Pandorum is part of those great SF/horror flicks that unfortunately never got the success they deserved. I don’t like that, so here’s a critic that will make you want to see it !
Released in 2009 in complete anonymity, Pandorum tells the story of Bower (Ben Foster) who wakes up in a spaceship called Elysium (no link with Neill Blomkamp’s film) after a period of cryosleep. The trouble is : he doesn’t remember anything. The Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid) then wakes up, and he seems to have a big blank too… The two men will find out soon that something went terribly wrong in that ship…
Alien, AlienS, Event Horizon, The Descent, the video game Dead Space… Pandorum seems to have drawn its inspiration in all the classics of horrific SF. Is that a bad thing ? No ! All the more so it doesn’t forget to put it’s own personality, it’s own soul in a way. Talking about soul, we find it in our main characters : Bower is played by Ben Foster (those who have seen 30 Days Of Night know how talented he is), very good in the role of this reluctant hero, and the same goes for Dennis Quaid, his character is the pilar of the story and is at the heart of an absolutely great twist that I won’t reveal here cause I’m a nice guy. But THE revelation of the film is Antje Traue ! A german actress that you’ve probably seen last year in Man of Steel in the role of Faora. In Pandorum, she carries the film on her shoulders. By the way, it’s funny to notice that, if the main character is « officialy » Bower (Ben Foster), it’s Antje Traue who is highlighted on the promotionnal posters (not the one I’ve put at the begining of this article, it’s juste an arm guys…). This is one of the best qualities of Pandorum : the characters are really interesting and we don’t need to make an effort to get attached with them, it’s instinctive. Admit that it changes from these stupid and inexpressive boneheads we usually have in this kind of films !
As I said at the beginning, Pandorum is an SF/horror flick, what does-that mean ? It means Monsters, Gore, Intensity and Suspense ! No problem, the MGIS is respected according to the letter ! The monsters evoke the humanoids from The Descend as well as some creatures from Dead Space, classic but effective, all the more so the make-up effects are extremely well made. About the gore aspect, the film is smart enough to not turn into a torture porn, but some deaths are still very graphics, so maybe you’ll close your eyes sometimes ! Now let’s talk about the script, it is very well thought and often surprising, allowing the rhythm to be intense and rapid, with no dead time. Last but not least, the film deals with some psychological themes in a very effective way : claustrophobia, paranoia and schizophrenia are indeed the raw material of Pandorum. And the director Christian Alvart achieves to make us feel every of these states thanks to his directing, it’s real art !
In brief, if you wanna live an adventure without dead time, with attaching characters, ruthless creatures and a smart script, go watch Pandorum ! To me it’s really a reference of horrific SF. So sad to know that we’ll never get the trilogy Christian Alvart intended to make… 😥