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Pandorum (Blu-ray Review)

15 Jan, 2010 By: John Latchem


Street 1/19/10
Anchor Bay
Box Office $10.3 million
$29.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray
‘R’ for strong horror violence and language.
Stars Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Cam Gigandet, Antje Traue, Cung Le.

As Pandorum begins we are told that 200 years in the future, with resources at a premium, Earth launches a ship called Elysium to a planet named Tanis. In its opening scenes, the crew receives a message that catastrophe has decimated Earth, and that the passengers of the ship are all that remains of humanity.

Cut to some time later. Crewmembers Bower (Ben Foster) and Payton (Dennis Quaid) emerge from hibernation and find the ship empty. They have no memory of their mission or who they are, but have retained some technical knowledge.

They begin to unravel the purpose of their journey, dragging the audience along on a series of revelations that forms the crux of the story. However, while the memory loss starts off as an intriguing mystery in a solid sci-fi setting, it turns out to be just a plot device to manipulate the audience and create tension for a horror story.

With Payton remaining in a control room, Bowers realizes he must restart the ship’s engines and begins finding dead bodies and other survivors roaming the halls. It soon becomes clear some malevolent force is plaguing the ship. But are the threats real, or is Bower suffering from space dementia?

The film gives us just enough information to keep up, but the proceedings are so dark and grimy there are times we wish they’d get to the point. Still, Pandorum boasts impressive production values to invoke a mood somewhere between Alien and Event Horizon.

The disc includes a half-hour of deleted scenes, including an extended ending probably meant to set up a sequel. There also are a few in-universe videos that cleverly enhance the storyline; one is a promotional video for the ship’s mission, another is a video diary made by other survivors on board.

A making-of featurette and commentary with director Christian Alvart and producer Jeremy Bolt provide a good mix of analysis and production history that should add to an appreciation of the film’s craftsmanship.

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