Pandorum (2009) Blu-ray Review

Pandorum proves that space sci-fi horror is alive and well. It offers the thrills and scares that horror fans crave and all of the futuristic whizz-bang gizmos that will satisfy most science fiction enthusiasts. For everyone else, Pandorum provides excellent writing, committed acting and a gorgeous female lead that’s destined to be Hollywood’s next ultra-sex symbol. Now, you can have this enjoyable film on Blu-ray.

In Pandorum, Earth’s future is bleak. The population has exploded to unsustainable levels. The human species’ only hope is to find another habitable planet. Miraculously, a space probe discovers the planet Tanis, with a similar environment as Earth. The humans build the spaceship Elysium to transport a small population to Tanis over 100 years away to rebuild human life. Some time during the voyage, something goes awry as Corporal Bower (Ben Foster) discovers upon waking up from hypersleep. He can’t remember anything, the crew is missing and his only companion is Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid) who has an equally spotty memory. Unfortunately, they’re also accompanied by seemingly alien life forms that roam the ship’s corridors in hunting packs and have a taste for human flesh. It’s up to Bower to somehow save the Elysium and guide the ship to Tanis or all of humanity is lost.

Pandorum is very well put-together, starting with the cast. Dennis Quaid seems well-suited as the older officer Payton, providing a level head and sage guidance to the younger Bower. Ben Foster’s Bower is also very likeable and has a sympathetic cause. His hypersleep-induced amnesia makes him the perfect character to follow in this strange world, because the audience learns as he does. Newcomer Antje Traue, however, steals the show as Nadia. Her raw energy and dazzling features commands every scene she’s in. The horror genre typically doesn’t allow much room for acting beyond running, screaming and occasionally fighting, but the entire cast makes the most of the time they have and completely sells the believability of the situation.

The film also looks fantastic in every respect. The creatures are suitably creepy. The costumes are logical and not just stylish. Pandorum even manages to present interesting sets that go beyond dark corridors. Even the technology appears completely thought out, ranging from functional, clip-on communicators to hand-cranked computer consoles.

The horror is also a cut above the standard fare. Sure, the monsters are scary, but the scares are handled fairly, with things jumping out of the shadows kept to a minimum. The real horror plays on basic human fears, like loneliness, claustrophobia and self-doubt. The only downside is that Pandorum doesn’t sustain the scares throughout the film, opting instead for more action-oriented scenes halfway through the film until its completion.

Some viewers may also be disappointed in the direction of the film. Most shots seem more utilitarian than artistic, but this is a minor concern if anything at all. With its excellent production value, cast and story, Pandorum is a memorable addition to the sci-fi horror genre.

Blu-ray Special Features

In addition to the main feature, Blu-ray owners will also have a digital copy that they can download to their computers and set-top boxes. The Pandorum Blu-ray is also loaded with a slew of deleted scenes and alternate takes that are definitely worth watching. Audio commentary is provided by director Christian Alvert and producer Jeremy Bolt, which viewers who are looking for more production insight will enjoy. Finally, there are still galleries and two extra videos to help flesh out the Pandorum universe: the Flight Team Training Video and a film short that explains what happened to Nadia’s team. The latter video is probably the weakest of all the special feature offerings as it’s written and acted ham-fistedly and comes off as more of a video game mission introduction. Nevertheless, the Pandorum Blu-ray is an excellent addition to any movie collection.