When nothing else is of interest one can always stare at German actress Antje Traue’s cleavage . . .
It has been such a long while since there has been a decent big screen space movie that my pulse quickened at the mere sight of Pandorum’s opening shot of a giant spaceship slowly gliding through space. (Okay, I’ve been like this since I first saw that Imperial Star Destroyer in Star Wars. Sue me.)
Well, take a good look at that spaceship, because from there on Pandorum is all darkly lit corridors and characters leopard crawling through claustrophobic air vents with neon glow sticks clenched between their teeth. In fact Pandorum is so dark and gloomy that it easily gets our vote for most under-lit movie of the year – if not the decade! The lighting may be all mood and atmosphere, but it also means that it is difficult to follow a lot of the action, which mainly consists of crewmembers outrunning albino mutants that seemed to have strolled onto this movie’s set from The Hills Have Eyes remake.
Movie characters outrunning what they cannot possibly outrun in the first place, namely impossibly fast and strong monsters, is of course nothing new. So one should probably go with the idea that a farmer would know martial arts and stick fighting and that a trained geneticist can leap around like a circus acrobat. Sigh, long gone are the days of the original Alien (1979) in which spaceship crewmembers knew no Kung Fu at all . . .
Anyway, Pandorum is not the name of the spaceship. The spaceship’s name is the Elysium and it is on a one-way ticket to a nearby star and an inhabitable planet orbiting it. You see in a few hundred years from now humanity has completely fucked up the Earth – it is overpopulated, polluted and resources are scarce. Now it is time for humanity to find another planet to inhabit (and presumably fuck that one up too). Incidentally, Elysium is a section of the underworld in ancient Greek mythology. Whoever thinks up all these spaceship names? It’s like they’re just tempting fate!
Pandorum is instead the name of a deep space sickness that makes humans paranoid and ultimately murderously psychotic. The movie begins with two crewmembers (played by Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster) being awakened from a long period of suspended animation. The Elysium seems to be abandoned – expect for those extras from Hills Have Eyes and a handful of “normal” humans amongst them the farmer (Cung Le) who knows martial arts but no English, which leads one to safely deduce that this is not an episode of StarGate SG:1 in which EVERYBODY – including the aliens – can speak English.
What has happened to the rest of the crew? What exactly are those mutant creatures running round and where did they come from? These are only a few of the questions facing the small group of survivors. There is also a nuclear reactor about to go boom! probably because the screenwriter saw them use the same device in Aliens way back then.
Pandorum kicks off as a sci-fi movie and then turns into a horror / action movie for most of its running time before metamorphosing back into a science fiction movie for the film’s plot twist ending. Actually we kinda liked the surprise ending even though we suspected something like it. Still, the closing shots went a long way to redeem the unoriginal and clichéd proceedings preceding it. In fact we think that the real interesting story is probably what happens afterwards . . .
The sci-fi bits compensate for the unoriginal horror stuff (sorta). And when nothing else is of interest one can always stare at German actress Antje Traue’s cleavage. It makes up for a lot in this movie . . .