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Pandorum
Year:
2009
Country:
UK, Germany
Genre:
Thriller, Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Horror
IMDB rating:
6.8
Director:
Christian Alvart
André Hennicke as Hunter Leader (as André M. Hennicke)
Delphine Chuillot as Young Bower's Mother
Asia Luna Mohmand as Child Hunter (as Luna Mohmand)
Julian Rappe as Young Bower
Antje Traue as Nadia
Cung Le as Manh
Domenico D'Ambrosio as Wounded Officer 'Eden'
Eddie Rouse as Leland
Niels-Bruno Schmidt as Insane Officer 'Eden' (as Niels Bruno Schmidt)
Dennis Quaid as Payton
Cam Gigandet as Gallo
Norman Reedus as Shepard
Ben Foster as Bower
Storyline: Two crew members are stranded on a spacecraft and quickly - and horrifically - realize they are not alone. Two astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. It's pitch black, they are disoriented, and the only sound is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the ship. They can't remember anything: Who are they? What is their mission? With Lt. Payton staying behind to guide him via radio transmitter, Cpl. Bower ventures deep into the ship and begins to uncover a terrifying reality. Slowly the spacecraft's shocking, deadly secrets are revealed...and the astronauts find their own survival is more important than they could ever have imagined.
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Reviews
Slightly complicated weekend entertainment.
I rented this off of Lovefilm after seeing it as a trailer on another DVD I had received. It reminded me of Event Horizon and as a fan of sci-fi films in that style I immediately put it on my high priority list.

I can't say I was disappointed. People may say the 'zombies' that attack them are out of nowhere but there is a good reason for them being on the ship if you watch the film long enough to find out. I found myself glued to the screen as the story unfolded and I thoroughly enjoyed it up to the 'happy ending' where Ben Foster's character managed to get out of the ship taking the survivors with him.

I will definitely be buying this and I will be looking for other films of it's type too. Excellent viewing.
2010-08-30
derivative, but on its own terms it's got some chills and cool things, and acting
Watching Pandorum, it made me think back to other science fiction and as well horror movies ('horror' isn't listed as one of the genres of the film on IMDb though it should), but this is not entirely a negative for the movie itself. It has the same dark tunnels and claustrophobic lighting of the Descent and Alien (and the creatures of the Descent), it has the surreal nature of Event Horizon (as many have noted), and it has a take on humanity that is grim and cynical that has been seen in countless sci-fi. But the film also carries with it some genuinely good actors like Ben Foster, this instance playing a more heroic character instead of his usual villain, and Dennis Quaid as Peyton who is caught in the conflict of trying to help guide Foster's Bower and another man who has come out of one the tubes that has kept the astronauts in hyper- sleep.

It's a deep-on-in-space story that, by its last reel, gets pretty silly and crazy, especially once the pandorum of the title sets in. It's a disease that infects the part of the brain that goes bonkers, and this is illustrated at one point by a man on another ship years before who had it and jettisoned hundreds of people out in to space (you know, cause he thought the ship was in trouble, that sort of thing). So the basic thrust of the plot is: find who else is alive (and sane) on the ship, and try not to get killed by these ravenous mutant-radioactive- whatever men who are almost like punk-rock orcs from Lord of the Rings. At the same time there's another layer of conflict on the fact that the ship was never really meant to find another crew or look for something missing, they *are* meant to be missing crew.

Pandorum uses its 30 million dollar budget like a smart B-movie, and it shows. It's actually not as stupid or inane as any given number of sci- fi from the past several years, even as it does dip into being really stupid in certain parts (and you'll know which). And sure, the filmmakers do end up dipping into the "WHAT A TWIST!" batch in the last ten minutes or so, one of them, about the location of the ship and who really has pandorum, being a real doozy. Some of it may not even make much sense, but this disorientating feeling is part of what makes the film work. It may be more difficult to get others excited about stock characters, such as the lone ruthless a-hole survivor played by Eddie Rouse who pops up, says some exposition about what's really going on, and then captures the heroes and threatens their lives as he's a survivalist. He is a walking conventional, but Eddie Rouse is so good in the role that it's a big assist in elevating the material.

