Friday, 11 May 2012

DVD: PANDORUM (2010, approx)

This is the third in what now seems to be an irregular series of reviews of DVDs I picked up very cheaply from my Amazon wish list pf films I was curious enough to try when the price got low enough. This one is the worst by far.

It's SF-horror which is fair enough; so was Ridley Scott's Alien and look how that turned out. But as it is SF I expect a higher standard of internal logic than a straightforward horror movie. I didn't get it and so have no qualms about writing a spoiler-filled review including the twist ending. Don't say I didn't warn you.

The set-up. In the not too distant future Earth is falling apart and a habitable has been discovered some light years away. A massive ship is built and filled with colonists in suspended animation with crew waking up on a rotation basis to check everything is okay. As the ship leaves, the crew get a message telling them not to come back because the earth will be destroyed in about... oh, pretty much now.

Some indeterminate time in the future (I guessed over a thousand years and wasn't far out), crew member Ben Foster wakes up with partial amnesia. So does bearded Dennis Quaid. And they're stuck in a room. Foster gets out through a hatch in the ceiling and, his memories returning, discovers that the ship is infested with ferocious meat-eating humanoids. I say infested; there seem to be lots of them where he and two scientists he meets are, though they may number in their thousands or only a few dozen. Who knows? To no great surprise (I'd already guessed) he learns that they are mutated colonists who were fed a drug (not that part) which would help them adapt to the new planet but inside they've adapted to the ship. Which makes it a pretty crap drug. Apart from feasting on the odd revival, all they really need to be able to do is open a suspended animation capsule and rip the slowly-waking colonist apart. They don't need to be super-fast.

The two people Foster meets and pals up with are a zoologist and a non-English speaking Vietnamese agricultural scientist. Considering the purpose of the ship, and given billions to select from, you'd think everyone on board would be able to speak the same language. And what's the point in these two waking up? Anyway, it turns out that the reactor needs resetting or boom! and that Foster knows how and of course it's deep in cannibal country.

Meanwhile Dennis Quaid has mainly been shouting down the intercom at Foster and talking to himself. Then he finds another crewman stuck in the ceiling and frees him. Naturally we know the crewman is up to no good as his story doesn't make much sense. Like most of the film in fact. He also starts telling quaid about Pandorum which is a mental illness that affects crew in deep space causing them to do not very sensible things like evacuating escape capsules full of people when there's nowhere to go. This has to be an extremely rare condition as only a few dozen people are ever likely to suffer from it -just the crew of deep-space ships. One would imagine that any such people would have been rigorously psychologically evaluated to weed out any such prone to this but it appears not.

Needless to say, Quaid is suffering from it and the crewman is an illusion of his younger self who went nuts on hearing the message from earth, killed his shift members, and put himself to sleep in someone else's capsule. So, surprise surprise, Quaid is nuts. Foster and the (female) zoologist arrive back (the agriculturalist was someone's lunch) having reset the reactor and are just in time to stop Quaid doing something stupid. Quaid then activates a viewing screen which shows the ship is under the water of the planet they were heading for. Quaid then does something stupid -lets in water- and our hero and heroine have to get into an escape pod and escape to the surface. Just as they're recovering, hundreds of other escape pods pop up. Humanity is saved! Hurrah!

We also see -here, I'll show you-
-that despite crashing in the sea, some of it is above the surface and yet this rigid structure has managed to bend without causing any cracks through which people or mutates could get outside. I'm also a little puzzled as to why the escape pods were full of people who were supposed to be in suspended animation containers. Or maybe there's no difference between the two -double duty. I don't know, I'm confused.

But not half as confused as this big dumb movie.

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