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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look: 16.67%
Average: 8.33%
Pretty Bad36.11%
Total Crap: 27.78%

3 reviews, 18 user ratings

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by Mel Valentin

"Pointless rehash of every sci-fi/horror genre film you've seen already."
2 stars

A joint U.S./German production, "Pandorum," a modestly budgeted science-fiction/horror film, arrived in movie theaters in late September without little buzz and minimal marketing. Overture Films refused to screen "Pandorum" for film critics. It’s usually a sign that the studio or distributor has little faith in the product they’re selling, hoping, often vainly, that moviegoers will prove their faithlessness wrong. "Pandorum" failed to bring in all but the hardest of hardcore genre fans and disappeared without a trace at the U.S. box office (it did just as badly overseas). An unoriginal storyline, an easily solvable central mystery, superficial characters, unimaginative production design (underlit to hide a limited budget), flaccid set pieces, and minimal gore (an obvious disappointment for gore hounds) all contributed to "Pandorum’s" failure at the box office.

Set more than 150 years in the future, Pandorum centers on the Elysium, a so-called “seed” spaceship (essentially a space ark), sent from Earth to the distant planet of Tanis to establish a human colony. The Elysium is the last, best hope for a humanity that’s squandered the Earth’s resources through overpopulation, environmental despoliation, and resource wars. After years in space, Corporal Bower (Ben Foster), a member of the flight crew, awakens from cryogenic suspension, with short- and long-term memory loss. Another member of the flight crew, Lt. Payton (Dennis Quaid), awakens an hour later, suffering from similar memory loss. With the Elysium depowered and access to the bridge blocked, Lt. Payton decides to stays behind in the control room and guide Bower to the bridge, where they hope to reboot the nuclear reactor powering the Elysium or, barring that, a manual override in the nuclear room located in the bowels of the ship.

Communicating with Payton via an earpiece Bower sets off alone. Almost immediately, he encounters two other survivors, Nadia (Antje Traue), who prefers to fight first and talk second, and Manh (Cung Le), a Vietnamese agricultural worker who can’t speak English, but who quickly becomes Bower’s protector as he wends his way through dark corridors toward the reactor room. Another survivor, Corporal Gallo (Cam Gigandet), awakens and joins Payton in the control room. As the recently awakened Bower soon learns, pale, noseless mutants roam the Elysium, hunting for human prey, their primary source of food. The mutants are stronger, faster, and more agile than normal humans, but they can communicate only through shrieks and growls. They pierce their bodies Road Warrior- or Ghosts of Mars-style and sleep in a communal pile.

Alvart and Milloy freely borrow (or, to be more accurate, freely steal) from Alien/Aliens (underlit corridors, monsters, sleeping chambers), The Road Warrior (character designs, especially the body piercings), Event Horizon (long, atmospheric corridors), Ghosts of Mars (mutant designs, gore), The Descent (underlit interiors, mutant designs), and I Am Legend (mutant designs again and their movements). Pandorum also shares plot elements with the recently Deadspace videogame and its straight-to-DVD prequel, Deadspace: Downfall. The comparison to Deadspace may be the most apt. With its schematic, goal-oriented storyline and multiple obstacles, Pandorum often feels like a videogame, but with one key exception: videogames are meant to be played, Pandorum was meant to be watched, passively. Without the immersive aspect that make videogames worthwhile and, of course, addictive, Pandorum’s failings become all the more evident.

Pandorum fails on almost every level: the characters are shallow and one-dimensional, the sub-plots barely developed, including the obligatory romantic sub-plot between Bower and Nadia, the mystery (or mysteries) easily solved (the audience is always 3-4 steps ahead of the characters), the suspense and tension truncated (set pieces don’t so much build as happen, almost always prematurely), the ship’s design never explained (making Bower’s journey either incomprehensible or repetitive), the obligatory goal (resetting the nuclear reactor, complete with oversized buttons), uninspired, and the final revelation, unsurprising.

What it doesn’t have story wise, "Pandorum" tries to make up with atmosphere and a few dollops of gore. Either due to budget restraints or artistic limitations (or, just as likely, both), "Pandorum" is a disappointing entry in the sub-genre. With the exception of Bower’s claustrophobic voyage through an air duct choked with cables (a birthing sequence of sorts) and one or two other scenes that actually build up tension before delivering the requisite shock or scare, "Pandorum" also fails to deliver what horror fans, at minimum, expect: the scares and shocks associated with even middling entries in the science-fiction/horror sub-genre.

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originally posted: 10/10/09 00:00:00
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User Comments

10/12/13 Wrong on so many levels read this h t t p :// 4 stars
8/19/13 Mel did not watch this movie Nadia and Bower did not have a romantic relationship as he was looking for his wife. Fail. 5 stars
12/14/11 Tim A good example of the genre - if you like deep space horror, it's good. 4 stars
7/13/11 HandBanana lol unorginal? Google "Movie Analysis: Symbolism In Pandorum" puts this review to shame. 4 stars
12/05/10 J Awesome twists - is to space colonization what splice is to genetic ethics... a MUST see! 5 stars
11/10/10 Miceal If you couldn't tell what was going on ur retarted. Awesome story. 5 stars
10/14/10 Keet Nicely done trip, keep me more interested than most crap, despite low points 4 stars
10/13/10 Lamarq I dissagree with you and all the other critics on so many levels, its not even funny. 5 stars
6/05/10 Chad Warren The Christians turn the tide against atheist/satanism bit was bold but boring. 3 stars
5/06/10 alex ahem! 2 stars
4/14/10 michael I liked it, but no way that deep space ship survived reentry 3 stars
4/11/10 sab i really liked it 4 stars
4/05/10 FranknFurter Incomprehensible! Didn't know what was happening, & could barely see--the lighting sucked. 1 stars
2/03/10 What Yeah this movie was ridiculous. I had no idea what was going on 90% of the time. 1 stars
1/25/10 action movie fan dull seen it all before copy of much better alien aliens and descent 1 stars
1/19/10 matt Decent action and twists, but bad acting and characters. I've lost respect for Dennis Quaid 3 stars
12/30/09 porfle Must be two movies called PANDORUM. I saw the one that was friggin' AWESOME. 4 stars
12/04/09 dim Lousy 1 stars
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  25-Sep-2009 (R)
  DVD: 19-Jan-2010


  DVD: 19-Jan-2010

Directed by
  Christian Alvart

Written by
  Travis Milloy

  Dennis Quaid
  Ben Foster
  Norman Reedus
  Cam Gigandet
  Antje Traue
  Cung Le

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