Let’s be really really honest here guys, hardcore sci-fi and horror movies really aren’t my thing. Characters with the names of Xyzilligea and planets with local inhabitants with four heads? No, no thanks. And horror movies with enough fake blood per scene to fill a bathtub? Blech. So why don’t we discuss why the movie Pandorum warrants explanation and walkthrough shall we? Let’s get to it: Why the Movie Pandorum Warrants Explanation and Walkthrough
And seeing as though Pandorum is really both a hardcore and a horror film, I really had to grapple with whether I wanted to watch this movie or not. But, I have to say that some of the movies that are the most exciting from a thinking man’s cinema lover viewpoint are in this space solely because they are doing things differently. They are turning the genre upside down because they have to get new viewers. Hollywood on the other hand? Are refrying those same dang beans over and over and over again, and telling you that they are a new lovely foie gras that you are going to want to sunk your teeth into. Right?
So, while some of these movies won’t win awards for set production, or sound design, cinematography, editing, directing, acting, special effects… really any of it, they will win your hearts over from an idea standpoint. And that’s what I have for you today. Pandorum. A movie that definitely won’t win at the Oscars this year, not nominations, heck, even invites… it won’t even win an invite! hahah. But, what it will do is surprise you. It’ll play with your expectations of the genre, and it will make you say at the end of the movie – ok, that was clever.
And since one of the greatest things about Pandorum is its ideas, you’d do well to stop… reconsider your life choices… go and find the movie out on Netflix here, or Amazon, or Google, or wherever, and watch it. THEN! come back and read, discuss, debate what you think happened throughout the movie. How it happened. Why it happened. Etc, etc. Alright? Deal? Great.
Deep Dive Pandorum Walkthrough
Earth is failing. The world is ending. And so, in a desperate attempt to save humanity, the people of Earth send a ship with thousands of people on it, hundreds of light years into space in order to find a new habitable planet. (An idea as old as science fiction itself.) Only this time? Something goes horribly wrong and after some unknowable duration, crew members begin waking up. They awaken with no clue of who they are, where they are, and what is going on. These are the symptoms of long duration hibernation, apparently.
Bower (played by Ben Foster, of Hell or High Water fame) is the first crew member to wake, and he is completely confused. He eventually figures out that he is in fact a crew member of the fifth team. The crew apparently, works in 2 year shifts. And each team is supposed to bring up the next team when their shift is ending, in order to debrief and hand off responsibilities. Only problem? Team four didn’t do that, they are alone, and the power seems to be all kinds of screwed up. So what is going on? Well, soon, a commanding officer named Payton (played by Dennis Quaid), wakes from his hibernation sleep as well, just as out of it and confused as Bower.
But between the two of them, they realize that the glitching power issue is caused by the nuclear reactors jargon jargon re-coupling jargon or they will explode due to a jargony jargon reinitializing the jargon jargon, in the flux capacitors, jargon jargon. Ok? Thankfully, Bower is a jargon expert. And phew, super thankful that he will definitely be able to re-stabilize the jargons once he actually figures out how to arrive at said jargons. Only glitch? Most of the power is down, and it’s going to be difficult navigating Bower over there in time to do the jargony work he needs to do. Right? But Payton will help to get him there from his temporary command post. Got it? Great.
Let’s fast forward through the first half of the movie. We meet horrible space aliens of some kind, that tend to hunt the hibernation sleep pods and eat the colonists as they can. We also meet two other members of the crew, a Vietnamese guy named Manh (played by Cung Le) and a Nadia (played by Antje Traue). Both, at first, seem to be hostile to Bower’s chances, but turn out to be important to his attempted success. PHEW! And after our 72nd run in with the aliens, Bower realizes that the flux capacitor jargony things are near critical. And, with a guess from his hip, he anticipates they all have less than an hour to fix the power problem or they are toast.
Payton’s Pandorum Struggles
As I was watching this film, I was kind of confused as to why the screenplay and the director cast Quaid in a role where he was almost entirely by himself. What were they thinking? Why did they have him playing in a role that was so solitary? And even when eventually they gave birth through the wiring and the ship oil to another character Gallo (played by Cam Gigandet), I instantly suspected something else was up. Think about it. Payton is there, and squeezing out of the wires and cables, naked, and covered in fluid of some sort. It’s the picture of birth. Literally. But a birth of what?
