Ok, let me start by saying that I actually enjoyed Pandorum as a movie. It was tense, fast paced, and had a plot that really could hook people. Despite what I am about to say, it's probably one of the better sci-fi/horror hybrids out there. Given that the options for this odd genre are limited to such movies as Event Horizon, I can't help but imagine that is much of a compliment.
So this movie does a lot. By a lot, I mean that it's genuinely hard to keep track of at times. This movie starts out as what would happen if the reavers from Firefly decided to take over a ship. In other words, we have scary, creepy humanoid stalking and eating the normal humans on the ship. The tension is furthered by the fact that no one remembers anything, struggling with even remembering their own names. The survival horror was kinda cool as a starting point, but it gradually shifted into an action flick where people were killing the monsters. Still, that was fine, even if it did remind me a bit too much of Resident Evil. I will say that it was rather ridiculous that I noticed a visible shift in the brightness (specifically up) when the tension shifted.
Ok, after the misplaced action craziness, it dips from survival horror to psychological horror as we explore the psyche of a person (or perhaps people) on the precipice of insanity. This was the part of the movie that I want to advocate as good cinema. There were genuine points of questioning what the hell was going on and tense questioning. The tricks they ran here were fun, and the environment felt oppressive and dark.
Then we dip into the final part of the movie...oh, the final part. This is the part that I most declare to be mixed up and crazy. So much happens that genre seems to not matter anymore. This is what I like to call 'entertainment schizophrenia.' It is a sickness which normally happens in video games, but any mixture genre can be susceptible. This is what I mean: in one scene, we go from chase, to revelation, to disgusting, to brief hope, to chase, to horror, to revelation and on and on and on. I literally thought the movie was ending 3 times before the final ending came, and even then I wasn't convinced.
Ironically, with the thematics of insanity in the movie, and why I didn't mind it as much as I normally would. Still, it made the movie confusing and more complex than it had to be. Oh, and I should probably mention here: the movie is suffering from the recent Hollywood problem of unintentional racism. Of the 6 or 7 characters who have speaking lines, we have one who is of African descent, and who is pretty far off his rocker and one who is Asian who speaks no English. The one girl with an Eastern European accent starts off crazy, making the only real rational people the white Americans. The reason I won't make a terribly big deal of this is that I don't think it was intentional. Still, it looks like Hollywood went back to the roots for horror flicks: racial minorities get the shaft.
With all the things I've listed bad about this movie, you're probably wondering why it got a 4. So here is my reason: it's got a flair of innovation. I don't mean to say it's unique: most of the tricks have been done, the storyline is not exactly a new concept, and the character concepts were tried and true. Still, there was something that was new about the way they decided to do the whole mythos. Amnesia isn't exactly new as a concept, but they made it fun. Horror on a spaceship with cannibal crazy people isn't new either, but these were decidedly different. Psychological questioning isn't new, but the perspective of Pandorum was just different enough to catch my attention. It's hard to place why, but I actually liked this movie. The twists and turns, if you can sort them out, actually offer some appeal, because I didn't see them coming. I'm not a special fan of horror, though the science fiction aspects certainly kept me entertained for a time.
So what's the final word? It's worth seeing, especially if you are a science fiction fan who enjoys some elements of survival horror. It's not especially congruous, but it bears a look. As my friend said, there are worse ways to waste an evening.
What did you think of this review?
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...