Point of no return: hell among the stars

Point of no return: hell among the stars

Point of no return

A spaceship considered lost in the dangers of hyperspace re-emerges after years, attracting a recovery mission that hopes to finally solve one of the great mysteries of space exploration. What looks like a traditional sci-fi film opening, however, is turned upside down by the visionary talent of Paul W.S. Anderson, who in 1997 transformed this traditional narrative device typical of science fiction into a horror story that bends the sci-fi element to a gore and hallucinating narrative. Point of no return (Event Horizon) today is remembered with varying opinions, between those who consider it a symbolic film of a complex era of cinema at the end of the 90s and those who still today consider it an unmissable guilty pleasure.

Revised today, twenty-five years after its release, it is undeniable that Point of No Return has not aged particularly well. If the idea behind it can be considered as an interesting narrative cue, it cannot be denied that the passage of time has deprived what were already mediocre technical means of their expressive power at the time, making them emerge as the fulcrum of Anderson's film. was essentially based on visual amazement, strongly veered towards splatter, which is now the only truly unchanged feature of Point of No Return. Yet his merciless aging is a sign of a period in which the cinema was churning out titles of various kinds (and even more varied fortunes) in the hope of maintaining a high audience presence in the cinema.

Point of no return: when horror and science fiction meet

Point of no return: horror and science fiction Horror in the cosmos Point of no return: the plot Point of no return: the new edition Plaion Pictures

Point of no return: horror and science fiction

If today we have cinepattoni, in the 90s the most coveted season by the majors was summer, so much so that starting from the middle of the decade that trend came to life that today we could define summer movies. Thanks to the greater availability of time and a lightheartedness typical of the summer period, especially for the younger audience, the giants of cinema saw in summer movies the best way to dare new narrative grammars, hoping to grasp the taste of the spectators and also allowing themselves the risk to flop. It is no coincidence that in those years films emerged that later became real cult, such as Se7en, Fight Club or Matrix, but also experimental products such as Space Jam and the new season of d isaster movies, which he saw in Armageddon and Deep Impac t i two points of maximum expression. Within this experimental (and quite reckless) era, science fiction certainly could not, especially after Emmerich with his Independence Day had shown that the public was still hungry for science fiction stories, as long as they knew how to mix with other suggestions. And if Emmerich had intertwined his alien invasion with a disaster movie visionary, why not renew the science fiction and horror union?

What Scott did twenty years earlier with his Alien was still a perfect example of how the two genres could coexist, even if the public's taste for horror was now oriented towards greater spectacularization of violence, of splatter. It was this search for a new proposal that could accommodate as wide an audience as possible that prompted Paramount Pictures to turn to Paul W.S. Anderson, a director who had just returned from the film adaptation of Mortal Kombat and who at the time seemed to be one of the promises of Hollywood. The only condition placed on the director was that the film was made quickly, in order to be ready to dominate the summer season of 1997, as Paramount found itself without its expected blockbuster film due to extended processing times and the maniacal care of a certain James Cameron, who was unwilling to be pressured to work his Titanic.

The conception that Event Horizon would return from a journey into hyperspace after having been in a dark and demonic dimension was, by the same admission of screenwriter Philip Eisner, suggested by Warhammer 40.0000, the famous sci-fi setting of board games of Games Workshop, in which spaceships crossing the warp are forced to do so using special shields that prevent the evil entities that populate it from slaughtering unwary travelers.

Horror in the cosmos

More that the sci-fi approach, Point of No Return caused a sensation at the time for its explicit use of a splatter visual narrative. If the infernal geometries seemed to be inspired by the art of Bruegel and Bosch, with a distorting allegory of the restlessness of the human soul, to give the sense of latent horror is also the design of this crazy setting, created in record time by Joseph Bennett, who managed to create a particular crasis between the infernal dimension and the technological one, creating a setting that best integrated the concept of damnation, an intuition that had been brought into the project by Andrew Walker, screenwriter of Se7en, which Paramount had involved to optimize the Original Screenplay for Event Horizon.

