Thursday, October 1, 2009


ZOMBIE MOVIE SURVIAL TIP: If left with a member of the Quaid family as your leader in the apocalypse of the undead, please make sure it’s not Randy.


A Sleepy-Head General Hawk; Salvation By Glowstick; Divining Ridley Scott; A Peek Into A Space-Pooper; Space Zombies that aren’t Space Zombies; The Real Paul Anderson; and Al Gore’s Outer Space-Horror Told Ya So.

More details here.


In the not-too-distant future, many, many Sundays A.D., there was a guy named Bower (Ben Foster), not too different from you or me. Well, except that he’s an astronaut who’s been in hyper-sleep aboard a gigantic spacecraft which is headed towards a distant planet that can be inhabited by the members of the crew. Said crew is the last remnants of a dying Earth which has been destroyed by war, disease, and global smarm. Bower is awakened by an unknown force and possesses no recollection of his role or destination, and he discovers he has lost contact with his fellow crew members. He finds who he recognizes as his commanding officer Payton (Dennis Quaid) who’s equally suffering the effects of amnesia. Unable to contact anyone aboard the ship, Payton sends Bower to find his way through a dark claustrophobic labyrinth of vents to get to the central power core of the ship in the hopes of restarting it. Unfortunately, Bower stumbles upon empty halls and rooms, half-eaten corpses, and nightmarish fast-moving flesh-eating creatures which have infested the ship. He meets up with a cute survivor space-mutant killer Nadia (Antje Traue) who has been awake for a while and is fighting for her life against these seemingly undead monsters. As they make their way to the ship’s generator, they fight off the zombie-like creatures who may be the reanimated corpses of the crew who did not survive the hyper-sleep. Alongside the pair are Mayan-speaking badass Manh (Cung Le) and slimly motor oil chef Leland (Eddie Rouse). Meanwhile, Payton encounters another survivor (Cam Gigandet) who might be suffering the effects of “Pandorum,” the deep space equivalent of cabin fever that turns astronauts into violent psychopaths who may or may not crap in their Depends. As Bower heads towards the generator and Payton deals with a potentially dangerous passenger, the pair peel off layers of the awful truth that lies at the core of the ship, its purpose, and its true destination which may be an empty hellish void from which nothing, not even a Quaid, can escape.


Though not a traditional zombie movie, space horror movie Pandorum does possess elements of the genre that make it a somewhat effective scarefest: rampaging flesh-hungry creatures (provided by Stan Winston Studio), a survivalist-fueled plotline, and your typical “folly of man” subtext. Although some reviews has aligned the film with the space horror of 1997’s Event Horizon (directed by Paul W.S. Anderson who produced this pic) which explored space madness and the extra-supernatural terror of the cosmos, Pandorum has more in common with space chiller Dead Space: Downfall (even though it’s animated) with respect to abundance of gore, the ferocity of the creatures, and the production design. But it’s not without its problems. Director Christian Alvart displays a capable style and aesthetic, especially in regards to the near-choking claustrophobic atmosphere he’s able to convey, but it’s in the area of character development that the film falters to maintain interest throughout. This is also a problem with Anderson’s films as a director as well, but his frenetic pace and action set pieces make up for most of that lack. But then again I’m a Paul W.S. Anderson defender and apologist. Alvart deftly crafts a very uncomfortable settings and sense of tension, but without caring for the characters (although Foster, a superb and weighty performer who should be bigger than he is, does the best with what he’s given) all this work is for nothing. Also worthy of note is Gigandet who is intense as the psychotic crew member who serves as the twist at the end of the film. Unfortunately, the movie starts to crumble in the third act when the secret of the origin of the creatures is sort of cast aside for a predictable ending lost in a jumble of fast-cut action sequences. Pandorum would require more effort to argue as qualifying as a zombie movie, but as a piece of sci-fi horror with its share of twists, turns, and atmosphere it’s probably worth a watch in a field of very few effective, although not fully realized, outer-space horror films.

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