Yes, I am going to pan Pandorum. Easily one of the most boring and tedious sci-fi horror flicks to pop out and quickly disappear from theaters in 2009, the story follows a group of space-stranded astronauts trapped in a desolate, dark, and demented journey into the unknown on a lost ship which includes several stowaways who want to eat them.
The main cast consists of a wild-eyed, wisecracking Dennis Quaid, a generally confused but earnest Ben Foster, a laconic Norman Reedus, a kickass Cung Le, and kickass Milla Jovovich lookalike Antje Traue (Resident Evil boys Paul W.S. Anderson and Jeremy Bolt are clearly Pandorum's producers), as well as a too-large supporting crew to throw out a few careless red herrings as the mysterious origins of the man-eating alien life-forms come to light.
And I use the phrase "come to light" with a heaping teaspoon of irony, because Pandorum is one of the darkest, murkiest, muddiest movies to come along since the power went out in the Black Hole of Calcutta (I strongly suspect DP Wedigo von Schultzendorff is descended from blind mole rats). While the audience is as disoriented as the heroes in peril the effect doesn't add much to the tale, such as it is. Between gemtastic bons-mots such as "Where are you?", "We call it… pandorum", and "Are you fucking kidding me?" there's some mixed martial arts thrown in as the humans battle the Descent-like zombie-alien-E.T. thingies.
The script might as well have been based on the back of a shampoo bottle (wash-rinse-repeat), as new things only happen every once in awhile at perfectly-placed intervals. Mostly, we peer into the darkness as Foster walks down hallways, corridors, and occasionally shimmies through tubing or climbs up and down stairs. Pandorum director Christian Alvart, making his English-language cinematic debut here, seems to trying to present a combination of Solaris (Foster has a missing wife, whom he believes he sees on the ship), Resident Evil 2 (there's a nemesis, and some vertigo), and Ravenous (cannibal cooks)… I think. To be quite honest, it's hard to tell exactly what the intent was in this shadowy space-swirl.
As far as the horror aspect goes, Pandorum is not all bad. It's got some remarkably creepy creatures, a suitably spooky dash of haunted house style suspense (albeit in dribs and drabs), and a few gruesome and gory scenes.
Extras on the DVD include a commentary, deleted scenes, and a making-of featurette that's got your standard back-patting from the producers and guarded praise on the script and filmmakers from perspective-deprived actors who're being interviewed while still in the thick of shooting.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson