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Pandorum (2009)

Directed by Christian Alvart Written by Travis Milloy

  I’ve never been one for Sci-Fi films; not to say that I have anything against them in particular. My heart’s just always leaned more towards cohabiting in Haddonfield or taking a stroll down Elm Street as opposed to the outer skirts of the galaxy. So I form my opinions more on the notion as an audience member than a die hard fan with any expectations. The eventual story for this film however, came together after both Writer and Director had similar versions of a tale and decided to combine the two.

Timeline to keep in Mind: 1969– World Population: 3.6 B  2009-World Population: 6.76 B (Keplar Telescope launched to search for earth-like planets)  2153-World Population: 24.34 (Paleo 17 space probe lands on Tanis/ Food and water shortages common)  2174-Battle for Earth’s resources reach boiling point- Spacecraft Elysium launched (Mission Years: 923 Years)

We receive a small flash of the past as we’re shot directly into Corporal Bower’s present as he emerges from an extended hypersleep, gasping for air and peeling off the copious layers of dead skin accumulated. Having been under for the past 123 years (though the exact time unknown), he can’t remember his name nor what his exact mission was initially. Experiencing what is best described as a heartbeat with the power going in and out throughout the ship, vague clues lead him to assisting Lt. Payton out of his pod as he too awakens, disoriented. Only able to recall the training but not the exact destination, the two are able to manually power up a station, though with no luck reaching any outside contact.

With only one way out, Bower begins crawling through the ventilation system, soon finding a way out that gives him sight of another Lieutenant’s remains who wasn’t so lucky. Green and blue tints making for some of the only color we see throughout the rest of the film. Though moving his way about the ship he runs into another survivor; Nadia (Antje Traue) who gives quick indications of not going to be easy to get along with right away. Just as quickly disappearing with creatures surfacing from everywhere and taking a body found back into the darkness with them. Meanwhile Payton’s curiosity had discovered the transport they were on was built with no intention of going back, that they were the cargo. Sixty thousand people sent on a single launch trajectory on what was to be a settlers vessel to the only other earth like plant; Tanis. The two continue their communication as Bower asks about a seemingly non-important condition, triggering a terrible memory of the Eden mission for Payton. A flashback showing how two years into their shift, an officer had a breakdown that turned into full blown ODS (Orbital ) syndrome. Convinced that the ship was cursed, he evacuated it and launched 5000 people to their deaths.

Finding yet another rigged body hanging in the ship he comes in contact with Shepard (Norman Reedus) who believes Bower to be part of the retraction crew. Though his impatience leads to a short life and Bower finds himself saved by Manh (Cung Le), a member of the Agriculture crew, shortly joined once again by Nadia in search of the reactor. Being a bit more open to talking as Bower discovers they were on what was “truly Noah’s Ark.” Having been apart of the genetics team and spending seven years readying specimens, all of that meant nothing if unable to reach the reactor which had already lost them 30% of what was intended to be the start up in a new civilization.

When the silence Lt. Payton finds himself surrounded by begins to yield unexplained noises, it eventually leads to the discovery of Corporal Gallo (Cam Gigandet). With claims of having to defend himself against his crew that showed the beginning symptoms of OSD. As Payton insists on giving him a sedative to relax as he begins discussing the symptoms of the disease outright. A later interaction with Leland (Eddie Rouse) sets the group back a bit though soon discover only having 45 minutes before the reactor shut down indefinitely. With time running out and Corporal Gallo losing his last wits, the race to save themselves intermingles beautifully with the last shots into what becomes year one on Tanis.

Intended to include a sequel, even eventually a trilogy, I doubt we’ll see them. Unless they completely run out of remakes and second round of remaking that they begin making sequels for every movie without such. Though I actually wouldn’t mind seeing what they could come up with for a next installment. The story keeps you intrigued thoroughly and it only gets better with each viewing as you begin to understand everything for what it actually is. It also ensures your paying attention by throwing you in the middle of the story and piecing it together with Bower as he makes his way through the ship. The four main Actors all did a great job but no surprise that Ben Foster shined overall. At least 60% of his performance was acting with a prerecorded voice of Dennis Quaid. And the slight humor he was able to let show forth showed the aspect that I’ve always enjoyed about seeing him in films. It’s always a pleasure to see Reedus pop up in any random role and while I had never been fond of Cam Gigandet previously, found his performance alluring, making for some of the better scenes with the back and forth he had with Quaid. Leaving Antje Traue who was fantastic; a perfect blend of sex appeal and badassery all around.

Though the film is rather dark, the effect was necessary in order to really sell the appeal. It also never hurts to add for a little ambiance. And though everyone had emerged from pods, it was important to show how difficult it was to break into one; how in fact, they couldn’t be broken into. Thus having no way for the creatures to break in whenever liking but having to wait just as long for their food. They were however vastly reminiscent to The Descent in it’s choice of the look for the monsters and color schemes chosen. But that’s bound to happen in as limitless a location as the dark. Though the fast pace shots in how they moved kept for a better suspense since they were shown so frequently. The Actors in make-up also didn’t require CGI so any of the mouth movements and way they contorted were their own (excluding of course the obvious and faster shots of them running). As well, in case it wasn’t picked up upon, loved that they were the passengers that had mutated over the years. Talk about your wrongful evolution.

Mad Fact: While Norman’s cameo may seem a bit random, he had worked previously with Christian Alvart on Antibodies and is good friends with the Director. Having obtained a copy of the script he called Christian up and said he wanted to play the role of Shepard. Having him pitched to the Producers and cast shortly after.

~Ben insisted on eating a live bug for one of the scenes

~Jon Foster (Ben’s brother) also has a cameo of the person unable to escape his pod as Bower and Nadia try to leave the trail of creatures following

~With 18 different looks and 45 separate locations trying to capture, 12 sets were built in all that were rotated and varied upon the scene.

~Christian Alvart had a book of at least 800 storyboards that he used religiously, including every dialogue sequence throughout.