In Space No-one Can Hear You Yawn
In the future, Earth is of course over-populated. By this time, humans have also discovered a new world that has exceeded all expectations of habitability. As a result, a large vessel has been despatched to colonise this new home with thousands of humans. Mid journey, crew members Bower (Ben Foster – X-Men 3, 3:10 to Yuma, 30 Days of Night) and Payton (Dennis Quaid – Enemy Mine, Inner Space, Frequency) wake up from stasis with partial amnesia, to find their vessel is on the verge of destroying itself unless the reactor is restarted. Payton remains in a control room to guide, while Bower must make his way through a ship mysteriously filled with horrific cannibal mutants, to reach the reactor. While on the way, he of course discovers the ultimate fate of the vessel and crew.
The general plot and style of Pandorum is reminiscent of various films, though it shares more than a little in common with Event Horizon and When Worlds Collide. It all starts interestingly and mysteriously enough with a suitably creepy atmosphere, but before long the film simply drags interminably. It rapidly becomes repetitious, while the director and/or editor rely so much on the all-too-popular quick-cut form of action editing, that the viewer has no real sense of what is happening, thus losing any sense of immediacy or care. In fact, some action scenes appear to blatantly miss required shots that would show what has occurred, making me wonder if perhaps the budget was significantly cut in post production (I felt the parts missed would have likely been effects shots).
Pandorum is quite literally a noisy mess of a film. Many of the events have little or no reason, or stretch believability too far. For example, the ferocious killer mutations have little reason for existence (A poor reason is given, admittedly), and appear to be there because the film makers really wanted 'scary things running around in dark corridors'. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy 'scary things running around in dark corridors' more than most people, but they still need a half-decent reason for being there. Another example is when one character (who has a thankless role, and thus is probably one of the few that we have any real sympathy or interest in), is killed for no good reason after surviving almost till the end. They were probably killed off, simply because the writers couldn't think of a good way to guide them through the conclusion.
Dennis Quaid feels rather wasted in this role, and I have a suspicion it was more of a handy pay cheque. The final twist and finale alone, make Pandorum feel as though it really could have been an interesting story, given the right treatment. Sadly it is an otherwise disappointing and repetitive journey.
*** EXTRA NOTE (Oct 2010) ***
In recently watching an episode of the old science fiction series 'Farscape', which was made a good number of years before Pandorum, I was reminded of an episode called 'Eat Me' from its third series. Unless that episode of Farscape was itself a nod to a previous series or film, Pandorum bears far-far to close a resemblance to be a mere coincidence.