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Monday, October 12, 2009

5. Pandorum

Dir. Christian Alvart
Fright Level: 3/10
Scare type: Claustrophobia, survival horror, psychological.
Subgenre: Sci-fi/horror, the ghost ship.

It is difficult to find good reviews of true genre films. Few critics have the guts to really give even a balanced review of a good genre film, and fanboys tend to swing to extremes. Along with a rather poor job of supporting the film, the terrible reviews have really hurt this film. Most of those reviews are worthless. Just because a film looks like something else, recalls other works, doesn't mean it isn't a work that should be considered for its own merits. And most of them use Alien as the reference point, when in fact, other than the dead ship motif and its art direction, its nothing like Alien (a survival and then there were none type monster film), and it bares far more resemblance to the Sartre inspired Cube.

I find genre films more interesting than most other films precisely because of this dialogic communication. What these critics most likely are aware of is the unfortunate development of modern auteur theory, which privileges the individual, rather than the theories of someone like Bakhtin. In fact, its interesting that so much literary theory has informed film criticism, yet literature which refers to, borrows from, alludes to, and quotes other works (Nobokov, Joyce, and in sci-fi Gene Wolfe) are celebrated as the best of their fields; if a film does such things its derivative.

Pandorum, a rare German-American co-production for a non-art film, is a solid sci-fi horror thriller. It has a great atmosphere. It looks amazing, though I have to admit that it is, at times, a bit hard to tell what exactly is going on in some of the action scenes. Ben Foster gives an excellent performance, and Dennis Quaid is solid. The film unravels as the film tries to get too psychological in the last 15 minutes, and is quite reminiscent of the equally messy last sequence of Event Horizon. But the film is to be commended in the fact that the film leaves a lot open for interpretation.

There's a lot that doesn't work, but this is a film that doesn't' deserve what its gotten so far.

Similar films: Event Horizon, Cube, The Descent, Solaris.

1 comment:

erin said...

I find it funny that you find this more in the same vein as a Tarkovsky film than Antichrist. (I haven't seen either of these, so I take your word for it, so the funny thing is Lars was trying so hard to be Tarkovsky and failed, not that you made the comparison) Unless you are talking about the remake of Solyaris with the Clooney then nevermind.