Well, one of the key elements of the movie Pandorum is the space travel illness that bears the name – Pandorum. This is an illness that comes from extensive hibernation, and starts with jitters, and ends with a split with reality… and usually with the death of other crew members. Right? And we are starting to get hints that Payton is showing signs of having Pandorum. The twitching, the jumps of reality. Something else is going on here. BUT WHATT!?!? Well, come to find out, Gallo? He is a younger version of Payton. Payton is Gallo, Gallo is Payton. And the sparring and fighting between the two? That’s just Payton going mad, and fighting to maintain control of his psyche.
Pandorum Revelations and Timeline
Now, the key assumption has been the passengers and the crew are on a hundred light year trip in order to arrive at a hospitable planet. But something feels really off about all of that. The ship is in tatters beyond what it should be. The power-jargon coupler jargons are wearing down beyond what they should be. The ship is covered in strange aliens like its been turned into a wild wild west of space. And the aliens are a breeding ground of chaos and madness, right? Something is really off here. Like off by 180 degrees kind of off, right?
Well, at the end, as Bower is arguing with Gallo, and Gallo is making his grandiose plans to inseminate the universe with contents of the ship… or something… the windows of the bridge begin opening. And Nadia gets the attention of Gallo and Bower to see. And at first it appears as if all the stars were gone. But then it becomes obvious that the ship is underwater. That actually? The ship landed on the new planet over 800 years ago. That the ship had actually arrived at its destination, and had self landed, which happened to be at the bottom of the sea.
And when the fighting between Gallo and Bower cracks the bridge’s windows, Bower and Nadia run to the nearest escape pod, and escape to the surface. And there, as they watch, the rest of the pods with hibernating passengers are all jettisoned to the planet’s ocean surface. And there, at the end, we are told that there are 1,300 or so survivors out of the 60,000 people that originally started the journey. Enough to colonize the planet. And you can be sure that Bower and Nadia will be parents number 1 for sure! hahahah.
“But what about those aliens infesting the ship?!? I’m so confused!!! That’s the only reason I’m on this horrible website!” I hear you screaming at your phone. Well, that’s a great question. One that we actually were given an answer for – if you were paying attention and not multitasking with Fortnite on the other screen. Apparently, all of the individuals hibernating in the pods were being given some sort of medication to allow them to adapt to the assumed conditions of the planet they were heading to. And, seeing as though, the humans that woke early had extra time to evolve over the past 800 years while on the ship at the bottom of the ocean, they adapted and adapted again until they became these horrible monsters devouring every hibernating passenger on the ship almost. Right?
Which begs the question! Are these monsters the future of the 1300 survivors that come up from the ocean? In 800 years will their children’s children’s children be these monsters as well? I would argue, why yes, yes they will be. Now, doesn’t that put a different spin on that “happy” ending they just gave us? Because now we know that they are doomed to becoming this race of zombie like creatures. Hooray! Humanity “survived” its extinction!! Woot woot! Well, sort of I guess. hahahah.
Final Thoughts on Pandorum
I have to admit, Quaid was the only thing that got me past the first 30 minutes of this movie and the painful sets and the gory interludes. I wanted to know what would happen with his character. And I was very pleasantly surprised that his character was the one that was infected by Pandorum. And that he actually was the ultimate threat of the movie. Loved that bit. I also really loved the revelation that the ship had arrived hundreds of years ago and it was sitting on the bottom of the ocean… just feet from land. Just feet from a new life on a new habitable planet. Really clever. Personally? I think this movie should be a cult classic. It was surprisingly clever on a really low budget I’m sure. I dug it.
I don’t know, I kinda dug it. What did you think of it?
Edited by, CY
Some of the cheapest movies ever made have some of the best ideas and surprises out there. That's what we have here with the sleeper movie Pandorum that many of you have never heard of...
Liked it? Take a second to support Taylor Holmes on Patreon!