A lot of this is elevated by the players, and by some really effective cinematography that brings out the dizzy and dark nature of the ship and the places they come across, and how faces look in blue and green lights. It's like a cinematographer's fun-house, and this goes a long way in distinguishing the material as well. It's not anything truly essential in science-fiction-horror-out-in-space, but for genre fans it shouldn't come as a disappointment for all things considered. It's a good-fun-unpretentious movie about people going crazy out in space.
2010-08-17
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
2009-09-26
Better than Event Horizon
I liked Event Horizon. I like this film better because it made a little more sense in the end.

I watched it in three segments. Mostly because it was too dark for most of the film and more gore than I care for. The concept was good, the acting good, the writing good. The only flaw was in the execution.

I struggled on through the gore to find out how everything would tie together in the end. I liked the explanation of where the 'monsters' came from but found myself curious as to why genetic treatments (that were supposed to help them adapt to the new planet) caused those that were woken up early to adapt to the ship environment in those particular ways. I love the way it ends with all the undisturbed sleeper pods bouncing up out of the ocean and people sitting up and enough people surviving to still have a large, diverse, genetic population to start a viable colony.

So while I do wish so much of it wasn't so dark and dirty and gory, I still think it is a film worth watching.
2010-12-24
Best SF mix I have seen in years
I think box-office failure of this one was caused by crappy advertising. Posters are set in the tone of "Starship Troopers" or "Crank" or "Saw" and they doesn't resemble the soul of this movie. At all. So if you want to see Pandorum, but you feel stink from the posters - don't be afraid, it's only a poster. Movie is better.

In few words: Pandorum has splendid sets and design, gooooood acting (Ben Foster especially gives power to this movie), and most important - strong directing and quite good script with few kinda' freshy concepts.

The script has only one major flaw - too much talking. This story is a great pretext to create almost silent movie. It would be a challenge to tell the plot almost without talking, but I'm sure it could have been done good. And THEN we would get a fresh movie! Instead we have something more hollywoodish, but still attractive and wort watching.

Director Christian Alvart knows how to thrill. I've watched this movie on rather bad DivX copy and shitty speakers and still was climbing the armchair in few moments. Very good sense of suspense. DVD or Blue-Ray should emphasize those experiences.

But good directing isn't much when your cast is shitty. Respect goes here to Ben Foster and Denis Quaid who assist the director in gaining the right feel of the movie. Female lead Antje Traue was a nice choice too. She jumps over the over-played "strong female character" known from times of Sigounrey Weaver's Ripley and plays here in very simple, yet realistic manner. It adds some very needed reality feel to the story. In the opposite we have Eddie Rouse whose theatrical acting - either it was director's choice or his own - doesn't fit here, and spoils the mood.

To complete the picture we have here very very very good design and nicely created and lighted sets, without joy-killing "cardboard feel". It helps again the story to be more believable. But we have to remember that I watched it on DivX, so It could be worse in better quality.

This whole bunch of things is nicely photographed and edited so the final package WILL make you happy.

Summing up - be prepared for some deja-vu from time to time (for example "The Descent" [2005], "Event Horizon" [1997], "Creep" [2004]), but it's a good mix for sure and if you are looking for dark Science Fiction in the tone (tone, not level) of Alien, I definitely recommend you this title.
2010-02-27
Amazing
A roller-coaster ride from start to finish. The twists and turns keep coming.

The script, director and ensemble of actors elevate what could have been another ALIEN tribute into something highly original and compelling.

The overarching mystery kept me glued to the screen and despite everything I guessed, the ending fooled me, which is always a nice bonus for a film.

Stunning visuals and incredible SFX! Alvart has some career ahead of him! In a word: amazing!
2009-09-25
Pandorum
Earth is coming apart at the seams and a ship is commissioned, the Elysium, on the direct coordinates to newly discovered planet, Tanis which can support human life. Ben Foster has a big part as Corporal Bower, an engineer who awakens disoriented from prolonged cryo-sleep. He opens the cryo-pod of who he believes to be his boss, Lieutenant Payton(Dennis Quaid), both of a flight crew whose other members seem to be nowhere in sight. The Elysium is in bad working order and the reactor seems to be malfunctioning. For some reason, both Payton and Bower can remember their training and job capabilities fully, but have a hard time recollecting memories other than what their able to do as officers in their specific fields. The bridge's door is closed and Bower knows he must find the reactor and restore it to bring back the power and lights for the Elysium to function properly. So he will brave a darkened and particularly threatening ship with ominous signs of danger. He finds cryo-chambers empty, rotted corpses, and, even worse than he could possibly imagine, mutated cannibalistic human lifeforms with a voracious appetite. Lucky for Bower he comes in contact with survivors who have braved the elements and will assist him in finding the reactor which is located far, far away. Along with Nadia(Antie Traue), a German, and Manh(Cung Le), a Vietnamese, both equipped with impressive fighting skills(..in order to survive in a ship crawling with an army of monstrous fiends, one must defend him/herself appropriately or else wind up lunch), Bower will follow their lead and hopefully heal the ship.

