— by ALEXA MILAN —
The latest Paul W.S. Anderson produced thriller certainly isn’t without its flaws, but in a time when horror duds like “Sorority Row” and “Jennifer’s Body” are gracing the screen, “Pandorum” is a breath of fresh air.
In this sci-fi suspense film, Bower (Ben Foster) and Payton (Dennis Quaid) awaken on a broken-down spacecraft after years of hypersleep with no idea of where they are, who they are or what their mission is. The ship appears to be abandoned, so Bower ventures into the darkness of the spacecraft, searching for anything that might help them while Payton stays behind to guide Bower via radio.
On his journey through the ship, Bower makes several shocking discoveries. As he starts to regain awareness, Bower remembers it was their mission to transport people from an over-populated Earth to the Earth-like planet Tanis, where they hope to sustain life. He remembers their families were traveling with them, but he has no idea where they are.
Bower runs into a few other survivors, who have been fending for themselves for months while he and Payton were in hypersleep. But he also encounters something else that has the remaining survivors fearing for their lives – something that may not be entirely human.
I didn’t know much about “Pandorum” before I saw it, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s certainly not an amazing film, but it’s very entertaining and suspenseful. The story is captivating, and the atmosphere director Christian Alvart creates is an intriguing backdrop for a sci-fi thriller. Knowing that these people are trapped on a dilapidated ship with no foreseeable means of escape, surrounded by nothing but dark, vast emptiness creates a continuous sense of fear.
Overall, the performances were quite good. Foster is really what makes the movie. His Bower is a strong, relatable lead, and I believed him as a character even in the film’s most unbelievable situations. I think Foster is one of the most promising young actors right now and, unfortunately, one of the most underrated. He was underused in “X-Men: The Last Stand,” and his supporting roles in “3:10 to Yuma” an “30 Days of Nights” were some of the few things I liked about those films. In “Pandorum,” he continues to showcase his potential.
Antje Traue also gives a solid performance as Nadia, one of the survivors Bower meets on the ship. But a few of the other supporting performances left something to be desired. “Twilight’s” Cam Gigandet may be nice to look at, but that’s about all he has to offer in this film. His character, Gallo, plays a key role in the second half of the film, but Gigandet distracts from the significance of his role by overacting. Quaid’s performance is also uneven. At times he does a decent job, while the rest of the time he takes note from Gigandet and overacts as well.
Overall I was very intrigued by the story and it held my attention from beginning to end, but toward the end of the film it felt as though writer Travis Milloy got a little carried away with the direction of the story. But no matter how often I thought I knew what was coming next, I was consistently surprised.
If you want a truly high-quality sci-fi thriller set aboard a spacecraft, I suggest renting “Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle’s superior “Sunshine.” But especially in this downtime between summer blockbusters and Oscar hopefuls, “Pandorum” is definitely worth the ticket price.
Follow Alexa Milan on Twitter at http://twitter.com/alexamilan.