Movie Review: Pandorum – A Jules Verne Adaptation

Pandorum Poster 1

Genre: Sci-Fi/Horror/Action

Director: Christian Alvart

Running Time: 108 Minutes

“You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness.”
– Thomas Sankara

The Plot

Much like many of you trying to travel with a 25kg luggage weight limit, Earth has reached her maximum carry capacity. Humanity has destroyed the planet and has found a new planet to start degrading. An interstellar ark is built to accommodate 60 000 people and an archive of earth’s fauna and flora species. The ark, named Elysium, must make the 123 year journey to Tanis. All inhabitants on board are put into a type of hyper-sleep with the flight crews on a rotation of command. This allows for minimal personnel to be awake at any given point, which allows for the lengthening of reserves.

Pandorum Elysium

Bower (Ben Foster) is woken up but finds no other crew members awake or present. The ship’s nuclear core is temperamental and needs to be manually reset. An hour after Bower’s sudden awakening, Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quiad) is brought back to the land of the waking and together they hatch a plan to explore the ship and figure out what is going on. The main door to the bridge has been sealed thus leading Bower to use the ventilation system to navigate to different parts of the ship. It soon becomes apparent that they are not the only ones awake, and that the other passengers aren’t all that friendly.

Pandorum Archive

Special Effects & Performances

I was pleasantly surprised here. I’m not a huge Dennis Quaid follower or lover but he gave a very convincing performance, and I only really remember Ben Foster as Angel in X-Men: Last Stand so that wasn’t much to go on. When I first saw this film I did so completely blind, i.e. without any information on who the actors where or what the plot was. This made all the difference. The reason I was drawn to it initially was the poster (the one with just the arm and tubes). It piqued my interest and I gave it a go. Having first watched this in 2010, Chung Le, Cam Gigandet and Antje Traue were all unknown to me. I was enthralled because it was so refreshing to go in untainted and unbiased.

Pandorum Traue & Foster.jpg

There weren’t massive explosions or the need for extensive CGI and so a lot of the film is simply set dressing and extremely meticulous make-up. The CGI that was employed looks good, with the exception of some white smoke in one of the final scenes that you can see is clearly animated.

As a sci-fi horror in a confined space, the film relied heavily on the score to build the tension and set the tone. I feel that this was superbly done. This was aided by the pallet of the film and the dressing and designs being largely mono-chromatic with brief uses of bold colour, like red, blue or green. At times the “mutants” felt a little bit Predator-y, especially when it came to their primitive weaponry, but overall I liked the creature design and the anthropological aspects that film tried to cover in it’s less than 2 hour run time.

Pandorum Mutant

The Review

Having watched this movie twice now, I cannot understand why it did so badly at the box office. There is no doubt that this film has an ardent cult following but it has all the ingredients to be a box office hit. Maybe it wasn’t marketed enough, or correctly. Who knows! Whatever the reason, I would definitely recommend that sci-fi/horror fans give it a try. The plot is not overly complicated and the science employed is reasonable. I particularly liked the inclusion of shedding old, built up skin experienced by those upon awakening from hyper-sleep. This is a simple thing, but something that earlier films, like: Alien and Pitch Black do not deal with.

Pandorum Skin

Some of the set design reminded me of Event Horizon but was different enough to ensure that it did not feel stolen. Together with the simple but fully realised plot come a few decent twists and surprises. The eerie ambiance created by the score and general background sounds makes for a fun, tension filled romp.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Buy or rent Pandorum from Amazon.

You might like:

Event Horizon

Pitch Black


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