DVD Review – Pandorum

This review will be in two parts an initial spoiler free review paragraph and then a more in depth exploration of the film.

This is an entertaining horror/space adventure – it straddles across hard SF/pulp boundary. The performances are good, and there are some nice twists in the plot – perhaps one too many. With one notable exception the science and mechanics of the story show evidence of having been properly thought abut which is a pleasant change.

In summary I enjoyed it and would watch again, I think the plot and an atmospheric first twenty minutes means it’s probably not well suited as a beer & pretzels video night feature but thought a quite night in it’s a smashing picture.

So if you’ve not seen it that’s the review in a nutshell. Let’s move onto the meat of the film which is riddled with spoilers.

The first twenty minutes are very atmospheric there is great use of light to give a creepy feeling. Initially you can be thinking that is just clever budgeting though later in the film you seen a lot of sets (redressed no doubt,) however it’s a good introduction to the conundrum at the film’s heart and establishes a sense of paranoia. The only criticism of this part is that it can be hard to tell what’s happening in some of the scenes but then that is rather the point even if it gets a bit repetitive ship design in this film is a nice bridge between the ‘Alien’ grimy industrial feel and a truly large spaceship. The film’s start also has a very nice ‘Babylon 5’ style track to ship’s bridge shot. The main criticism of the start at it has a star wars style series of exposition that given he pertinent facts are revealed in the story if think was superfluous and robbed a little of the mystery.

After those first twenty minutes the film takes a firm step into Hills Have Eyes/Cannibal Holocaust territory. Now the threats are well realised with an otherworldly feel accentuated by the staccato editing of their movements which keeps you guessing as to their origins, however has the cannibal threat become a bit of a cliché? True in this liberated age cannibalism is a remaining taboo but it’s a very common one exploited in horror and sci-fi. That said, in this instance it works with the available materials and resources that this proto-society has to offer. I say society as later scenes suggest an element of honour to the adversaries which hints at a culture. And gods their kids are creepy! Having praised the editing there is also one scene where it is tough to tell whom is stabbing whom though issue is resolved promptly.

The driver of the mission is an overpopulated earth that we see some in flashback. The dystopian vision shaped by the initial titles was ruined something by the spacious interior shots. In short no one would have a living room that big in a world that over-populated, (who? me picky?) However some other shots on Earth (Berlin I believe) were very evocative of a wasted Earth with nice costume design. Actually it has to be said the costume designs through the film from the ‘sleep skin’ to the cannibals, to the survivors and the uniforms are all very good.

The survivors on the ship are an element that doesn’t make the largest amount of sense if thought about. With a cynical mindset I am unsure of how much martial arts training farm workers or scientists get in a normal day. However as a driver for the plot and an opportunity to show both the diversity of the ship’s population and present some very pleasant visuals it works in this film.

There is a significant plot twist based around the pandorum of the title – a form of space cabin fever which I didn’t see coming and was really very well done. There is another following that regarding the ship and its place in the universe that topped that and its resolution was nicely foreshadowed.

I may have picked over the carcass of Pandorum like a hungry cannibal myself – however there is some good eating on those bones! I could go for a second helping.

GS Reviewer: Andrew Clark

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