Pandorum (2009)

IMDB: [R] Two crew members of a spaceship wake up from hypersleep to discover that all their colleagues are missing. Despite this, it appears that they are not alone.
***
Rating: [8]💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚🖤🖤

The perfect time to write about this is after watching for what must be a 5th time with some friends. A favorite genre in my home is science fiction thriller. This movie adds so much to love. It keeps you thinking, there’s fast paced action, psychological thrills, and some fantastic practical effects and makeup.To avoid spoilers… the plot summary above is pretty much all you’ll get. The intro of the movie exposits that the earth is pretty screwed (what else would it be) and that a new planet was discovered and a ship of settlers are dispatched. Cut to two people waking up with extreme amnesia from being asleep. Then it gets WILD.

What I Love:
The pacing and style of this flick is great. It’s not an immediate classic but it builds on the core of sci fi (even cliche) to form it into a new, interesting story. The design of… we’ll say “characters” is great. It feels like we’re totally along for the ride. We learn things mostly as they learn them – besides a title card into to what the mission is before the two flight crew remember. The first watch you’re constantly saying “What’s this now!?” and gripping your seat.

What I Don’t Love:
Bump up the mystery and drop a few cliches. The title cards are unnecessary as an intro. (Similar exposition is done as the first lines/scene in the movie that could also have been moved further into the story.) Rather seeing someone wake up from hypersleep with NO idea where they are or what they’re doing would bring us into the perspective better. There’s a tendency to over explain in media off the bat. The exact same information could have been inserted in dialogue or flashbacks as the characters remembered them. This small bit of editing would elevate the whole film. We would be in at the start as participants, instead of spoken to as viewers.

While the action is great and there’s some fantastic choreography, it does suffer from jump cuts. It’s not extreme. There’s very little CGI (to the point where there’s nothing I can immediately say is CGI during fights though surely there are wires and such.) I think the fight sets could have hung on their own a bit more without some many cuts.and.angles.for.action when the choreography could have stood alone more.

Lastly: strobing. This is a complaint I have with many movies – even classics like Alien. I’m somewhat light sensitive – flashing bright lights make me extremely dizzy and can trigger headaches and migraines. There are a few scenes with strobing. Luckily it’s fairly minor in terms of contrast and speed and it makes sense in the set. Yet I still wish it was used far less in movies. In part I think strobing is used as a crutch for atmosphere and in part because I know I’m not the only photosensitive person to view movies.

Favorite Quote:
I was younger than you when I first came onboard. Funny, I can’t even remember what life was like before this flight began. It’s all I have.

Top Trope:
Time Crunch -we’re on the clock and of course we cut it close to the wire.

Spoilers: Click to Reveal

Again, turn back now if you’ve clicked as we’re going to reveal the TWISTS!

Pandorum is basically space sickness, triggered by emotional distress. Perhaps it’s the emotional distress of learning that the Elysium (ship) is all that’s left of the human species and earth?!?! We learn that at the start of the movie. We also learn after they wake up that the reactor must be restarted – because of course it does.

Twist 1: The ship is filled with alien / animal like humanoid creatures. And holy HELL is it great to have some practical effects and special effects makeup on PEOPLE. They feel very real, and very scary. They’re fast. They kill without a thought, and they fit perfectly on the ship. It’s suspected that the creatures ARE human due to evolutionary kickstarter juice in their hypersleep tubes.

Twist 2: “Pandorum” caused one crew member to go insane, kill his flight crew, do a whole bunch of unspeakable evil, and go back to sleep after. It’s revealed that Payton (who woke up with Bower, our main character) IS that crew member. His real name is Gallo. The reveal that Payton is Gallo is pretty great as he’s alone and suddenly Gallo shows up. They talk, fight, etc. before merging into the same body.

Twist 3: They’ve been on Tanis (the new planet) the whole time. They crashed in the ocean and have been sitting there for around 800 years. Therefore yes, the creatures are – or were – human.

It’s a wonderful group of twists and it makes for a fun science fiction movie that I just adore.