Sometimes the setup for a film is so tantalizing that when the picture fails miserably, it hurts that much more. Pandorum is certainly one of these instances -- a mysterious sci-fi horror freak-out that misses the horror altogether and bores the audience with asinine characters plodding through all-too-familiar territory. Take one part Event Horizon and equal parts Ghosts of Mars and The Descent, then mix them in a dirty blender, and that's basically Pandorum. It takes a lot from what came before, then sullies things up by botching the execution, time and again. Instead of tension, viewers get frenzied editing. In the place of horror, there is literally a pool of fecal matter. As far as any kind of satisfying mystery, if the picture didn't already lose its audience even before the halfway point, the rapid right turns in the finale aren't going to blow anyone's mind. Unfortunately for the filmmakers, the only thing they blow is a chance to deliver the goods.
So where does a film like this go wrong? Certainly not in its core plot, in which two members of a futuristic flight crew (Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster) awake from a hyper-sleep only to find their memories fried and an empty spaceship inhabited by murderous mutants out for their blood. Fair enough. Add in spooky Alien-type corridors and a mission to get to the bowels of the ship in order to restart the core engine, and there's a solid scenario on which to build a good old atmospheric fright tale. Yet something stinky was afoot in this production -- and it started with the script. The two leads do a serviceable job with what they were given, though, which frankly isn't much. Foster ends up whispering through most of the flick, with Quaid being made to talk into a microphone and relegated to just one set for the majority of the picture.
In addition to those problems, the duo's motivations are a mess. First Foster's character wants to find his wife, and then he wants to restart the core, after which he doesn't want any help, but then he does. Yawn. By the time Quaid gets anything interesting to do, the damage has been done and his plot twist comes off as a desperate attempt to do something special with his character. As far as the monsters go, most of the time they're shown for one to two seconds and are lit by strobe lights, so good luck deciphering anything at all about them, except for the fact that they run really fast and carry around flamethrowers (which they never shoot). In fact, the more one thinks about these things, the more they make no sense. The same could be said for Pandorum, but then again, that would require wasting too many brain cells thinking about a picture that obviously not too much thought went into in the first place.