tapestry throughout his score. While his cues are always thunderous, they never overpower the action on screen, but do add a sonic rumble that I don’t think has been heard in a Bond score for quite some time. I found Fukunaga’s direction a bit mixed, with some of the cinematography unnecessarily showy. Some of the tracking shots almost gave me motion sickness while some (admittedly beautifully composed) shots of the scenery seemed to have made the edit purely so as whoever the drone operator was could demonstrate their skills.
The film is much too long, although at no point did I check my watch. It’s not that any of the plot points are superfluous, more that the pacing is a little slow in places. Some of the dialogue feels cliched and clunky, making what is a great story feel a tad generic. Which doesn’t do anyone justice. However, there were some excellent jokes, and I laughed out loud several times. You don’t have to be a 007 super fan to get some of the self-referential humour that they seem to enjoy sprinkling throughout the film.
Billie Eilish’s theme song is a worthy addition to the collection and certainly sits comfortably within the top half of the ‘Bond Theme Chart’. It’s definitely more memorable and evocative than Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ for Spectre. Her voice trembles at times as you can almost feel she recognises the significance of singing the theme for Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the franchise.
It was also very pleasing to see that this film has moved with the times and reflects the world of 2021 with its portrayal of women. Every single female character had a genuine purpose and important role within the plot. While of course, the female actors playing those roles are all irrefutably glamorous and attractive. There was genuine respect and no objectification of women.
I came out of the screening with mixed emotions. Glad to be back in the cinema on one hand, sad that Daniel Craig’s stint ordering Martini’s was over on the other. I was pleased that such a good climax had been created to bring this era of Bond to a close, and all its story arcs had been brought to conclusions. I’m also excited and apprehensive in equal measure for the future of such an iconic film series. But I was disappointed with some of the characters not getting the necessary screen-time to truly develop their characters. Surprisingly, I was almost tearful at the final few moments, especially as the credits rolled.
Overall, this is a loving homage to the James Bond series, past and present. It’s a solid if unspectacular film in its own right, but the performances of Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, as well as the Bond history it wraps itself in, elevate it beyond that.
It’s not Craig’s best Bond film, as Skyfall is almost untouchable in my opinion, but it does bring closure to his tenure in the tuxedo in a manner that should please Bond fans across the board. It also tantalises us as to what the 6th age of Bond will look like. Let the intense speculation begin!
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10
Thank you for reading our review of James Bond No Time To Die. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out who we think could be the next James Bond and why HERE.
Read IMDB information about No Time To Die HERE.
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