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  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of Shaw)

Genre: Thriller
Director: Christian Alvart
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Cam Gigandet, Norman Reedus, Cung Le, Antje Traue, Eddie Rouse, Yangzom Brauen
RunTime: 1 hr 48 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: TBA
Official Website: http://www.pandorummovie.com/

Opening Day: 15 October 2009


Two astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a spacecraft. It’s pitch black, they are disoriented, and the only sounds is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the spacecraft. They can’t remember anything – who they are, what is their mission? They only way out of the chamber is a dark and narrow airshaft. Corporal Bower, the younger of the two, crawls inside, while the other Lt. Payton, stays behind for guidance on a radio transmitter. As Bower ventures deeper and deeper into the ship, he discovers that he and Payton are not alone. Slowly the spacecraft’s shocking and deadly secrets come unraveled, and the astronauts realize that the survival of mankind hinges on their actions.

Movie Review:

The first sign that this was going to be a flop was when the movie opened with a cheesy soundtrack. And things didn’t let up from there.

Christian Alvart, who made the terrifically twisty serial killer thriller Antibodies, disappoints big time in his American debut. I couldn’t help but wonder if Alvart actually directed Pandorum as his Antibodies is in another class of its own. With this movie, Alvart seems to have joined fellow cult European directors who’ve 'sold out' to the mainstream when they get to Hollywood. One case in point is Haute Tension’s Alexandre Aja who went on to make the vastly inferior Mirrors and The Hills Have Eyes.

Pandorum played like a greatest hits album of the sci-fi genre, only a pale version. Pilfering from about a half-dozen subplots from other sci-fi movies shamelessly, director Christian Alvart cobbled them into a steaming pile of convoluted hokum that tried to straddle lofty themes about God and evolution. Its back story about humans needing to escape from an increasingly inhospitable Earth and hibernate in a gigantic spacecraft was coincidentally reminiscent of the premise in WALL.E, but had none of its sophisticated elucidations.

The plot also went off in a few different directions. It couldn’t decide if it wants to be a gory creature flick or a 'Mad Max' type of adventure or an introspective psycho-thriller about the devious effects of the space travel phenomenon called "Pandorum". By the end, none of the narrative threads were satisfyingly explained and resolved. The result is a head-scratcher that left me as clueless at the major letdown of an ending as at the start of the movie.

To enjoy a film of such, thrills are no doubt the most important aspects. Aside from the handful of cliché "Boo!" moments courtesy of annoyingly loud sound effects, it didn’t offer any inventive scares. None of the action and fighting scenes stood out and they came across as pedestrian. Tension and suspense were almost non-existent.

Equally frustrating were the movie’s low production values. Although the giant spacecraft looked passably menacing, the special effects looked cheap and the mutants looked unconvincing, like recycled props from other B-grade films. The action hardly quickens your pulse as you’ll spend a great deal of time figuring out what’s going on in the dark. Much of what should have been visible was hampered by bad lighting, erratic editing and clumsy choreography. The production crew obviously didn’t take heed from Filmmaking 101 class.

The cast gave uniformly wooden performances but were suitably frazzled. Even the normally compelling Dennis Quaid seemed to be sleepwalking through his thankless role as the suspicious Lieutenant Paxton. Maybe these were signs that they were aware this schizophrenic wreckage of a movie is headed for doom. And yes, the movie tanked at the U.S. box office recently.

Of all the movie’s disastrous elements, the script had to be the most dismaying. The dialogue was cumbersome, corny and crammed with indecipherable mumbo-jumbo. The best thing I can say about Pandorum is it can actually make you feel that you can write a more decent script with your eyes half-closed.

Just one Uwe Boll in the B movie world is enough.

Movie Rating:

(You’re better off re-watching sci-fi classics like Aliens, The Abyss or even the cult favourite Pitch Black than wasting your time and money on this glorious misfire)

Review by Adrian Sim


. Moon (2009)

. Terminator Salvation (2009)

. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

. Planet Terror (2007)

. Starship Troopers 3: Marauder DVD (2008)


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