Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Pandorum

directed by Christian Alvart

Pandorum poster  
In some ways the claustrophobia, isolation and darkness of deep space make it the perfect setting for horror. On the flip side, this is so overused that it's only when things don't go disastrously wrong on long space journeys that there's any kind of surprise any more.

The Elysium is a vast starship, launched in 2174 to take settlers away from an unbearably overcrowded Earth. Their destination is Tanis, a newly-discovered habitable planet that seems ideal for colonisation. Colonel Bower (Ben Foster) wakes up from hypersleep only to find out that things on the Elysium have indeed gone wrong. He's a member of one of the flight teams, but no-one from the previous team is around to greet him. The lights are flickering, power is failing, and he can't remember a thing.

Bower wakes Lt. Payton (Dennis Quaid), but Payton is also suffering from amnesia caused by the extended hypersleep. The two of them try to figure out what happened to the rest of the crew, and attempt to work out how to fix the power. But not all of the doors are opening. Bower crawls through service ducts and creeps through dark corridors, trying to find out more. But pretty soon bodies turn up, and there's screaming, running, and hungry creatures stalking whoever is left. As Bower's memories return to him he realises the ship's condition is more critical than he first thought, and much more is at stake than a few flickering lights.

The atmosphere is already chilling when Bower just happens to ask about the symptoms of pandorum, a hypersleep disorder that leads to paranoia and insanity. So we're left wondering whether the monsters are all imaginary, and whether Bower and Payton are about to endanger everyone else on board as a result of their delusions.

Pandorum is a terrifically macho film. People tend to greet each other with a fist in the face, and they fight whether there's a reason to or not. Quite a lot of martial arts are involved, as well as a smattering of splashy gore.

The story is enjoyable, particularly if your tastes veer towards intense, manly horror with a lot of violence. In ways I can't discuss here in detail because of spoilers, the plot doesn't stand up to much scrutiny. It's one of those movies that works as long as you don't stop to think about things like science, or sensible operating procedures, or reasonable failsafes. Forget all that. Pandorum is visceral, fast-paced and terrifying, and it's most effective if you don't think too hard about how absurd some of it is.

15th April 2010

Film Details

Year: 2009

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 15

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3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson