Pandorum (2009)

2466_galStarring: Ben Foster, Dennis Quaid, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Cam Gigandet

Directed by: Christian Alvart

R. 94 mins

An intensely grim spectacle, Pandorum has all the trappings of an epic science fiction thrill-ride, but lacks a truly innovative spark beneath its muddled premise.

After awakening from a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a space craft traveling somewhere in deep space, astronauts Lt. Payton (Dennis Quaid) and Corporal Bower (Ben Foster) discern that they may be the only ones left on this mysterious spacecraft. With sinister noises that can be heard throughout the ship and no memory of their mission, the survivors travel deeper into the ship only to discover that they are not alone. What began as a mission to save the citizens of Earth, a-la Noah’s Ark, has gone terribly wrong and now Bower and Payton must race against time and other cannibalistic travellers in order to survive this dystopian nightmare.

Produced by the team that brought us Resident Evil and directed by Christian Alvart (Antibodies), Pandorum feels like quite an intriguing blend of Alien-meets-The Descent. The horror elements are alarming, to be sure, while the science-fiction elements should appease fans of the genre. Unfortunately, production elements can’t save the picture from simply trying too hard to amaze us at each turn – the result is uninspired and often, difficult to endure. Quaid and Foster, intensely engaging as always, do their best to propel things forward with conviction but even strong performances fail to shine in the underdeveloped narrative. The first half of the film builds a palpable sense of dread, but the second half is composed of far too many action sequences with reveal after reveal, resulting in a hardly graceful denouement. With so much inspiration from other films, it’s clear that there’s just far too many themes at play and not enough time spent on developing a strong, singular, message. The film aims to scare us, but it also wants us to think –  an ambitious plan that renders much of the narrative quite thin. Characters, and more importantly, ideas, get lost in the murky atmosphere of Pandorum – a memorably chilling, but frustratingly cheap loss of potential.

 

 

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