Scrolling Headlines:

UMass hockey competes hard, falls to No. 10 Providence College in overtime -

February 26, 2017

Overtime goal hands UMass hockey its 15th straight loss in regular season finale -

February 26, 2017

Former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous gives talk at UMass -

February 25, 2017

Anti-racism workshop teaches tactics to fight oppression in community -

February 25, 2017

Providence power play haunts UMass hockey in 6-2 loss -

February 25, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 10 Providence on Senior Night at the Mullins center -

February 25, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

“It’s safe to wake up now” – A Review of Pandorum

3/5 Stars

Prior experience watching movies of the hammy horror genre may make viewers a little nervous about going to see “Pandorum.” All the trailers and teasers showing men screaming as they are dragged away by weird looking monsters in dark hallways may lead audiences to expect the film to fit right in with the rest of the cliché, plotless flicks currently being released.
True to form, the ticket taker cautions, “I would usually say enjoy, but….” he trails off, smiling with an almost pitying look. The empty theater compounds the feeling of intense caution mixed faintly with dread. Then the film opens with a depressing list of dates detailing the overpopulation of the Earth and the expiring resources hardly able to support such a population. Surprisingly, the film isn’t as bad as one might think.

In the year 2174, a ship is launched from Earth in order to reach Tanis, a planet believed to provide suitable conditions for human habitation. Unfortunately, things don’t go exactly as planned as Pandorum, an unknown disease, grips the crew.
“Pandorum” follows Corporal Bower (Ben Foster), a flight crew member recently awakened from hypersleep. Bower, joined by the only other crew member he sees, Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid), decides to search the ship for any other crew, and to restart the reactor in order to get the ship working. Bower quickly discovers that they are not alone, as he soon enters a desperate race to save his life, pursued by monstrous creatures.

While following Payton’s directions via telecommunication devices, Bower encounters two other humans, Manh (Cung Le), from the Agriculture crew, and Nadia (Antje Traue), a biologist in charge of the Noah’s Ark-type animal collection on board. Meanwhile, Payton finds a flight crew member named Gallo (Cam Gigandet), whose mysterious story is gradually revealed as the film continues.
“Pandorum” welcomes the familiar faces of Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid, and introduces some new, unlikely actors. Although Cung Le, a kickboxing superstar from Vietnam, communicates nonverbally in the film due to language barriers between his character Manh and Bower, his fighting prowess speaks for him. Le engages the lead villain in a one-on-one, action-packed battle in the end of the film that can only be described as ridiculous.

Antje Traue, the actress playing Nadia, the female lead, has appeared in a handful of German films and television series, but makes her first American film appearance in “Pandorum”. Eddie Rouse, a supporting actor from “Pineapple Express” and “Observe and Report,” also lends his talent as Leland, a crazy chef reduced to surviving by any means possible.

Quaid effortlessly pulls off the old, experienced leader, who merely provides advice and adds little to the development of the plot. While neither deplorable, nor admirable, Quaid acts as he always does, and delivers a believable performance.

Ben Foster, of “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “3:10 to Yuma,” leads the cast in a stunning performance. Foster connects to his character, and honestly portrays a vulnerable, but determined man fighting for his life. Foster proves he can handle a lead role, even though it is a horror film. His performance manages to penetrate stereotypes of the genre as notorious for poor acting and weak plotlines.

Surprisingly, the most impressive acting came from Cam Gigandet, who portrayed Gallo, a man driven to Pandorum, a severe psychological disorder, by the final transmission from the doomed and dying planet Earth saying, “You’re all that’s left of us”. Gigandet is practically unrecognizable from his previous role as the villain James in “Twilight.” Gigandet captures the insanity of his character, and provides one of the few “oh my!” moments in the film. Deftly switching from innocent crew member to paranoid lunatic to humorous villain, Gigandet rounds out an unexpectedly well-cast ensemble for such a fantastic thriller.

In addition to its cast, “Pandorum” remains a unique and entertaining thriller due to its complex set and elaborate narrative. The events in “Pandorum” take place across the length of the ship, allowing the characters to encounter a variety of obstacles, while further developing the plotline. Director Christian Alvart and set designer Richard Bridgland create an entirely new and realistic world in the film and take full advantage of the scenes the screenplay presented.

As a German-American collaboration, “Pandorum” harnesses the master artistry the Germans provide, as well as the vibrant energy that Hollywood allows. Unlike many other low budget, Hollywood horror films, “Pandorum” stands out as a horror film with a highly elaborate plot. It is so foreign and unique that audiences won’t be able to quite predict the ending.

It clearly presents a goal for its characters, whose dual mission is to prevent the extinction of the human race and to find a way to their new home planet Tanis. However, as events unfold, their journey to Tanis proves a tricky and ever-changing one.

“Pandorum” embraces “Ah-ha!” moments without making them seem predictable or even cliché. At the same time, the entire ending is memorable due to its deviation from traditional horror films. Although the good guy lives and the bad guy dies (after all, this is Hollywood) the audience won’t be able to pinpoint who, or what, exactly the “bad guy” is until they see the film to completion.
“Pandorum” will be a pleasant surprise for movie-goers expecting just another horror film. The combination of acting, set design, and plot easily erase the unoriginal design of the creatures and the exaggerated, and more than a bit tiresome, performance by Dennis Quaid. “Pandorum” is definitely not a film to miss.

Nora Drapalski can be reached at ndrapals@student.umass.edu.

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