Although they had a production in the pipeline that aimed at a highly horror-themed narrative from the beginning, Paramount were stunned when Anderson presented an early version of the film, in which he was all his disturbing vision of this deadly journey into the cosmos merged. As Anderson himself recalled years later, the major was greatly disturbed by this presentation:

Someone told me 'We are the studio that makes Star Trek! ”, But they were not only scared by the film, they were convinced that I was insulting. Star Trek somehow, because I had set the story in space too, adding all that hideous stuff.

Reason that prompted Paramount to impose a strict size for the strongest scenes, reducing the final shot by 103 minutes. A narrative guillotine obligatory for theatrical release, but which became a boomerang when Point of No Return became a small cult, so much so that when it was decided to make a director's cut version, Anderson had to give up due to the impossibility of recovering all the scenes cut, lost during processing.

Net of the cuts and interpretations of an excellent cast (Sam Neill and Lawrence Fishburne in primis), Point of no return at the time was mainly striking precisely for the splatter scenes, considering that the basic plot and the sci-fi component were secondary elements. A nature that, relying on the need for visual effects that supported this truculent imagery, has suffered over time, with a technology that has taken impressive steps and which has therefore led viewers to perceive the sense of fiction behind the making of this film. .

Point of no return: the plot

Year 2047. After mysteriously disappearing into the cosmos seven years earlier, the spacecraft Event Horizon reappears in the solar system. At the time of its disappearance, the Event Horizon was an experimental vessel equipped with innovative technology that, by exploiting black holes, bent time allowing an almost immediate space travel. Reason why his appearance prompts the authorities to recall his builder, Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill), who is accompanied to the wreck of the ship by a team led by Captain Miller (Lawrence Fishburne), aboard the vessel. rescue rescue Lewis & Clark.

The only transmission received after the ship's reappearance is a disturbing and confused audio in which a cryptic Latin phrase is recognized: "free me". Upon reaching Neptune, the Lewis and Clark finds the wreck of the Event Horzion, which is then explored under the precise instructions of Dr. Weir, an exploration during which the team witnesses macabre scenarios that suggest a violent massacre. During the checks on the Event Horizon, a crew member, checking the gravitational device that constitutes the revolutionary engine of the vessel, inadvertently activates the mechanism, which activating triggers a strong shock wave that seriously damages the Lewis and Clark, forcing all the crew to find refuge aboard the Event Horizon, which, having no longer been in operation for some time, can only offer a temporary refuge to Miller and his men.

On the silent Event Horizon anyone starts to to have disconcerting visions, which torment him deeply, as if the ship itself was alive and knew the soul and the darkest sins of its guests. Miller and his team will discover not only that the gravitational device has opened a bridge with a chaotic and malign dimension, but also that they cannot trust all their fellow sufferers…

How to see Point of no return

Both fans of the film and viewers looking for a particular story with strong features, can thank Plaion Pictures who, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the film's theatrical release, decided to celebrate this anniversary by bringing the delusional vision of Anderson in the world of 4k.

For its transition to 4k, Point of No Return was supported in part by being shot on 500 ASA sensitivity film, which allowed for maintain a generous background texture, an element that gave the 4K version the possibility to enhance the details of the scenes, thanks to an image format 2.35: 1 close to the original 2.39: 1 (3840 x 2160 / 23.97p), encoding HEVC on BD-66 double layer. However, the CGI effects are penalized, which in this definition show their flaws, especially when compared to modern discoveries.

The two editions made by Paramount, steelbook and Collector's Steelbook, offer a decent quality audio, with Dolby Digital 5.1 channels (640 kbps) which, however, presents the same audio as the previous versions, thus showing already known flaws, such as dialogues that deserved more emphasis and a general lack of identity of the sound effects in the most intense moments, sacrificing the soundtrack and the compositions by Michael Kamen and Orbital.

This 4k reinterpretation of Point of No Return is made interesting by the presence of numerous extra contents, such as the director's commentary on the film; focus on the creation of different sequences with interventions by Anderson (8 '); 3 deleted or extended scenes with optional director's comment (10 '); some storyboards on the never-shot scene of the rescue in space (3 ') + conceptual art for the film (4') always with optional commentary by Anderson; trailers and commercials.

True fans of the film could point to the aforementioned Collector's Steelbook, which enriches this well-made 4k version with some interesting gadgets that delight collectors.

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