Pandorum (2009)

*. In my initial notes on Pandorum I scribbled something about how it seemed like Event Horizon except that it actually made sense. Yes it’s a contrived plot, but if you grant the basic premise I thought it held together pretty well.
*. Re-watching the film and then listening to the commentary with director Christian Alvart and producer Jeremy Bolt I started to have a few doubts on this score. Little holes started showing up. For example, I was wondering how Bower got away from the first Hunter. He’s clearly captured and dragged off unconscious, but the next time we see him he’s escaped. Was a scene cut? There’s no mention of this on the commentary and it confused me. [Note: Christian Alvart wrote to correct me in the comments below.]
*. But I had bigger surprises in store. I was wrong about a lot of what was going on in this movie the first time I saw it. For example, I always figured “Payton” knew what was going on and wasn’t suffering from the same memory loss Bower was. Had I not been paying attention, or was it that confusing? Probably a bit of both. In my defence, the explanation provided by Leland is pretty loopy and Dennis Quaid’s character is too erratic to follow at times (was he just crazy, or did he have some rational motivation?). Even now I can only say I have a general idea of what’s going on, and I’m less sure it all makes sense. It did, however, keep me interested, which is something few such movies do. And it was never as downright ridiculous as Event Horizon.
*. For some reason there was a big gap between the critical response (they hated it) and audience ratings (which were decent, though the box office was disappointing). I’m a little surprised by the poor critical reception. It seems a lot of reviewers found it overly derivative. But while all of the individual elements are familiar, I thought they were well put together in an interesting story that had a few exciting moments. It’s not a great movie, but I think it’s better than average for its genre.
*. The poster (and DVD box cover) is quite striking, with tubes and cables going into a guy’s mouth and eye sockets. But I wasn’t sure what it had to do with the movie. When the crew members are in hypersleep they’re hooked up to IVs and wear masks, but that’s it. I felt cheated.
*. The Hunters are OK though, and I liked their back story. It was also fun to have a couple of good fight scenes with them, even if they’re edited all to hell. It’s a very dark movie, which normally bugs me but I didn’t mind so much in this case.
*. There were plans for a prequel and sequel but nothing has materialized yet, probably because of the disappointing box office I mentioned. That’s fine by me. I think it works well as a standalone. It’s not a movie I’d run out and recommend, but at the same time it deserves to be a bit better known.

2 thoughts on “Pandorum (2009)

  1. christian Alvart

    Hey, the director here. Just to clear this one up: Bower is not captured and dragged away – that is Cooper – the guy who died in the shaft. Bower is saved by his body. Cheers.


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