Review by Jack Foley
IN A year in which science fiction has generally excelled (with Moon and District 9), it’s disappointing to find that Pandorum doesn’t quite manage to reach the same standards.
Christian Alvart’s movie is entertaining in a popcorn kind of way but it’s far too derivative of better movies to really stand out on its own.
The story picks up in deep space in the future, as Corporal Bower (Ben Foster) and Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid) awake from suspended animation to find themselves in an apparently empty ship.
Confused and with little memory of their mission, the duo also find themselves trapped within a small room on the ship.
As Bower finds a way out to investigate, it soon becomes clear that he’s not alone… creatures roam the decks and attack at ferocious speed and a small band of survivors (led by Antje Traue’s Nadia) attempt to resist.
Payton, meanwhile, is encountering his own rapidly evolving scenario with another former crew member who may be suffering from pandorum, a condition that afflicts those who have experienced too much deep sleep.
To be fair, Alvart’s movie is brimming with ideas and works on both a visual and psychological level. It’s tense, claustrophobic, exciting in places and contains a couple of decent twists.
But it also borrows too heavily from the likes of The Descent, Alien and Event Horizon without ever settling on what type of film it really wants to be.
As such, the final third of the movie feels rushed, under-explained and in need of a killer ending… as well as underwhelming.
Of the performances, Foster stands out in a deserved leading man role, Quaid is his usual reliable self as the lieutenant and Traue displays a great deal of athleticism in the obligatory Ripley role.
Alvart – who made a name for himself with German thriller Antibodies – also exhibits enough nice touches to suggest he’s capable of making the switch to Hollywood blockbusters.
But still you suspect there’s more to Pandorum than we’re seeing on-screen and a director’s cut may yet reveal more of the mysteries surrounding the screenplay.
In current form, the film is an effective chiller that delivers on the violence and suspense without ever realising its intellectual potential. But you get the feeling it could have been so much more…
Running time: 110mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: February 15, 2010