dir Christian Alvart
scr Travis Milloy
prd Paul WS Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Robert Kulzer, Martin Moszkowicz
with Ben Foster, Dennis Quaid, Cam Gigandet, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Eddie Rouse, Norman Reedus, Andre Hennicke, Friederike Kempter, Niels-Bruno Schmidt, Jonah Mohmand, Julian Rappe
release US 25.Sep.09, UK 2.Oct.09
09/US Constantin 1h48
Bump in the night: Traue, Foster
and Le

foster quaid gigandet
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Pandorum An appalling script is only one problem with this loud, chaotic sci-fi thriller. It's also directed in such a deliberately confusing way that it's not only impossible to follow the action, but it's impossible to care about the characters.

In the spidery space vessel Elysium, which left Earth in 2174, Bower (Foster) awakens from hiber-sleep with no memory of who he is. The ship's in trouble, and when Lt Payton (Quaid) wakes up, he doesn't remember anything either. So Bower heads into the darkened ship to try to reboot the power supply. But he soon encounters viciously murderous creatures, as well as a few lost and desperate crewmen (Traue and Le). Meanwhile, Payton finds the mercurial Gallo (Gigandet), who seems to know more than admits.

As things develop, we learn that the Elysium's mission is to repopulate a distant planet (because Earth has been worn out), that the ship has been turned into a habitat for killers and survivalists, and that a condition called pandorum, brought on by hibernation, causes paranoid madness. So if these people are mentally unhinged (and they all display symptoms), we know that we can't trust anything we see.

Not that we see much. Besides being swamped in darkness, the action is filmed with too-tight camerawork and frenzied editing that prevents us from seeing clearly. Characters speak in dialog-obscuring whispers and accents, and the set design is so overcomplicated that we're never sure what angle we're looking from. Although we do get the heavy references to both Alien and 2001, the film is actually more reminiscent of producer Anderson's loud/grisly Event Horizon.

Strangely, director Alvart proves to be no more adept at establishing suspense than Anderson. There's not a moment in this film when we're scared, because each jolt comes without any build-up. We're startled by the noise, not frightened. And while the claustrophobia is effective, the plot is so idiotic that our eyes get tired from rolling so much during the clumsy final act. But the most amazing thing about this film is how adeptly it was spoofed, 10 years before it was made, in Galaxy Quest. Maybe there's some sort of time-space anomaly at work here.

cert 15 themes, language, grisly violence 24.Sep.09

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Pandorum Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall