Sam reviews Pandorum

Mar.22, 2010, filed under movies, Reviews

The other film I watched this week was Pandorum, on loan from my mum. I had wanted to see it at the cinema, but Frood and I tend to be a little disorganised about going to the cinema unless it’s something that I’m desperate to see, so we missed it.

Pandorum, for those of you who were not paying attention to the adverts, is supposedly about… Let me just copy what it says on the box:

Two astronauts (Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster) awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. It’s pitch black, they are disoriented, and the only sound is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the ship. They have no memory of who they are or what their mission is, but one thing they do realise very quickly is that they are not alone.

This is pretty much utter rubbish. Do not pay attention to what the blurb on the back says. This is Alien meets 28 Days Later meets Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and don’t let anyone try to persuade you of anything different. You do not need to know anything more than that. This is the story in a nutshell, and if you have seen both this and Mad Max III, please do not tell me that the bit with the dude and his pictorial creation myth was not ripped straight off the kiddies and their Captain Walker story and expect me to believe you.

We had huge issues with the lighting. For the first third of the film I could barely see what was going on. Then the strobes started and I couldn’t watch at all. I could see glimmers of a really good film in there, and spent the entirety of it waiting for them to turn into something more substantial.

Oh, and oh! Seriously. Girlie has been surviving on her own for months, and yet as soon as our hero turns up she becomes incapable of even climbing out of a hole by herself? What is it with movies? A woman who has been independent and has the skills and ability to look after herself does not become weak and useless the moment a guy makes an appearance. She should have been looking after him, not the other way around. She had the skills and the experience, he simply had junk in his pants.

While I’m at it, the Earth just vanishing? Was that for real or did I lose interest before they explained that this is impossible and hadn’t really happened it was just the space madness and/or the mutagenic food cubes?

Oh, the science rawked, dude! I haven’t seen drivel like that since Sunshine!

OK. Enough. I wanted to like this film, I really did. But at first I watched but couldn’t see, then I couldn’t watch, and when I could watch what I saw was derivative and disappointing.

There’s a particular sort of disappointment that comes from seeing a good idea poorly executed. That’s the flavour of Pandorum.

2 comments for this entry:
  1. Anarchy

    Alien itself is derivative.

    I don’t understand this was like 28 days later at all.

  2. ravenbait

    Thanks for stopping by!

    There’s a difference between having antecedents (everything has antecedents) and being derivative — although there’s nothing new under the sun. There are 7 basic plots and Campbell covered all the rest. However, if I watch a film/read a book and it does nothing new with the various elements, then that is what I call derivative. The dark and industrial spaceship was ripped from Alien, the fast-moving hordes of cannibal-zombies from 28 Days Later, and the faux cave-painting creation myth from Beyond Thunderdome. The ‘twist’ was obvious from early on and what could have been a novel exploration of what happens to multiple generations of human kept in close confinement in an artificial and closely-managed environment was shelved in favour of mutagenic rations creating a race of super-cannibals, thus turning it into yet another monster flick. So, yeah, in my opinion Pandorum didn’t really have much going for it. I’ve seen too many films that could have been really good but weren’t to be forgiving, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who really liked it and that’s cool, too.

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