Largely dismissed as yet another Alien carbon, the science-fiction/horror hybrid Pandorum exceeds the limits of that critique with an agreeable mix of atmospherics and high-voltage scares. Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid--two consistently watchable actors, and both well used here--are top-billed as a pair of space travelers who awake from lengthy hibernation with no idea who they are or how they got aboard a vast and seemingly empty spacecraft. Their exploration of the ship uncovers not only a handful of fellow humans, among them martial arts champ Cung Le and French scientist/requisite eye candy Antje Traue, but a host of feral mutants with unpleasant designs on them. Director Christian Alvert, who gained international acclaim among genre viewers with his thriller Antibodies, keeps viewers engaged and unsettled with shadow-steeped cinematography and elaborately creepy production design, though his own attention span, which can be charitably described as blink and you'll miss it, obscures the clashes between the human and monster cast. However, Alvert has a few twists up his sleeve for the finale--one inspired, the other, less so--which not only helps to smooth over any of Pandorum's rougher edges, but also indicates that he's a genre director to watch. --Paul Gaita
Stills from Pandorum (Click for larger image)
In Pandorum, Dennis Quaid (Vantage Point, The Express) and Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, Alpha Dog) join Cam Gigandet (Never Back Down, Twilight), Cung Le (Tekken, Fighting), newcomer Antje Traue, and director Christian Alvart (Antibodies) to tell the terrifying story of two crew members stranded on a spacecraft who quickly – and horrifically – realize they are not alone. Two astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. It’s pitch black, they are disoriented, and the only sound is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the ship. They can’t remember anything: Who are they? What is their mission? With Lt. Payton (Quaid) staying behind to guide him via radio transmitter, Cpl. Bower (Foster) ventures deep into the ship and begins to uncover a terrifying reality. Slowly the spacecraft’s shocking, deadly secrets are revealed…and the astronauts find their own survival is more important than they could ever have imagined.