Waking up alone from a deep slumber in a spaceship traveling countless miles away from Earth is terrifying. Having no recollection of who you are or why you are there is even scarier. To make matters worse, the spaceship is also inhabited by pale, humanoid-looking creatures that hunt for human flesh.
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If any of these aspects sound familiar, they really should. “Pandorum” is a haphazard collection of previous sci-fi and horror film elements flung together in a medley of dreary unoriginality.
Movies like “Sunshine,” “The Descent” and even “Wall-E” immediately come to mind while watching “Pandorum”. To find a hospitable place to colonize, humanity sends out its last hope in the form of an advanced spaceship. The people on board the craft are suspended in a deep sleep for years, and many who awaken from this comatose-like state experience a mental breakdown called Pandorum which renders them psychotic.
Additionally, some of the passengers have evolved into bloodthirsty maniacs as their bodies adapted over time (the flight takes over a hundred years to complete). One man has to fight through the madness and monsters to reset the ship’s core and save everyone onboard.
It’s easy to see that the movie does too much in too little time. Its attempt to embrace complexity and avoid superficiality is commendable, but harvesting key components from previous films is not the way to go. For instance, the monsters from both this movie and “The Descent” look and act suspiciously similar.
Audience members, for the most part, will have no idea what’s going on in “Pandorum.” It purposefully withholds certain information, only revealing the details in increments as the movie progresses. In theory, this approach should work marvelously, allowing the movie to evolve from a wannabe thriller into a bona fide mystery. But, for many reasons — whether it’s the relatively slow pace of the film or the absurdity of the material — it just doesn’t compute. By leaving viewers in the dark for so long, the movie ends up feeling much longer than it should.
One redeeming feature of the movie is its visual effects. The ship looks crisp and vivid; the technology (while somewhat hackneyed) appears realistic. Even the monsters look and sound viciously barbaric.
Even though the movie is technically sound with its plot linearity, passable action and modest intrigue, “Pandorum” ultimately suffers from a variety distractions. The audience will invariably raise questions like “What’s going on?” or “Is that from some other movie I saw?” that detract from the central focus of the film. And even those unfamiliar with other sci-fi or horror works will be put off by the film’s slow pace and its chaotic juggling of excessive plot components.
With a name accurately derived from the legendary chaos-filled box, “Pandorum” is a hodgepodge of confusion and disorder.