Monday, March 1, 2010
Pandorum (2009) Dir. by Christian Alvart
Don't fear the end of the world, fear what happens next. Fear is what happens. I had wanted to see this movie since it was in theaters, but never found the time or money to go. I wish I had gone, as I feel the movie might have been amazing in a theater setting. The setting Alvart creates with Pandorum is outstanding! Bower and Peyton (Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid) play two guys who wake up out of cryogenic sleep around the same time. They don't remember much of anything, and are trying to figure out what has happened to the ship they are on, and the people that were with them.
I split this film up into two parts. The first part is discovery/confusion in which the characters spend most of their time trying to figure out what happened to them, as Ben Foster ventures out into the ship. The half has much confusion, which I don't generally like that much, but in this case it sort of works. It is very much needed as a building block for the plot and characters to grow on. This is also where much of the fear from the movie comes, as you don't see as much of the creatures, and they are much scarier when you don't know everything about them. I really hate when everyone else's blog is exactly right about this movie, but it really is a mixture between Event Horizon, Alien, and The Descent. I don't feel like it was stealing though. It felt more like paying homage to the movies.
The characters on this film are what really makes it exciting. It's complete madness, as you can't seem to tell who is crazy and who isn't. I think they are all crazy. I will say it again and again, Ben Foster is the most underrated actor in the business. He is outstanding no matter what he touches. It doesn't matter if the movie is insanely bad. Take Alpha Dog for example, as he puts in a great performance much unnoticed because of a crappy film. Most people never know that it is him doing the acting. He is that good at acting, people don't know it is him. Whether it is Mars in Hostage, Eddie in 11:14, Dave(pierced guy) in The Punisher, Angel in X-men 3, The Stranger in 30 Days Of Night, Charlie Prince in 3:10 To Yuma, or I think everyone should check out his role as Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery in The Messenger. This guys is amazing, and if he doesn't win an Oscar within the next five years I will be surprised. Unfortunately, his counterpart, Dennis Quaid is one of the major downfalls of the movie. His character never really develops until the last twenty minutes of the movie, and by then you don't really give two hoots about him. The majority of his performance is scarce jabbering over a radio, just trying to find out where Bower is, and it's quite annoying. I never felt like Cam Gigandet's character really had any weight until a much needed confrontation with Quaid's character. Cam's acting was on par for what he usually pulls. It started off really bad then got better as the movie progressed. German born actress Antje Traue as Nadia, and Vietnamese born Mixed Martial Arts fighter Cung Le were amazing additions to this cast, and gave it a strong diversity in character. And finally a pleasant surprise I didn't see coming was Norman Reedus (Boondock Saints) in more of a short cameo role. It's always nice to see him doing stuff.
I'm interested in what this movie would have been like in one of those DBOX motion controlled technology cinemas I keep hearing about. A decent script by Travis Milloy gave Alvart a lot of room on this one. He really pushed the envelope on claustriphobic fear, and that always seems to be a crowd pleaser these days. I can't say that I cared that much for the creatures of the film, but I will say that they didn't really take anything away from the strengths of the film. If you can get past the creatures being extremely unbelievable, then I think you would enjoy it. This movie was originally supposed to have a budget of $200,000, so when then found out there was going to be a big budget, I think they went a little wild with all they could do. They had fun, and it really shows. With this only being Alvart's fourth film, and only his second in English, I look forward to watching his previous films along with his films in the future. I see he is already made himself known as the new face of German cinema, and looks to be strong in the Horror/Thriller department. I look forward to him remaking one of his German Films Antibodies into an English film soon. With all things considered, I think Alvart did an amazing job on Pandorum.
I think the major downfall here is that Pandorum was the first of a proposed trilogy, and because of box office mediocrity, we will likely never see the other two done. That is just sad. Pandorum is a good strong movie, not as good as Event Horizon or Alien, but better than The Descent. It's definitely a must see.
Entertainment Value: 8 Needles in Arm out of 10
Cinematic Value: 8 Needles in Arm out of 10