Minute by Minute: Pandorum

There’s just a hell of a lot of movies out there, and with an ever-increasing number of distribution channels (theaters, VOD, Netflix, Red Box) it becomes easier to sample and experiment with films you might otherwise ignore. Flat fees and dirt-cheap rentals make it that much easier to try something out and, if it’s not working, toss it out without a backwards glance.

Bureau Chief Dorian Wright has an almost supernatural tolerance for the borderlands of genre film, and in Minute by Minute he gives a stream-of-consciousness assessment of whether or not these fringe films work. In this week’s installment, he takes on Pandorum, the story of two crew members on a space ship bringing colonists to a newly discovered planet, who awaken from their cryogenic slumber to discover that the ship has gone off course and been infested with strange creatures.

A future history, as we’re treated to “milestones” of space exploration that take place plausibly far enough in the future that by the time the dates actually roll around, no one will be alive to laugh at how badly they got it wrong.

You know, I could really do without science-fiction films opening on a long pan over a fake space-ship.

Good thing that cryogenics chamber has a modesty panel.

Oh, good. Blackness.

Something for 10% of the male audience members, I see.

Laser razor. I somehow feel that’s not going to be the only example of a perfectly useful modern device rendered “futuristic” in a way that makes it far less practical.

Nearly-naked Dennis Quaid. I would have loved this move when I was thirteen.

Both our leads have amnesia because of the cryosleep. I’m sure that won’t lead to a plot twist later in the film.

The power for the ship’s computer has to be hand-cranked? Really, movie?

Spiders in the maintenance ducts. Yeah, we’re being set up for the “jump” scare here.

Mummified corpse. That’s the least cathartic scare for the whole “trapped in the tubes” scenario I’ve ever seen.

Strange woman on the ship. Nice twist on the whole “not alone on the ship” scenario, but slightly anti-climatic.

Mutilated corpse. THAT’S more like it, movie.

Feral woman as shoe thief. We’re back to disappointing.

Freaky albino cannibals. Again, that’s more like it.

Twenty minutes plus into the film, and any pretense of being an “are they alone or not” type of horror film is gone. It’s just monsters.

“We are the cargo.” Dammit, movie. Make up your mind on whether or not you’re going to be the type of film I enjoy!

All the tech on this ship appears to require hand-cranking. That’s pretty blatant foreshadowing.

Ah, a cautionary fable about imaginary space diseases that drive you crazy. Because “schizophrenia” isn’t futuristic enough, I guess.

More survivors. Someone really isn’t going to be who they think they are.

Why’d they even bother to give that character a name if he’s only going to last a few minutes?

Did he just get rescued by the Prince of Persia?

So, everyone who survived the accident is either now a free-runner or a freaky mutant albino cannibal. This is not a good endorsement for space travel so far.

I’m thinking that “non lethal” weapons were a bad idea when faced with something that wants to eat your face.

Bug eating. Really, movie? That’s the level of “gross out” we’re going for when there are albino cannibals running around?

Trapdoors. Leading to a knock-off dianoga pit. Really movie?

Okay, so as all the humans get their asses handed to them by ONE of the freaky mutant albino cannibals, I have to ask; since it’s clear that the cannibals are the “evolved” survivors of the crew, how did they turn into super-fast, super-strong predators when their primary source of food would appear to be cryo-genically frozen humans? Surely that suggests carrion eaters or scavengers as a base. And while I myself wouldn’t want to tussle with an hungry hyena, I’d rather a hyena than a lion, you know?

If it takes three humans to kill one cannibal, and they still got their asses handed to them, they really are screwed.

Ah, the inexplicably well informed crazy person. Some horror tropes never die.

So far the “Dennis Quaid locked in a room with a guy and one of them is probably crazy” film is better than the “Ben Foster runs away from albino mutants” film.

Ah, finally, info-dump. Thank you crazy man who knows everything and his convenient pictograms.

This is a shot I will never, ever, like in films.

Creepy albino kid, at last. The money shot from all the trailers. Took way to long to get there.

So, the reactor, which they need to save the ship, can only be reached via a narrow walkway, over a pit filled with cannibals, in a chamber with electrical arcs in it. Industrial designers in the future are all on crack, aren’t they? Well, space-crack.

Ah, the non-English speaking cast member sacrifices himself to save our white, blond lead. We’re still doing that, Hollywood?

Well, genocide is a convenient method for making sure you don’t have to share the new planet with cannibalistic mutants.

Problem solved, but the film is still at least twenty minutes long. This is when we find out that Dennis Quaid has been hallucinating at least one cast member all along, right?

At least our self-sacrificing ethnic character gets to go out in hand to hand with the cannibal leader. That’s…something?

Oh, come on, movie, you’ve going to have the one non-evil non-Caucasian in the film kill the cannibal leader and then let the albino kid kill him? That’s playing dirty.

Yep, called it. At least one character is a hallucination

A curiously Nietzschean motivation for a villain.

“And it was Xxxx all along.” Really, movie? Has that ever been a clever resolution to a mystery?

Well, they survive. Until the remnants of humanity slowly die of exposure or starvation.

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