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Fairly standard sci-fi, elevated by great atmosphere and Ben Foster

  • Aug 7, 2010
There's nothing terribly new in PANDORUM. It's 150 years in the future, and the earth is dangerously overpopulated, and have sent a gigantic spacecraft into space with 16,000 people in suspended animation, with the idea of reaching a new planet that looks suitable for human life and saving the human race. But things haven't gone exactly right...a disease that causes madness (the titular Pandorum) has ravaged much of the crew and many of the people on the ship have evolved into super-tough but super-ugly mutants (they reminded me of the cavedwellers in THE DESCENT).

So a small (very small) rag-tag group tries to start the power back up on their ship while surviving the creatures, pandorum and each other. Squishy mayhem ensues.

A few things distinguish PANDORUM. The art direction is impeccable. The spacecraft is a fully realized maze of cabling, containers, steel and mucky liquid. With outstanding lighting design, we are often only able to see tiny bits of the ship at a time, forcing us to experience the dim hallways and gangways just as the frightened survivors do. Again, the idea of a dark, cavernous ship can be traced directly back to ALIEN (and probably back from there)...but this setting still can create an excellent sense of claustrophobia. And you never know where or when something will leap.

I also enjoyed the performance from Ben Foster as Corporal Bower. Foster is an interesting actor, always adding a twist of craziness to his performances, from SIX FEET UNDER to 40 DAYS OF NIGHT to 3:10 Tor O YUMA. Here he doesn't so much play crazy as frantic and scared. But he brings more to his underwritten and uninspired role that most actors would manage. He's just more fun to watch than most actors would be in this part. I also liked Antje Traue in the even more underwritten role of "the tough fighting girl who works alongside our hero." She looks physically convincing enough, like a German Rhona Mitra. Dennis Quaid is given top billing, but really has little to do for most of the film. He's mostly collecting a paycheck here...not his fault though. The script by Travis Milloy is strictly by the books.

The film holds a couple of modest surprises as it reaches its climax. But they hardly turn the genre on its head either. This is a film that looks good...but mostly that's it. The fight scenes are appropriately bloody and noisy...but we've seen it all before. The special effects are quite competent, but are hardly boundary stretching. In the end, I'd say this is a film for fairly hard-core sci-fi action fans who don't mind an unoriginal story. Or members of the Ben Foster fan club, if there is such a thing.

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October 13, 2010
This was alright for me I guess; then again, I saw this movie after I saw SURROGATES LOL! so it made the experience a lot easier. :) nice review.
More Pandorum (2009 movie) reviews
review by . September 27, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
      Since the inception of “Alien”, there have been many attempts at a cross-blending in genres of science fiction and horror. I guess there is just nothing scarier than being stuck in space with no place to run to. “PANDORUM” is a collaboration between American and German filmmakers to make a sci-fi horror film. Directed/co-written by Christian Alvart (Anti-Bodies) with screenplay by Travis Milloy, the film is full of slick European claustrophobic atmosphere …
review by . February 10, 2010
Deceptively Good,
At first glance, Pandorum looks just like the mediocre sci-fi horror films that have hit theaters over the past few years.  With a lackluster trailer and a not so great marketing campaign, it was shocking when I found myself actually enjoying the film.  From the minute the main titles rolled, Pandorum brought me back to 1997's Event Horizon, a film that will forever in my opinion be the scariest movie of all time.  With dark, broody, almost steampunk like sets, I was geared up to …
review by . September 30, 2009
   of money, time and talented actors. A movie made w/o lights. CG that looked like a videoi game. Quick cut action so you couldn't see or tell what was happening. Stay home.
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I've got my own site,, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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About this movie


Poster art for "Pandorum."

Pandorum is a 2009 science fiction horror film written by Travis Milloy and directed by Christian Alvart. The film stars Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster. Filming began in Berlin in August 2008. Pandorum was released on September 25, 2009 in the United States, and on October 2, 2009 in the UK.

An astronaut, Corporal Bower (Ben Foster), wakes up from suspended hibernation to find himself alone, with no memory of who he is, what he is doing, or what happened to the crew of the 60,000 passenger sleeper ship, Elysium. He proceeds to wake up Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid), who is also suffering from memory loss. They are unable to access the ship's bridge and cannot communicate with any other members of the crew, including the flight crew team who they are supposed to relieve.

While exploring the spacecraft under Payton's radio guidance, Bower talks with Payton about Pandorum, a psychological condition brought on by extended periods of deep-space travel and hyper-sleep. Its symptoms and effects include severe paranoia, vivid hallucinations, and homicidal tendencies. Payton tells of another ship in which a single flight crew member, affected by Pandorum, jettisoned every crew member into space, killing five thousand.

As Bower continues on, he encounters dead bodies and fast-moving humanoid creatures. Escaping from one of them, he then encounters other human survivors, Manh (Cung Le) and Nadia (Antje Traue); they work together to reach the ship's nuclear reactor. Bower...

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Director: Christian Alvart
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 25 September 2009 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Travis Milloy
DVD Release Date: January 19, 2010
Runtime: 108 minutes
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
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