Even with the synopsis I have written above, I think it's safe to say that there's plenty of surprises in store for the unadorned who have yet to see this sci-fi horror hybrid. The humanoid creatures(..their make-up effects created by Stan Winston's workshop)are a frightening brood, and the development of a type of "illness" that causes a psychological break called pandorum in the plot adds intrigue and twists which livens things up a bit. An interesting character introduced later into the film, named Gallo(played by the intense Cam Gigandet, whose appearance resembled as a baby spitting from a womb as his hand reaches out to Payton from within a collection of long black wires, soaked with oil)who seems a bit unhinged, communicates to Payton how only harm shall come to them if they do not leave the ship immediately. Quaid's character is quite an odd one. He seems very commanding and authoritative as such an officer should be, attempting to cancel out Gallo's endless negativity, a distracting noise that is detrimental to keeping focused with the task at hand. But, we see that something is causing Payton to suffer twitches, nose bleeds, and other not-so-ordinary problems causing unneeded stress. The film moves rather fast, surprising enough, once Bower aligns himself with Nadia and Manh, and their travels coincide with the arguments and tension festering between Payton and Gallo. There are lots of doors and corridors, large wires and spinning fans, the ship is vast and elongated..the detailed sets for this movie must've cost a fortune. The twist at the end regarding where the Elysium is actually located and how the ship came to be in such a disastrous state are handled effectively, I felt, and essentially we are kept in the dark as the characters are, only enlightened as the ship recuperates from near death while our heroes head for safety with the creatures in hot pursuit. I, for one, liked the ongoing sub plot involving Bower's search for his wife, who he, at first, believes to be aboard the ship somewhere. There are some really exciting combats between our heroes and mutant warriors who do not die easily. There are some really neat visual effects such as the screen for which Quaid toils with in his attempts to guide Bower to the reactor room, and the obligatory camera pan around the Elysium ship into the bridge and upon the crew as they hear the news of Earth's destruction.
2010-02-05
One of the best Sci-Fi / Horror Movies I've seen
Clever and brilliant, are the words to describe this masterpiece. A combination of several elements, from sci-fi to horror with a refreshed and genius vision of the archetypes. What I loved the most about the movie is that it doesn't give you all the answers, it let's you imagine and figure them out. The other thing that I loved is the claustrophobic ambiance and disturbing scenes folding one after the other. Just amazing. The only thing that I didn't like so much was Dennis Quaid performance, don't misunderstand me, he's a terrific actor, I just think he can do better than that. I'm giving a 9 stars to this movie. It has become one of my favorites of all times. Go watch it.
2009-11-19
Pandorum. The men after Earth.
A movie by German director Christian Alvart, whose works are marked with contradictory appraisals of critics. His previous “Antibodies” and “Case 39”, constructed as ordinary thrillers and refer-ring to such classics of this genre as “The silence of the lambs” and “The Omen”, are actually filled with totally different from classical content. This dissonance of genre and plot breeds confusion and misunderstanding. Meanwhile it absolutely fits the situation of postmodern mixed culture. All these features are crystallized in “Pandorum”. The plot. Spaceship “Elysium” (antique word, means “the country of the blessed”) is floating through the stars to the planet Tanis. Crew members wakes up without memories. They try to figure out what’s going on with the ship and they discover, that it’s filled with horrifying, carnivorous mutants and it’s reactor is about to stop. Through the narrow corridors and gloomy iron decks they sneak to the reactor, reload it and escape the ship, which all this time was on the bottom of Tanis’ sea. Kinda happy ending. Simple and ordinary scenario. But, all the screen time you’re caught by the atmosphere of claustrophobia and schizophrenia creeping upon your skin as drops of nasty water. It’s achieved by back-ground and actors’ playing. As Foster’s and Traue’s characters hiding from mutants under the layer of human bare bones or Quaid’s double personality character struggling his previous, hallucinatory identity, your mind starts to confuse itself, looking for effects of previous causes. That only increases the sense of inevitability. But this state is equalized by survival struggle scenes, when the personage of Cung Le uses martial arts to fight evil antagonists or brave girl Traue escaping them like qualified traceur. But these are only visible features. The significance. What distinguish this film from others post-apocalyptic and sci-fi movies is in-imitable philosophical contest between egotistic and altruistic motives within the human. To survive alone by killing or together by helping each other. Much closer to illustrate the Price equation, then the “WAZ”. Another side of within struggle is the question how to behave and who to be in the open space, in the emptiness, nowhere, while Earth doesn’t exist anymore. Here comes “pandorum” – a psychological disorder with it’s symptoms: memory loss, hallucinations and unmotivated violence, sharpening with the fear of inevitability. This thing leads Quaid’s personage to absolute denial, makes him say: “The god has died together with the Earth” and to become amoral monster, much similar to mutants, flooded the ship. He loses all the bounds of law, the sense of retribution, and for this he is punished by the forces of Good (sweet couple of Traue and Foster). So this is to say in spirit of Camus: “The absence of god doesn’t mean the absence of morality”. And all the bad asses should be savagely killed. This after-Earth situation, post-humanity conditions shows concluded picture of unbound mind. Nothing is left and nothing to evaluate. Alvart opens the possibility of this state and then quickly closes it with happy ending and new beginning of human’s life on Tanis. This is the way how all his films go: opening of disputable issue, complicated contest of good and evil, than settlement with the victory of good. If deduct happy ending, we’ll get Richard Kelly, twisted on Christian theology. The middle part, one for interest, one filled with reflection, is left moved away the scene. Also these half-baked mutants with nowhere taken martial arts skills… some nonsense. In whole, it represents a kind of bizarre and cruel postmodern mixture, suitable for mass show and Hollywood conveyor. P.S. enjoy the view of dirty Traue’s breasts.
2011-06-16
Parts Make Pandorum Better Than You'd Think
Part psychological thriller, part sci-fi, part ALIENS, PANDORUM is a unique hybrid. Although nothing new in terms of things we haven't seen before (encapsulate a group of men/women and see how they react), the film is strung together differently enough to hold your attention. You never really know what's around the next corner.

