The story of “Pandorum” is this: By the year 2174, the planet Earth has become significantly overpopulated; the only possible solution to the overcrowding is to send a large spaceship of humans to a potentially life-sustaining new planet in another galaxy. Stored in hyper-sleep for the duration of their 300-year journey, they are the last hope for the human race.
The above could have been a satisfying stand-alone plot for a sci-fi thriller, if put in capable hands. Unfortunately for this $40-million production, it’s not enough. Rather, you’re seated throughout the duration of a barely average zombie flick that comes across as a pale imitation of the exceedingly superior British horror film, “The Descent.”
Even the film’s titular concept, “pandorum” (where a space-induced psychological breakdown leads people to the irrationality and paranoia of killing fellow space cadets), is based roughly on the concept in “The Descent,” where it’s every man for himself. A few shots are straight from the 2005 flick, including a scene from the trailer that depicts a group of people peeking above a pool of blood to hide from their predators. Suffice to say, the films could have shared a screenwriter or three.
Featuring Dennis Quaid as Col. Payton, Ben Foster as Lt. Bower and Cam Gigandet as Gallo, the film’s cast is talented enough to pull off a serviceable horror flick. But you add a non-English-speaking Vietnamese warrior and a butt-kicking female protagonist whose one-dimensional character can be summed up by her bountiful cleavage, and you start to run into problems.
The film runs into further trouble with its laughable rendering of its mutant human creatures: While their appearance is creepy enough at first, conceptually, they are ridiculous. For one, they wear lit body armor, which completely contradicts their otherwise underground adaptations. Secondly, cannibals that go straight for your intestine don’t usually make things fair in a fight by tossing you a sword when you’re lacking a battle weapon.
Furthermore, the movie’s revelatory scenes were cut too quickly and too close together, so any viewer not paying close enough attention would lose the whole concept of the movie’s overarching conflict. And although the ending forms a twist, there wasn’t much surprise in it. In fact, I was left pretty underwhelmed.
But, if you like yourself some science fiction, or even just a piece of the quickly aging Dennis Quaid, the movie is worth borrowing from a friend one day just to fill some time. Sadly, I wouldn’t say much more for the motion picture.