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Pandorum (2010)

1/10/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Pandorum in the USA - or Buy Pandorum in the UK

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region 2 DVD: pub: Icon Films ICON10188. 103 minute film with extras. Price: about GBP 4.00 (uk) if you know where to look). stars: Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Cam Gigandet, Cung Le and Antje Traue.

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This film was a surprise. I mean a real surprise. Proper Science Fiction feeding you the clues as to what is going on and still building up to a big surprise ending. I agree with director Christian Alvart and producer Jeremy Bolt’s assertion in the audio commentary in that they set out to do something they hadn’t seen before and I think they succeeded in doing that. ‘Pandorum’ itself is a reference to going space crazy although I suspect you can go crazy wherever you are. Doing it on a starship, more so, especially when most people are in hibernation and those that have woken and mutated by drugs to cope with the planet destination, Tanus, are cannibals, eager to eat whoever wakes up. I think anyone would panic under such a situation. That is, if you know it’s going on.

At the beginning of the film, though, two members of the crew in rotation five are brought to wakefulness and discover the main systems of their starship, the Elysium, without any memory of their own lives, a side-effect of prolonged hibernation and locked in their chamber. Peyton (actor Dennis Quaid) and Bower (actor Ben Foster) have to work out how to get into the main part of the Elysium and turn back on the reactor after a power failure. Bower gets out via the ventilation shaft and Peyton guides him from the computer in the incubation chamber. Bower discovers a few other wanderers but more dangerously, a sub-stratia of beings with a taste for human flesh. Survival is everything. Death is absolute. You are on a roller-coaster.

Beyond that is pretty much spoiler zone and I wouldn’t want to spoil things for you. With the spaceship in cinema darkness, that is not absolute darkness, you have to watch what comes at you until some of the lights come back on. The Elysium reminds me a bit of the Nostromo in ‘Alien’, a starship that is a character in its own right and looks lived in. It is also a colony ship and it’s not a giveaway that these are the only people left from Earth after the planet blows up while they are in transit. A real roller-coaster.

Considering that director Christian Alvart had such a detailed storyboards for filming, some of which is included in the extras, it does make me wonder how there was half an hour of deleted scenes and take variants. Granted, with the former that could be a timing thing and the rest, just to be flexible. If you’re interested in directing, however, it does give some enlightenment on some of the choices made.

‘Pandoram’ also doesn’t appear to have any tie-in books but if plans to do a sequel happen, I can’t see it staying that way for long. There is plenty about this film that should have you discussing this subject for ages. Some elements of this story have been done in SF stories and the odd TV episode, generation ships with people on-board forgetting where they are isn’t new, but not quite in this fashion of this film. If you missed this film the first time around, then pick up this DVD.

GF Willmetts

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