The story is pretty common: Earth is doomed. Spaceships are sent out to find a habitable planet. One of these ships has been lost in space for some time, and when ship's pilot #4, Bower (Ben Foster, 3:10 TO YUMA), wakes up from a prolonged hyper-sleep, much of his memory is gone or scrambled. Slowly things begin coming into focus as he finds various clues about who and where he's at. And not long after his awakening, another pod opens up and spills out Payton (Dennis Quaid, VANTAGE POINT), a high ranking officer who's memory is just as screwed up.

Bower is chosen to explore the ship, and getting out of their pod chamber is the first challenge since they're locked in for unknown reasons. Like giving birth, Bower squeezes through the canals of the ship's innards and is expelled onto what appears to be a dead ship. But he quickly runs into friends and foes. Some of the crew, it appears, have mutated and are cannibalistic. Others have had to do terrible things in order to fight and survive. All Bower wants to do is reactivate the ship's power systems and get to the bridge.

And that's about as far as I want to go without producing any spoilers....

There are several "jump-in-your-seat" moments that'll surprise the hell out of most viewers. And the darkness of the cold ship makes for some excellent atmosphere. The sound score also added a spooky quality to the production.

Ben Foster has rarely let me down in his choice of roles, and Pandorum was no exception. His embattled and continually challenged character was pitched just right throughout the film. It was also one of the first times I'd seen him as a main character and I was pleased to see it. He's a great young actor.

And I've saved the best for last: the filming. It was pretty amazing. Again, the dark qualities and claustrophobic shots were pulled off without feeling forced or contrived (something I can't say of all films ...like THE DESCENT).

Surprisingly this film got poor reviews and pretty much flopped at the box office (costing over $40 million to make but only grossing $10 million). Shame. It's actually better than you might think.
2010-02-28
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