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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.81%
Worth A Look: 16.22%
Average: 10.81%
Pretty Bad35.14%
Total Crap: 27.03%

3 reviews, 19 user ratings

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by brianorndorf

"The future is the past"
2 stars

“Pandorum” is primarily sponsored by claustrophobia and glow sticks. Created with slippery, slicing European instincts, this sci-fi/horror voyage into the dark recesses of the mind is perhaps best appreciated with the sound off. A gorgeous production design can’t save the picture from trying too hard to dazzle with very little inspiration, and while “Pandorum” is easy to stare at, it can be a seriously punishing sit.

Forcefully awoken out of hyper-sleep, astronauts Bower (Ben Foster) and Payton (Dennis Quaid) are left with little memory and power to help acclimate them to life onboard a massive spaceship heading to an unknown destination. Sent to restart the power source, Bower crawls into the bowels of the ship with only minimal light to guide him. Instead of help, Bower stumbles upon a group of warrior-types who are trying to elude a mob of killer mutant creatures multiplying throughout the ship. As for Payton, he has to deal with a paranoid crew member (Cam Gigandet) who might be lost in the throes of “Pandorum,” a special form of madness that turns his initial confusion into a major threat.

Directed by Christian Alvart (“Antibodies”), “Pandorum” is more easily described as a riff on the 1997 chiller, “Event Horizon.” Both films share a curiosity with deep space madness and the isolation of interstellar travel, observing characters hurtling toward the unknown, facing horrors both real and imagined. While “Horizon” was a more literal descent into Hell, “Pandorum” itches to play deadly mind games and flop around in mutant spit.

Alvart shows a promising eye for forbidding spaces, shoving the audience into impossibly tight confines and encouraging his actors to freak their way out. If there’s anything to admire about “Pandorum,” it has to be Alvart’s obsession with depicting discomfort and panic, getting the characters into narrow situations that immediately lack sufficient air flow. However, that’s the last of my appreciation, as “Pandorum” is all too eager to engage in hysteria to cover the holes in the script.

Wearing his Ridley Scott cape, Alvart aims for a coolly stylish look to “Pandorum,” with hard cinematography, steamy hallways, and strange light sources joining together to add a layer of menace to the tale. Ostensibly a monster movie, “Pandorum” is better off as an obvious haunted house experience, with liberal usage of shock jumps and gore to keep viewers on their toes, but it never terrifies. There are a few futuristic touches that keep things interesting, but the majority of the film is Bower dodging ghouls, running around the cavernous ship on the hunt for power. At least with the mutants, “Pandorum” is numbingly predictable. Once it goes inside the mind, it just gets embarrassing.

While everyone looks the part, the casting flatlines quickly. Watching Foster’s bug-eyed, clenched-jawed performance is almost comforting in its inevitability -- the actor always gravitates toward roles that require painfully obvious, showy behaviors. Quaid does his grunt routine with limited effort. It’s Gigandet who smashes the film to bits, offering an agonizingly vacant performance for perhaps the most crucial character of the feature. His limited abilities are stretched beyond comfort, with Alvart displaying more effort timing out his strobe lights than keeping Gigandet panicked within reason. I never thought I’d see the day when it wasn’t Foster ruining a movie.

The who? The what? The where? “Pandorum” enjoys a healthy portion of sci-fi twists and turns as the production reaches for a fitting finale. I didn’t buy the closer, but at least Alvart is finally trying to challenge the audience beyond spooky, sweaty beasts jumping into the camera. A derivative production from the get-go, “Pandorum” loses steam with every forward step, leaving the conclusion more welcome for its finality than its resolution.

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originally posted: 09/25/09 23:15:20
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User Comments

3/25/18 morris campbell decent no more no less 3 stars
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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