Mania Grade: B-
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- DVD: Pandorum
- Rating: R
- Starring: Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster
- Written By: Travis Milloy
- Directed By: Christian Alvart
- Distributor: Anchor Bay Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: 2009
- Extras: See Below
Pandorum DVD Review
Flawed Space Epic in Pandorum.
By Tim Janson
January 17, 2010
Randy Quaid is over the edge in Pandorum
© Anchor Bay Home Entertainment
In the far future of 2174, an overpopulated Earth sends out a massive space ark called the Elysium, on a 123 year journey to the planet Tanis where they hope to start a new world. Aboard the ship is some 60,000 passengers in suspended animation and thousands of DNA samples of Earth’s species. Two of the ship’s flight crew, Bower (Ben Foster) and Payton (Dennis Quaid) awake to find the ship seemingly empty of the rest of the crew and with the ship’s power nearly exhausted.
As Payton tries to get the ship’s controls operating, Bower explores the ship. He finds several bodies horribly mutilated and the ship infested with a savage humanoid creatures that look like cyber Orcs. Bower finds a couple of other survivors who were part of various science teams including Nadia who worked in genetics. Bower tries to figure out what happened to the rest of the ship’s crew and also attempts to reset the ships nuclear core before power shuts down for good.
When Bower and Payton first awake, they discuss Pandorum, a psychological condition caused by extended periods of suspended animation and its effects, including severe paranoia, hallucinations, and homicidal tendencies. However by discussing this, it automatically sets off all sorts of alarms to the viewer. It ends up giving away, or at least strongly hints at the film’s major plot twist. It’s unfortunate because Pandorum has a lot of good things going for it. It’s concept of Earth on the brink of destruction due to overpopulation and dwindling resources is a singly terrifying thought.
The Elysium is essentially a futuristic Noah’s Ark, carrying the hope of mankind to a new world. But that idea is a lot more interesting than the numerous chases and fights that take place with savage mutants aboard the ship. What could have been a thought-provoking sci-fi epic too often becomes a standard action film. The film is book-ended by some great scenes but is all too run-of-the-mill in the middle.
While Quaid gets top billing its Ben Foster that gives the strongest performance. Foster, who has starred in genre films such as The Punisher, X-Men: The Last Stand, and 30 Days of Night, plays a smart hero with depth of character instead of two-dimensional machismo. Quaid is almost always enjoyable but I thought he was being wasted in this film, essentially chained to one set for most of the film but he provides a good payoff in the end. On top of that, here is a sci-fi film that refreshingly doesn’t rely on a lot of visual effects.
The influences on Pandorum are evident…Alien, Event Horizon, The Abyss, but there’s enough here to make it stand on its own merits. An interesting if flawed film.
Audio Commentary with Director Christian Alvart and Producers Jeremy Bolt
The World of Elysium a detailed, behind-the-scenes featurette
What Happened to Nadia’s Team – A look at what happened to the rest of Nadia’s genetics research team
Flight Team Training Video
Deleted and alternate scenes