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MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for strong horror violence and language.

Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Sci-Fi, Action, Thriller, Adventure, Horror
1 hr. 48 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 25, 2009 (wide—2,400 theaters)
DVD: January 19, 2010
Copyright, Overture Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Overture Films

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer

VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Aliens (extraterrestrials)

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
Director: Christian Alvart
Producer: Constantin Film Produktion, Impact Pictures, Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Astrid Kühberger, Robert Kulzer, Dave Morrison, Martin Moszkowicz
Distributor: Overture Films

“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.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments


Neutral—“Pandorum” definitely based on “Event Horizon, and the film often struggles through various issues than it can chew of… These issues could range from space travel to multiple personality to genetic mutation, psychosis, cannibalism and often confuse viewers about as the story progress. Travis Milloy, who did the script, a science fiction writer himself tried to mix science fiction with classic story telling which results in disaster. Some crew in the juggernaut of a spaceship—Elysium, carrying 60000 people to an Earth-like planet 500 million miles away falls into Pandorum, a psychological disorder, one of the primary reasons being their extended stay in deep space. This and the ill fated Exodus are the core themes of the film. If you enjoy science fiction horror movie genre, especially like “Event Horizon,” this is the film for you. I wouldn’t advise it to the rest.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Cyril Thomas, age 29 (UK)
Positive—From a standpoint of Biblical morality, the use of God’s name in vain would be enough of a qualification to call it immoral. The use of the F-bomb a myriad of times almost sounded like a government operated school, and such profanities are immoral as Paul had said in a couple of his letters.

Also, “Lieutenant” Peyton’s atheistic soliloquy almost sounded like something Dawkins would write… But in comparison to other movies like it, it isn’t as bad. Event Horizon is certainly similar to it, especially when considering the final happenings to Dr Weir/Lt Peyton. However, Event Horizon ended with the suggestion that the second rescue crew were also trapped aboard the possessed ship. Pandorum ends with the suggestion of the horror being over. Language usage in “Pandorum” is pretty much that of high school in the late 90’s, namely, using the F-bomb because it supposedly makes one "sound cool".

In consideration of the violence, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart exceeds it in terms of pure gore. However the alien-like aspect makes it more frightening. There is some unnecessary cleavage showing on the one female actress, but this is comparatively mild considering the regular immodesty that film producers present.

That there are no sex scenes in this film makes it excel above many others. Colonel Bower has flashbacks of his girlfriend/fiancee, but none of these has sexual content. It may be a sad moral state when you need to compare this to that to say which is less filthy, as it really shouldn’t have to be done. However, having a point of reference helps to know what to expect, and I consider “Pandorum” to be one of the better movies of this time.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Ben, age 24 (USA)