Pandorum 2010 USA/Germany
Directed by Christian Alvart
Icon DVD Region 2
I remember seeing this movie at my local cinema towards the end of last year and getting a little disappointed that it didn’t really take you anywhere new. But, I’m a sucker for shiny objects and the 3D lenticular packaging acting as a dust cover to Pandorum’s box, aided by the not inconsiderate cheap price tag, persuaded me to take another look at this movie.
When the first trailers for Pandorum came out last year, they sold this movie as being a claustrophobic and intense sci-fi tinged horror movie... a kind of The Descent among the stars. What we have here, instead, is a horror tinged sci-fi movie. And it’s really not a bad little movie, but... well if you’ve recently seen the trailer you’ll probably remember to be anxious for the first 20 mins or so... if you’ve forgotten the trailer then it probably won’t do much for you... at least not in terms of the scare factor.
The film plays out like an overextended episode of a fairly good Doctor Who... two crew members on a starship awake from suspended animation with memory loss. One of them runs around trying to get the generator started while avoiding big ferocious aliens and forming alliances with muscly ferocious non-aliens. The other struggles with his inner demons but doesn’t realise that is what he is doing until near the end.
There’s some great camera work with lighting schemes that come straight from Mario Bava and Dario Argento as seems to be the vogue again at the moment. So some standard shots saturated in either fluorescent reds or greens which show that the director might have watched Planet of the Vampires more times than was good for him.
There’s also some nice acting on show and you do actually care about what happens to the characters in this one. However, the denouement kind of lets this one down a lot... it’s not that there’s no surprise... just a sense of “seen it all before”. Modern genre cinema at the moment seems to be continually mining and retreading old 1950s scifi stories for their premise and moviemakers might want to stop to consider that... just because special effects have moved on and they can realise these old “amazing stories” really well... doesn’t mean that they necessarily should. They’ve been done to death... as the not inconsiderate Surrogates and the excessively unnecessary Avatar recently proved.
Still, there’s some nice quirky things here hiding among the cliches (love the “laser razor blade” at the start) and if you’re a die hard fan of running down dark metallic corridors and beating up monsters with sticks... then you might like this one.