I've had Pandorum kicking around on DVD since Inception was new in theaters cuz I bought it from a closing Hollywood Video store for a buck. I'd heard it was similar to Event Horizon, but that it wasn't that hot. Needing a 5th title to get the 5/$20 Blu-ray sale at Blockbuster, I bought it again. Since I just watched Event Horizon last week, I figured it would be time to catch up on Pandorum.
It starts off with an interestingly: A giant spaceship is traveling the cosmos when they receive a message from Earth that seems to imply that the planet was about to be destroyed and the people on this ship are the last of the human race. Ben Foster (last seen being creepy in The Mechanic) awakes from his hypersleep chamber in a dark cold room. He doesn't remember who he is or where he is, relying on clues from his uniform for his name. He spots Dennis Quaid asleep in his pod and thaws him out. He's a lieutenant and believes he's part of Foster's flight crew, judging from the tattoo on Foster's arm, and takes command.
They're locked in the room, though, so Foster climbs thru the vents, seeking a way to get Quaid out and find out what's going in. He rapidly discovers things have gone seriously wrong as the ship is dark, grimy, and lousy with bizarre vampire mutant monsters, booby-trapped crewmen, a kick-ass chick (German actress Antje Traue*) with a great rack who doesn't want to play the Basil Exposition role, and other weirdos. What happened to the ship, the Elysium, which they eventually remember was being sent on a 123-year voyage to colonize an Earthlike Eden called Tanis?
Pandorum starts out well with a lot of building tension for the first half-hour. However, as the monsters appear along with survivors who either don't speak English or aren't interested in answering the simple question, "WHAT THE UNHOLY HECK IS GOING ON HERE?!?!?", it starts to get annoying and when it's over and you start to ponder the gaping logic holes of the movie, it really starts to deflate. The explanation for the monsters doesn't make sense, especially when the length of time that's supposed to have transpired; they should've starved.
I wasn't aware before watching, but it was produced by Paul W.S. Anderson and Jeremy Bolt who did...wait for it...Event Horizon. The attention to mood and production design clearly is evident, but they also brought the attitude that slick visuals will paper over the plot holes. Why go through all the trouble of creating a world and not telling a cohesive story in it?
While it ends up a mess, the performances are good - Quaid is turning into Harrison Ford a little - it has style and, for a while, some good tension.
Score: 6/10. Rent it.
* Hello there!