Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Pandorum"- a mediocre movie

“Pandorum” is a sci-fi picture filmed and financed in Germany. Like “District 9” (reviewed elsewhere) this movie is derivative and fairly predictable. The only surprise comes at the end and makes the movie less that a total loss. The movie stars Dennis Quaid (the Quaid brother not arrested recently for failing to pay a hotel bill) and Ben Foster. I liked Foster. He has earnestness about him and he acts with a certain dignity that doesn’t deteriorate into hysteria, even when faced with a bad script. Quaid adds nothing substantial to his role. A synopsis of the movie can be found in Wikipedia. It includes a laundry list of sci-fi staples: a large dark space ship; a forgotten mission; mutants; an action hero (Foster); a villain (Quaid); long dark ship walkways; a nuclear reactor; a female action hero; special effects (not very good). The only mildly frightening scene in the movie for me was when Foster was in a pipe chase hunting for the flight deck. It was claustrophobic and anxiety provoking. “Pandorum” uses extreme close-ups in the human-mutant battles. There is so much action and no perspective for the viewer that it is mostly impossible to tell what is happening. I assume that it is filmed this way so that we do not get a good view of the mutants. Maybe it is also used to cover up poor execution of CGI effects. There is a similar problem in the “Transformers” movies, although they are a disaster on many other levels (think Meghan Fox and her perpetually open mouth). The music attempts to add to the suspense but it just seemed loud to me. The CGI-effects in the last scene of “Pandorum” are very poorly done. For example, the sprays of water are so obviously a digital effect that they are unconvincing. All in all, this is a mediocre movie probably best avoided except on the SyFy channel.

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