Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers
FEAR, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer
VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer
What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer
Are we alone in the universe? Answer
Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer
Q&A about the origin of life
|Featuring:||Ben Foster, Dennis Quaid, Cam Gigandet, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Eddie Rouse, Norman Reedus, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Delphine Chuillot, Yangzom Brauen, Niels-Bruno Schmidt, Friederike Kempter, André Hennicke, Jeff Burrell, Asia Luna Mohmand, Domenico D'Ambrosio, Alessija Lause, Alexander Yassin, Jonah Mohmand|
|Producer:||Constantin Film Produktion, Impact Pictures, Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Astrid Kühberger, Robert Kulzer, Dave Morrison, Martin Moszkowicz|
“Don’t fear the end of the world. Fear what happens next.”
Every movie-goer wants to know the answer to one simple question: should I see this? The answer in this case is… well, maybe. If you really want the truth to this question as it pertains to “Pandorum,” all you have to do is check your film history. “Alien”? “Event Horizon”? “Resident Evil”? “Pitch Black”? If you answered “yes”, and you liked these films, then yes, definitely go see “Pandorum.” If you answered “no,” or you simply got forced to see them and disliked them, avoid “Pandorum” like the plague.
It’s the year 2173. The Earth is overpopulated. Resources have run out. In an attempt to save humanity and solve the crisis, scientists search for an Earth-like planet in the far reaches of space, and they find Tanus, a planet capable of sustaining life and various ecosystems.
Corporal Bower (Ben Foster) and his Senior Officer, Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid), wake up from deep space hyper sleep on a giant ship, the Elysium. They are unaware of where they are or who they are and are disoriented (a side effect of hyper-sleeping for long periods of time). As they walk around their quarters, they find that there is no power to the ship, no sign of the flight crew that was supposed to be manning the helm, and no response on any intercom system. The doors to the ship are on lockdown, and Bower and Payton seem to be stuck in a lifeless tomb of a ship. Their only hope is to go through the ventilation ducts, unlock the outer door, and make their way to the bridge to assess the situation. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to them, they are not alone.
“Pandorum” is quite a thriller in many parts, providing plenty of scares and jumps. Intense scenes in which Bower is crawling through the ducts, covered in greases and oils, tightly cramped in trying to see what he’s hearing making noise throughout the ship are a bit overdrawn, but they do give a sense of the eerie situation these two men are in. The writers also play to psychological fear, introducing the phenomenon of “Pandorum,” a symptom of deep space sleep and travel that causes one to go insane with shakes and tremors, eventually leading to hallucinations and violence. This was a welcomed variable, as Bower and Payton are constantly trying to figure out, early on, if what they are hearing or seeing is real, or simply in their heads.
The story digresses, though, devolving slowly into a monster movie. Rather than stick to the paranormal, psychological thrilling guns, writer Travis Milloy overplays a stupid storyline very similar in feel and design to “The Descent” (except in space), in which Bower is chased down by cave-like creatures, for scene after scene, that have somehow taken over the ship. These creatures are fast, strong, and will eat anything, even their own fallen, and Director Christian Alvart wastes very little time in revealing them to the audience, taking away heavily from the film’s originality.
It does take some time to actually figure out where the creatures came from, or what the Elysium’s mission is, or how the ship was overtaken, but subtly the audience is told what happened, although it isn’t all completely clear. The audience is left watching repetitive chase scenes throughout the ship with very little story revealed for the better part of 40 minutes, as a handful of new characters are introduced, and Bower explores the ship, making his way to the reactor. Plenty of question marks are left for the audience to simply figure out or draw their own conclusions, however, even after a long, melodramatic scene in which one character relates what happens through cave drawings on the ship wall, making for a frustrating and cheesy revelation of the story that really is clever at its heart.
The violence is atrocious, period. Men are eaten alive in multiple scenes, and instead of letting the audience’s imagination run wild by suggesting violence and horror through noises on the ship and flashing lights (the route that “Alien” successfully took), it’s blatantly paraded in front of the camera in the form of tribal-like violence and gore.
The language is fairly bad, as well. Although the only word the crew members use is the “F” word, and one GD, but the former is used roughly 20 times throughout, many times when it wasn’t needed. There are no sex scenes or sexual dialogue in the film, but I suppose there really wasn’t much room for them in such a story, considering the situation.
Pandorum’s saving grace is that, from a psychological and premise standpoint, it really is an above par Science Fiction film. The beginning and ending are intriguing, although at parts campy, but the overarching social message and plot can’t be written off entirely. The story with which we as the audience travel from beginning to end, however, is monotonous when it needs to be intelligent and revealing, gory and bloody when it needs to be eerily suggestive and subdued, and repetitive when it should take advantage of an entire ship worth of story and subplot opportunities. Sci-Fi fans, especially those proponents of the horror genre, won’t be let down, and you certainly could do worse over the next few weeks at the movies, but “Pandorum has its fair share of flaws. It’s almost as though the filmmakers saw a great idea, and came up with a good conclusion, but couldn’t figure out how to get there… so they added monsters, straight out of the digital archives of “The Descent” and “I am Legend,” making “Pandorum” a good effort and a decent scare, but definitely not a classic.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.