Action / Horror / Mystery / Sci-Fi / Thriller


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January 18, 2012 at 11:50 AM


Norman Reedus as Shepard
Cam Gigandet as Gallo
Ben Foster as Bower
Antje Traue as Nadia
649.59 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 48 min
P/S 7 / 81

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by debuneezmom 9 / 10

Nice mix of adventure, surprises and psychological fun

I thought this movie did an excellent job of tapping into a number of deep-rooted fears that seem to be universal - claustrophobia, loneliness, loss of memory, large semi-dark areas with things that go bump, not to mention suddenly waking up and not knowing what the heck is going on all around you.

It had some nice "seat jump" scenes, and had moments where it was surprising funny.

And lots of nice twists too - don't see that enough in movies in general any more!

I can't comment too much on the "technical" aspects of the film, sorry, I'm just more of "was it a good, believable story" person. This was.

Reviewed by Dan Franzen (dfranzen70) 7 / 10

Better than Event Horizon and Ghost Ship combined

Echoing such luminous sci-fi classics as 2001 and Alien, Pandorum is a terrific psychological thriller, although it does struggle at times to be coherent and original. But it's a true mindbender, and it's packed with action that moves so quickly neither the actors nor the audience can really catch a breath, which is a good move if your plot is shaky to begin with.

As with the best deep-space movies, the context is mental illness, what the Professor on Gilligan's Island called, oddly enough, "island madness." Only in space. In the distant, distant future, a ship has been sent from the Earth carrying a lot of people, headed to the only Earth-like planet ever found. Sometime during the journey, things go awry. We pick up the story as an astronaut named Bower (Ben Foster) awakens from hypersleep, abruptly; he's soon followed by his commanding officer, Payton (Dennis Quaid). The rest of the crew is gone, and the only door is locked from the outside. What's happened here? Making matters more difficult is the amnesia that each man suffers from, owing to their having been in hypersleep way longer than intended. Somehow, they must piece together what has happened and find out what lies behind that door - and throughout the rest of the gigantic ship.

Not only does the movie recall Aliens and 2001, you can also see similarities to The Descent and The Abyss; really, any movie in which people are trapped in claustrophobic environs. And although the pacing is frenetic at times, the movie is really chillingly shot (by Wedigo von Schultzendorff). On the one hand, the plot flows linearly - Bower needs to get to the ship's reactor so he can reboot it and save everyone - meaning that the actors race from scene to scene, running out of time. On the other hand, they don't piece together what's happened as quickly as they might in other, lesser films; they seem to figure things out gradually, as if assembling a puzzle in their heads. Bowers and others - and there are others - discover right away, though, that they're not really alone on the ship and that their enemies are extremely strong and fast and vicious.

Injected into this oh-my-goodness-what's-out-there madness is, well, madness. The movie's title is explained as being a sort of mental illness that affects astronauts from time to time, when they just plain go bonkers for seemingly no reason and kill everyone on board. Is that's what's happening here? Is Bower the crazy one? Or is it Payton? Are they, in fact, alone on the ship? Foster is excellent as the hero who remembers a little bit more of their mission as time elapses; Quaid, in turn, shows a few more layers than we're accustomed to seeing from him (he's usually more of a poor man's Harrison Ford). Both actors turn in convincing, full-throated performances that complement, rather than succumb to, the special effects and cinematic wizardry. Often, the effects are the entire show. Now, it's true that you won't see a lot of character development here, as you might in the most cerebral of sci-fi, but what works best here is the paucity of knowledge about the situation and the characters. By spinning the tale gradually, feeding the audience only a snippet at a time, director Christian Alvart dangles the mystery in front of his viewers without allowing them to settle back and solve the mystery on their own. When you're constantly kept on your toes with sudden lurches of unseen shapes and reverberating noises, you - like the befuddled characters - are concurrently kept off balance. The result is an unsettling, entertaining delight.

Reviewed by TheDeadMayTasteBad 7 / 10

Pandorum: A terrifying and atmospheric, if flawed, sci-fi odyssey.

