Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pandorum (2009)

Rating: B+
* Audio commentary coming soon!
A movie I've been immensely excited about for months, Pandorum is entertaining from start to finish. Instead of allowing the middle act to sag under the dead weight of inflated exposition, the pace remains intense. I've seen a lot of reviews comparing Pandorum to Event Horizon and Aliens, and while I agree to some extent (space crafts, hyper-sleep, unknown predators) this movie is its own offering to the same subgenres. And what is it that it offers? It's clearly a psychological-sci-fi-horror-action-kung-fu-thriller-chiller-creature-feature!

The only major letdown was the premature unveiling of the creatures. This is the same problem (among many others) I had with The Village. A lot of suspense is built around the unknown predator: What is that noise in the ventilation ducts? What was that dark silhouette that just flashed by in the corridor? If we, the audience, haven't seen the creature yet, out imaginations are free to run wild with the fear of the unknown. Show us the creatures right off the bat and you have a hard time building suspense with one of your movie's main threats. In the vein of The Descent, however, Pandorum does effectively evoke some claustrophobia with the cramped ventilation ducts!

Don't cast Dennis Quaid in this type of movie ever again. Ben Foster was fine whenever he didn't have to interact with Quaid, but together the two were rigid and awkward and only partially excused by their constant reiteration of the fact they had just awakened from prolonged hyper-sleep. Once they parted ways and Quaid took a backseat, the acting smoothed out and stopped reminding me of the two main character in the first Saw movie. But perhaps I'm being too hard on Quaid. It's hard for me to set aside the memory of his character in Undercover Blues (1993)--I was 9 and it was a movie about spies and I wanted to be a spy and I thought it was hilarious and it still lives in my heart even though I didn't become a spy!

So, like I said, it's a good, entertaining film that blends sci-fi, action, and horror. I had the luxury of watching it with the volume as loud as I wanted, which I highly recommend. The movie utilizes sound effects more than it does visual effects (I am not even counting the lame creatures, save for the child toward the end), and succeeds in keeping the viewer on edge with even the most perfunctory of sounds. Forget about Event Horizon, forget about Aliens, forget about The Descent; enjoy Pandorum as Pandorum. Just don't expect anything spectacular as far as effects or anything new as far as psychological probing based on the title of the movie.

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

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