Space: The Final Frontaaaaahhhh!!!
Science fiction and horror go very well together. Sci-fi allows horror to go into strange and different places, creating new rules, and allowing for different fears. Some people (read: nerds) prefer to have their sci-fi straight, with no horror or other genres encroaching on their dilithium crystals or borgs. While it's not always necessary, I think even a little bit of horror can make a sci-fi movie that much better. Just look at Alien, The Fly, or Event Horizon. I don't think I have reviewed a movie yet that was so steeped in sci-fi, so what better time then now?
Pandorum is a 2009 science fiction/horror/thriller starring Ben Foster (30 Days of Night, 3:10 to Yuma) as Corporal Bower and Dennis Quaid (Far From Heaven. G.I. Joe) as Lieutenant Payton. In the future, Earth's population has skyrocketed in the billions, using up most of Earth's resources. A 60,000 passenger spaceship named Elysium is created to transport people, resources, and other life forms to colonize Tanis, a planet similar to Earth. Bower wakes up from his hypersleep to a dark, seemingly empty ship. He suffers from amnesia, but is able to recall who he is and why he is there. Lt. Payton also wakes from hypersleep with amnesia. The three-man flight crew they were supposed to relieve is nowhere to be found and, under Payton's direction, Bower begins to explore the ship. He asks Payton about the symptoms of Pandorum, a psychological condition similar to cabin fever. He worries that he may have Pandoum, but keeps it to himself. As he gets further in the ship, Bower encounters strange humanoid creatures. They are super fast and strong, hunting humans on the ship. He is chased by the Hunters and encounters two survivors, a Vietnamese agriculture worker named Manh and a German genetic engineer named Nadia (Antje Traue, Man of Steel). The travel deeper into the ship, heading towards the reactor, which Bower plans to restart in order to gain control. At the same time, Payton discovers another surviving crew member named Corporal Gallo. Gallo is aggressive and confrontational, informing Payton that he killed his previous crew because they were suffering from Pandorum. Bower and his group encounter another survivor named Leland, who tells them of the message sent to the Elysium telling of Earth's destruction and the crew member suffering from Pandorum. That crew member released some of the passengers who had mutated and evolved thanks to an enzyme in their feeding tubes. Now those passengers roam the ship, hunting and eating people. Will Bower and his group be able to get to the reactor and gain control of the ship and how is Gallo connected to Payton?
They still have handheld flashlights in the future?
This movie has a lot of fun and creative ideas that fit well within the science fiction genre. Unfortunately, the execution of said ideas is a different story. Far too many things are crammed into this movie with not enough time given to any of them. The movie is called Pandorum, and what my rundown may lead you to believe, there are good chunks of this movie where the syndrome is never mentioned. If you want to make a movie about people going nuts in space, then go for it. That actually sounds like it could be a crazy and terrifying movie that could be a lot of fun to watch. Instead, they include the Hunters, which look like a cross between Voldemort, the Na'vi, and Plavalaguna from The Fifth Element. If you want the movie to be about them, then have it be about them. I mean there's gaping plot holes as to why they exist, like why isn't everyone a mutant hunter or why no one bothered to check if the feeding tubes would turn them into murderous freaks. Combine that with Payton's side story with Gallo and your head is swimming trying to keep track of everything that's going on. It's too much and too confusing.
While not a true horror movie, there are some instances of fear and a few startling moments. If the movie had more focus, it could have actually been scary. The scenes and grim and dark sometimes making it difficult to discern what exactly is happening. Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid both put on good performances despite the story and some iffy direction. The supporting roles are good as well, though I would have liked a little more development with some of the characters. There's even a brief 2 minute scene with Norman Reedus. The action is pretty good, but just when things start getting interesting, the story shifts to something else. The movie also goes for a big shocking twist ending that actually wasn't that bad, but could have been executed better.
My bloody valentine
Pandorum is a movie filled with potential, but never reaches it. There is too much going on and the hour and 40 minute run time feels much, much longer. If they had chosen to stick with one idea and seen it all the way through, I think Pandorum would have been far scarier and more entertaining. The action is good and there's a few hints of fear, but not a whole lot of horror going on. The acting is good, particularly Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid. This movie is an example of how too good ideas lead to a disappointing end product.