Anybody wanting an intelligent, insightful, or mesmerizing motion picture should readjust they're expectations before walking into Pandorum. There are a few themes here that are interesting and the characters aren't dumb (some are engineers and scientists, after all), but chances are you've already seen these archetypes in countless movies already. As for whom to recommend this film to, if you enjoyed Event Horizon and/or Alien³, there's no reason why you wouldn't find anything to like in this film. However, contrary to what many people have said, Pandorum seems to resemble another film, Eden Log (a French sci-fi/horror picture), much more than either of the previously mentioned. As in Eden Log, our central characters wake up with no memory of how they came to be in their isolated environments. Likewise, they also have to explore an isolated world around them were horrible things have occurred and monsters seem to be looming. Even more interesting is that both films feature protagonists caught up in the mix of highly mysterious projects entitled "Eden." Our two main characters are Corporal Bower and Lt. Payton, played by Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid respectively. The two wake up disoriented and contained (i.e. trapped) in a small hypersleep chamber designated for the Elysium (the name of the large vessel of characters are aboard) crew of Flight Team 5. Unaware of what has happened to the other crew members the two begin to analyze their situation and Bower, being a technical/mechanical engineer, notices electrical surges throughout the ship signal that the nuclear reactor core in the Elysium is about to overload and shutdown. The two begin a makeshift mission to try to save the ship, with Bower climbing through ducts and exploring the wasteland left of the craft and Payton guiding him over a comlink and a crank-generator powered computer terminal. If you've seen any of the Alien films or played the videogames Doom or Dead Space, this should sound quite familiar.

Oh, yeah, and there's monsters aboard, though I won't reveal what these "monsters" are for potential viewers that don't know yet.

To Pandorum's credit, however, there are a few unforeseen plot twists before the credits roll. Some audience members may roll they're eyes at the ending, but I find it's a rather nice addition to the experience. Instead of a big, epic final battle with an Alien Queen, you get a heavy plot-reveal in the finale that causes some reflection upon the film. While it may be no masterpiece, Pandorum is not a bad film. 2009 has been a surprisingly good year for sci-fi thus far (Star Trek, Moon, District 9) and this certainly doesn't detract from that. In terms of horror, Pandorum should be a breath or fresh air for those who've endured films like Halloween II and The Final Destination for the past few weeks. In fact, I'd say Pandorum is the second best horror film of the year thus far, not quite matching the entertainment value or overall quality of Raimi's epic return to the genre (Drag Me To Hell).

In terms of film-making, this is a rather well put together film. The cinematography looks great with the exception of a few action sequences that go overboard with the "quick-cutting," but over-all audiences won't have to worry aboard an abundance of shaky-cam or other cons. Also, everything here is properly lit. Those who had trouble with their eyes focusing on images during Eden Log won't have that issue here. This film also doesn't meander around in complete darkness for as long.

Director Christian Alvart obviously has a lot of talent and I'm glad he directed this film as opposed to someone like, say, producer Paul W.S. Anderson. He really knows how to handle suspense and build up intense scenes. Like Neil Marshall, he can place his actors in tight, unattractive situations with monsters crawling right beside them (or vice versa) and have the audience holding their breath. Hopefully he'll garner more work in the future.

As we now know, Pandorum has tanked at the Box Office. While on one hand that's disappointing, it's not all together terrible news as the film might garner some sort of cult status in the future. In interviews only a week ago, Quaid discussed the possibilities of not only a sequel, but a trilogy following Pandorum. Not only is that seemingly impossible now, given the films performance, it additionally doesn't seem necessary. The film ends with a complete sense of closure. There's no need to see what happens after we leave this world, and such a story wouldn't resemble the experience in Pandorum in the slightest anyway.

All-in-all, the latest spacey sci-fi/horror epic has everything you could want in a "genre" picture. It's not original (admittedly, this is simply a collage of other, better films), but so little is in the 21st century. The film does feature a solid cast that deliver solid performances, thick atmosphere, several scares, a few unexpected twists, astonishing special effects and set pieces, and quite a bit of gore. If you are a fan of the sub-genre and these type of movies, you'll definitely want to check it out.

Runtime: 106 minutes (1 hr. 46 min.) Related Recommendations: It! The Terror from Beyond Space, Eden Log, Ghosts of Mars, The Descent, Event Horizon, Alien, Dante 01, Solaris, Solyaris, Aliens, Alien³, 28 Days Later

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