Pandorum DVD Review

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A grueling intergalactic journey in a space movie should never be a nerve-wracking ordeal for the audience as well. And while Pandorum director Christian Alvart (Antibodies) treads that fine line between alarmist adventure on other planets and assault on viewer senses, the seemingly real time claustrophobic terrorism bypassing the wisdom of less is more aboard that doomed craft, veers awfully close to wielding a movie as a deadly weapon up on the screen.

Mixing danger junkie disorienting space exploration with a heavy overdose of mixed martial arts mayhem, Pandorum posits a possibly premeditated lost in space scenario with both physically and mentally afflicted inhabitants, human and otherwise. Lapsing into a lethal combination of vertigo and amnesia are possibly two lone clueless crew members Lt. Payton (Dennis Quaid) and Cpl. Bower (Ben Foster).

And while Bower embarks on a fearless when not reckless mission to investigate noises detected somewhere in the enormous contraption, Payton basically does couch potato duty barking commands from the control center cockpit driver’s seat. Managerial monologue which incidentally more often than not repetitively ends with question marks after each sentence, along the order of, ‘where are you?’

Bower on the other hand, is not exactly having the time of his life, repeatedly assaulted in a host of creatively homicidal ways by humans and space aliens alike. Not to mention a kick butt she-geneticist (Antje Traue) into DNA tourism who joins up with Bower after deciding not to kill him, and a famished ranting old timer cook on board (Eddie Rouse) who makes up his mind that it’s better to follow the crew rather than eat them.

To sum up the stressful proceedings, the ship’s inhabitants sleep a lot, eat bugs for protein, and have no idea where they’re going whether within the sewage strewn yucky, perpetually dark bowels of the ship or through outer space. Because according to the craft’s suspect navigator (Norman Reedus), ‘the stars all look alike.’ Okay.

What starts out as a ‘be all you can be’ enlistment promo for extra-terrestrial adventure, ends up as an inter-galactic psycho ward where the inmates are running the ship. Which is not a bad premise for a sci-fi disaster movie, if only the filmmakers counting Resident Evil masterminds, had spent less time playing around with their often impressive special effects digital boy toys, and concentrated a little more on character and storytelling.

Anchor Bay Entertainment

Rated R

2 stars

DVD/Blu-ray Features: The World of Elysium: Behind-the-Scenes Featurette; What Happened to Nadia’s Team; Flight Team Training Video; Audio Commentary with Director Christian Alvart and Producer Jeremy Bolt; Deleted and Alternate Scenes; Still Galleries; Theatrical Trailer; Sneak Peeks.

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network's Arts Express.