Quick show of hands: who's always dreamed of flying through space fordestinations and adventures unknown?
Now that the nerds have outed themselves, we can all proceed to laughat them. With that out of the way, let's return to our boringpresent-day lives where we still have to fear disease-causingmicroscopic organisms (but we are so much bigger than them!)and use smooshed-up dinosaur bones to propel our horseless carriages.That's soooo cool.
Much better, I think, to be terrorized in the inky abyss by shriekinghordes of malevolent beasties, which, if sci-fi movies likePandorum are to be trusted, is our inevitable destiny. Goodtimes.
Roughly two hundred years in the future, the Earth's population haspassed the 25 billion mark. As the struggle for resources intensifies,a massive spaceship is launched into the skies.
Crewmen Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid awaken from hypersleep to findtheir memories are missing and the ship's power is failing. They seemto be alone, but when Foster climbs into the air ducts to find outwhat's happened, he finds himself hunted by vicious, humanoid monsterswho've all but taken over the ship.
Eerily, this mirrors my last trip on Carnival Cruise Lines, right downto the narcotic sense of confusion. Pandorum plays its cardsright in taking a long time to let us in on what's going on, giving usno more exposition than whatever Foster can discover by running intohis fellow crewmembers, many of whom are hung in various states ofdisembowelment.
This is a sound strategy. The need to know what's happening hooks youright away, and later, if it turns out the answers to the mystery area big cart of bullshit, you've already been kidnapped by the movie solong you've got the cinematic equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome. ArePandorum's answers BS? Maaaaybe! Hey, no skipping to the end!It's the getting there that's half the fun.
And what's more fun than getting hunted down by ghost-pale monstersthat look like the fugly children of the cave-people from TheDescent and the aliens from Aliens ? Only watching ithappen to other people, of course. Without feeling derivative,director Christian Alvart taps into the same claustrophobic dreadthose two films conjure up so well. The spaceship ends up being agreat setting, both massive and cramped, capable of hiding anything inits dark, dark, and did I mention dark crannies.
Unfortunately, one of the things hiding around those dim corners isnot a bunch of interesting characters. Foster's an amazing talent withlittle to do here but ask everyone around him what's going on, and themakeshift team he assembles falls squarely into two camps: the laconicbadass or the blathering maniac.
There's enough action and intriguing weirdness to prevent this frombeing a big deal, but it's always a letdown when the environment is somuch more interesting than the people in it.
They do, at least, eventually get around to working out what's up.It's just that most of the answers are more like guesses, or it turnsout the questions themselves never made sense in the first place.(Like, for instance, what is pandorum? I get that it's spacemadness — I saw that excellent episode of Ren and Stimpy moretimes than I can count — but it seems to be more than that, too.)
It's a mess for sure, but the good news for Pandorum is it's agooey, lively, exciting mess you wouldn't mind diving into again. Fornow, I'm a skeptical passenger — but I can't help admitting I enjoyedthe ride.