The derelict spaceship has become the sci-fi equivalent of the haunted house, and for a brief time, Pandorum makes creepy use of its intergalactic setting, a 60,000-person craft known as the Elysian which technical officer Bower (Ben Foster) finds in a state of serious disrepair after emerging, as if from the womb, out of hypersleep. Beset by temporary memory loss, Bower, along with the help of lone comrade Payton (a bored Dennis Quaid), attempts to turn on the powerless ship by reaching its nuclear reactor, a trip complicated by hordes of pale humanoid mutants in bone-spiked battle armor. From the environment’s steaming pipes, slimy walls, and enveloping darkness to the unholy sounds that directly precede attacks, it’s clear that director Christian Alvart knows he’s merely tracing Alien‘s basic outline. And initially, his expert use of shadow and suggested terrors generates mild anxiety that’s augmented by the central mystery surrounding what went horribly wrong while the astronauts slumbered. However, the further Bower journeys into the spacecraft’s bowels, with Payton providing navigation tips from back in their original sleep chamber, the less Pandorum unnerves, thanks largely to the crewman’s partnership with a buxom German geneticist (Antje Traue) and brawny Vietnamese agriculturalist (Cung Lee), both of whom perplexingly turn out to be martial arts experts, and whose presence diminish the material’s early alone-in-the-dark suspense. Were Travis Milloy’s script interested in more than basic monster movie chills, this steep drop-off in tension might be forgivable. Yet the story’s bibilical allusions, as well as its interest in issues of morality and madness (à la producer Paul W.S. Anderson’s Event Horizon) via the hypersleep-fostered insanity known as Pandorum, are too facile to prop up a lack of second-half scares, with the material devolving into outright ludicrousness when a screeching warrior creature throws the weaponless agriculturalist a spear for their showdown in an act of interspecies sportsmanship.
- Christian Alvart
- Travis Milloy
- Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Norman Reedus, Cam Gigandet
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