Saturday, September 26, 2009

Review: "Pandorum"

I think I may have mentioned that I am a big Genre Queen (and proud of it). Surprisingly, I know more gay horror fans than straight ones. And nothing says "Fun" to me, more than a big, dark, tension-filled ride through the carnival Spook House, which is exactly what Pandorum is.

In the distant future, Earth's resources are strained beyond the breaking point and desperate search for an Earth-like planet is underway. When one is finally discovered and proven to have vegetation, the Elysium is sent along with 60,000 passengers on a one-way journey to colonize the planet Taris. X-men III and "Six Feet Under" alum Ben Foster plays Bower, a mechanical engineer and part of the gigantic starship's flight crew, who is abruptly awakened from hyper-sleep, which has resulted in temporary memory-loss. The ship is dark and he is apparently alone. As he slowly begins to regain his memory, he awakens his C.O., Lt. Payton (Dennis Quaid). With Payton guiding him via radio, Bower sets out to re-set the ship's reactor so power can be restored and the bridge accessed. Bower soon discovers he and Payton are not alone. Eventually joined by a Vietnamese agriculturist (Cung Le) , a geneticist (Antje Traue) and a madman (Eddie Rouse) who has been awake longer than of them, Bower makes his way through the ship's bowels. Oh yeah - there are intelligent, flesh-eating monsters stalking them the whole way. And did I mention that someone may or may not be suffering from a severe case of "Pandorum?" The title refers to the slang for what is essentially "space-madness" (a Sci-Fi version of Cabin Fever). Is it Bower, Payton or Gallo (Twilight's Cam Gigandet), the young flight officer Payton discovers cowering in the coils of the ship's ventilation system? It could be anyone - or no one. We are left to discover just what went wrong aboard the Elysium along with the characters, none of whom are even sure how long they've been away from home.

Borrowing heavily from other genre films of the same ilk, Pandorum was probably pitched as "Alien meets The Descent meets Event Horizon." The script by Travis Malloy, while derivative, is original enough and structured in a way that balances the exposition with the action sequences quite nicely (the exposition is given in gradual doses as Bower and Payton slowly regain more and more of their memories). Both Foster and Quaid give solid performances, with Quaid showing more depth than he usually does on film and Foster showing just enough of his sculpted torso to please both the ladies and us sodomites (did I actually just use that word?). The supporting cast is fine and German director Christian Alvart keeps the tension high and the pace moving along nicely (I, unlike some critics I've read, did not find the second act dull in the least). My only real complaint is a common one and something I really hate: the editing in the fight scenes seems to have been done using a weed-whacker instead of an actual editing bay. It was almost like they were going for the Guinness record of "Most Cuts in a Two-Minute Sequence."

A fun (if predictable), Sci-Fi Horror flick, Pandorum will please genre fans with it's balance of gore, violence, tension and whiz-bang special effects (both D and I "oohed" over the laser-razor and I wouldn't mind having a non-lethal sonic wrist-cannon for those times I find myself in a dark and creepy place). The monsters are nothing we haven't seen before, with the exception of their children, who are just as nasty as their parents. I would hardly describe Pandorum as great movie, but it is a solid and entertaining 108 minutes of mystery, chills, suspense and madness. Rated "R" for Horrific Violence and Gore. *** (Three Out of Four Stars)

Next week, I'll be reviewing Zombieland, a film I've been drooling to see for months, now (trailer NSFW).

More, anon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm seeing it this week - will let you know if I agree with your review. I think I usually do, so I'm more excited know. Sodomites always excite me. :)