Pandorum (2009) — Event Horizon’s spiritual successor

“You’re all that’s left of us. Good luck, God bless, and godspeed.”

Justin’s rating: Keep track of every time they say “flight crew.” It has to be in the hundreds.

Justin’s review: They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but often we judge an unwatched movie based on its poster or box art. Pandorum kept skipping off the surface of my attention for years because its poster — a human arm with tubes coming out of it — told me virtually nothing about this film or intrigued me enough to see it. I wonder how many other people it confused and repulsed, because what we actually get is a taut, creepy scifi thriller that’s more than arms and tubes.

Two crewmembers (Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster) wake up in a large colony spaceship that’s the last hope of an annihilated Earth — but all is not right. For one thing, they seem to be alone, despite this craft hauling 60,000 people. For another, the ship is malfunctioning in a bad way. And we should probably mention that the flight crew both have partial amnesia and there are mutant cannibals roaming about and all of the survivors are a little cooked in the noggin.

It’s not a good day to wake up from hypersleep, let’s just say that.

This right here is survival horror set on a high-tech haunted house, which is more than enough to get me to show up. Pandorum raises a whole lot of questions — especially due to unreliable memories and perceptions — in its first act that it gradually gets around to explaining to various degrees of audience satisfaction. The ship holds the backstory of the events leading up to the first scenes in the movie — and the possibility of correcting everything that’s gone so wrong. It’s definitely not a cozy, welcoming type of spaceship, but more reminiscent of the Nostromo from Alien or, well, the Event Horizon from Event Horizon. It’s the kind of place that the architects made assuming that sooner or later hell would be unleashed inside of it.

The only part that I really didn’t like was the reliance on the mutants (and no, I’m not going to spoil how this ship got mutants in the first place). They’re not that interesting and come across as the same kind of generic monster threat that zombies assume in other films. It’s just something to keep our heroes on the run, justify some fight scenes, and to kill the occasional extra every now and then. Honestly, this could’ve been a better movie without them.

At least the mutants are counter-balanced by Foster and Quaid, both of whom turn in good performances. Dennis Quaid is one of my favorite actors, and I had no idea he was even in this until he popped out of a hypersleep chamber. He’s got the kind of face and intense voice that is mesmerizing.

Pandorum really deserved a better shot than it got, especially with Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil, Soldier) influencing it as its executive producer. I love a good survivalist story, and as I watched this, I got the feeling it would have equally made a pretty decent scifi novel. I mean, waking up on a generational ark ship without a clue what’s happened is pretty compelling stuff, and I was glad to go along for the ride. Definitely an underrated film ripe for discovery.

One comment

  1. I thought Pandorum was an interesting movie. It was kind of a passerby in my opinion. Nothing too awesome happens and I feel like the horror element gets abandoned pretty quickly. Its one of those grade C horror flicks.

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