Sunday, November 01, 2009


Year: 2009
Director: Christian Alvart
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Cam Gigandet, Eddie Rouse

There haven't been many space horror flicks that hit the mark other than the Alien series. Paul W.S. Anderson's Event Horizon comes to mind, but that one relied a lot on gore and violence, and less on suspense. Anderson now becomes producer on the latest space horror flick, Pandorum.

Pandorum takes place on a gigantic space freighter, Elysium. This spaceship is on a century long journey from Earth to a new planet, Tanis. It is carrying thousands of people seeking a new home after Earth is on near collapse due to overpopulation.

We begin with a crewmember named Bower (Ben Foster), who awakens after a long period spent in hypersleep, not remembering much about his mission, why he is on board this ship or even his own memories of himself. He awakens another man, Payton (Dennis Quaid), and together they try to work out what happened to the Elysium, which seems to be malfunctioning in many aspects.

Bower crawls out of the room they are trapped in and tries to get to the bridge. On the way, he runs into a few survivors, who seem to be armed and well prepared for hostile guests. Then he sees a large group of alien like creatures, cannibalistic and extremely violent. Bower reluctantly joins forces with the other survivors to stay alive and one step ahead of the creatures, while Payton guides him by radio through the vessel. As they progress, Bower learns a few shocking truths about the situation at hand.

So basically, Pandorum is a space thriller that combines elements from Neil Marshall's Doomsday and The Descent. If you recall, the former features wild people dressed as punks that feast on human flesh, while the latter features ugly creatures crawling about in a dark, claustrophobic environment. You'll get to see all that here. The ship is mostly dark and unlit, some spaces are narrow and tight, and the monsters look like distant cousins of the ones in The Descent. While all this may not be wholly original, it does make for a fun ride, at least for the first half.

Then when the revelations start coming in the second half, the film gets a bit messy. It does have a couple of twists that you won't quite expect, but by then the film starts to get weary, and you'll tire of it and want it to get to the end.

Foster is commendable as the main protagonist Bower, while the always reliable Dennis Quaid lends credible support as Payton. The other survivors; a girl who fights well but is mostly emotionless, a Vietnamese man who doesn't speak English, and a man who is basically the token weird guy with the weird mannerisms, are seemingly out of place in this story. I guess they aren't like Bower at all because they have been awake on the ship a lot longer than him, and have adapted to their environment, but still seeing them here is rather off-putting.

By the way, Pandorum is referred to in the film as a condition where someone suffers from paranoia and reacts violently due to extreme stress after being in space for long periods. This condition is happening to one of our protagonists, and therein lies the surprise.

Overall, director Christian Alvart did a decent job here. It won't stand toe to toe with Alien and its sequels, but it's worth a watch. (3.5/5)

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