STARRING Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Cam Gigandet DIRECTED BY Christian Alvart SCREENPLAY Travis Malloy MPAA RATING Rated R RUNNING TIME 108 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY Overture
Why does "Pandorum" work ever so slightly more than the Bruce Willis-driven "Surrogates?"
It starts with director Christian Alvart, who seems to trust his material implicitly and embodies "Pandorum" with the kind of natural chills and thrills that were largely absent in "Surrogates," which too often deferred to car crashes and visual distractions.
Then, it moves on to screenwriter Travis Malloy, whose script for "Pandorum" avoids excessive unnecessary plot threads and rests almost solely upon the characters contained within this eerie setting.
Finally, it rests upon a cast that "gets it." They get that "Pandorum" involves both the fears of the known and the unknown equally and both irrevocably intertwined.
In "Pandorum," involves a crewman (Ben Foster) who awakens from a hypersleep into a seeming nightmare on a spaceship in 2174 sent off to colonize a planet believed to be much like Earth. When the ranking officer himself (Dennis Quaid) is no help, the true horror of the situation sets in as they attempt to discover the cause of unnerving growling coming from within the bowels of the ship's symphonic corridors that will undoubtedly bring back memories of the "Alien" movies.
Is this a madness of the mind, a pandorum, or is it something worse?
"Pandorum" sells itself largely because Quaid and Foster sell the heightened senses of fear, anxiety, horror and madness..."Pandorum" sells itself because Alvart maintains a dark and disturbing subtlety throughout the film that makes for moments of genuinely unnerving, frightening and disturbing cinema that will flash images in your mind long after you've left the theatre.
Unfortunately, the closer "Pandorum" gets to the end the more predictable, tedious and, ultimately, the bigger letdown it becomes as the film winds down. While the early scenes seem to be promising an epic space thriller, the film dissolves into a rather methodical game of cat-and-mouse or, more appropriately, human and whatever.
Better than its trailers would indicate but falling short of its early promise, "Pandorum" is an eerie, psychologically involving and emotionally resonant space thriller that never achieves its potential but remains a watchable flick on the strength of Quaid and Foster's strong performances and Alvart's patient, suspense filled direction.