Director – Christian Alvart
Cast – Ben Foster, Dennis Quaid, Cam Gigandet, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Eddie Rouse, Norman Reedus
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Finally! Unfortunately I did not rush to theaters to view this film(I wanted to, but never could), and before I knew it this film was out of theaters. Now that I have had the chance to give this flick a watch I really wish I had experienced this one on the big screen. I am an obvious fan of creature oriented films, as well as space oriented films. With that, you can see why I was so interested in giving this one a watch. Thankfully, this was a very fun and positive watch that goes to show every now and then a great creature flick can come from the depths of Hollywood(aka, Hell) and give us genre fans what we want to see.
“Pandorum” stars Ben Foster as Bower, a flight mechanical engineer who awakens from hyper sleep to a dark and empty ship. Earth has used of all of it’s resources, and a ship containing scientists and civilians has been sent to another planet after images of plant life on the planet surfaced. Luckily for Bower, he is not alone. He locates his superior, Payton(Dennis Quaid),who has just awaken from hyper sleep. Payton also has no clue as to why the ship seems so deserted, and why the power is off. Bower ventures off with Payton coordinating his search for the ship’s power source as well as any other survivors. All is quiet at first, but soon enough Bower comes in contact with something that is far from human, very quick, and armed to the teeth with some very sharp objects. The two survivors now have an even bigger problem on their hands, one that could keep them from never leaving the ship.
Wow, as if this film could not sound any cooler, it takes off right away and hardly lets up. Right from the get go we are thrown into the same dark chaos Bower is thrown into, and with amazing atmosphere. I must really applaud director Christian Alvart(“Case 39”) for this. Each set looked amazing, and perfect lighting only exemplified the already creepy atmosphere. I love when films give me a very high production value, and this flick does just that. Think of the incredible sets from “Event Horizon”, yeah, that good. The long winding tunnels and numerous dark corners set up some great scares, and the fact that our protagonists are stuck in space brings in that one element I also speak so highly off…the “nowhere to run” element. This flicks visuals were amazingly done, and the biggest reason behind why I truly wish I had seen this film in theaters.
As you can tell, Christian Alvart’s direction is top notch. I was quite surprised given this guy does not have a lot of films under his belt, but with “Case 39” getting mostly positive reviews I can see this guy becoming a well known name in the horror genre if he puts out another great watch. Thanks much in part to the film’s visuals, a testament to his direction, the pacing is very well done. Never one did my eyes leave the screen, and that tells me a lot about this guy. We get a fair amount of gore, and some pretty sweet looking kills. Naturally, because much of the chaos has already happened by the time these guys awake we do not get a lot of kills, but the ones we do get are fulfilling. What really surprised me was that we got a fair amount of action as well. The first half comes out as an outright horror/sci-fi flick, while the second half gets all “Aliens” on us and goes to action/sci-fi. Honestly, I did not have a problem with that whatsoever, I enjoyed it. The look of the creatures was pretty sweet as well, with their insane mannerisms the icing on the cake. Think “The Descent”…on steroids.
The storyline is a sweet one, and I thank writer Ben Foster for that. I was very surprised to see that Mr. Foster had no big writing credits behind his name, only writing two mediocre films prior to this one. The film develops perfectly, adding scares and plot/character development at just the right times. To top this off, the ending sequence is one that I never saw coming.
Although it is quite obvious I truly enjoyed this film, it did have one major flaw. I absolutely hated the use of the character Gallo. I can see how he added some diversity to the film’s plot, and in all honesty could have used a bit of diversity unless you are happy with it being an outright creature feature as I was. Nonetheless, this “diversity” came at a price and in my opinion detrimented from the film. Thankfully this only occurs for about 20-30 minutes towards the end of the film, but it still did enough to leave me unforgiving of it. I was really disappointed in this because I originally wanted to give this film an 8-rating, but I could not forgive this element, and that is why this film received the rating I gave it. Had this been a little thing I most likely would have forgiven it and let the rest of the film’s awesomeness absorb the negative, but this was big to me, too big to forgive.
Overall, this is an awesome creature feature that I recommend to all fans of the genre and creature sub-genre. If you loved films like “Event Horizon” and “Aliens” then you should have no problem enjoying this one. Do not let my one rant on this film keep you from giving it a watch, this film is awesome.