JANUARY 11, 2010
As I predicted, Pandorum plays better on a 2nd viewing, and additional bonus points are awarded for watching it at home, where the confined air duct scenes feel more, well, confined. I’m still not entirely sold on the mutant scenes, and I think the Cung Le character should have been excised entirely (why are there TWO badass fighters on this ship?), but overall I was enjoying the film much more for what it was this time around, instead of being bothered by what it wasn’t.
One thing I definitely appreciated more this time around was the film’s rather simple plot, albeit with this huge backstory (Daybreakers also follows this path). The movie is basically about a guy trying to start up an engine so another dude can open a door. Sure, there are mutants spawned by a reaction to their cryo-chamber feeding tubes, and the destruction of Earth, and the titular mental condition that is causing one of our main characters to suffer the indignity of playing out one of cinema’s most overused and lame twists, but we learn about all of these things along the way, as our hero makes his way to flick a switch (sort of like how LOTR is just about a dude tossing away a ring). The similarity to some recent video games (Dead Space primarily) actually makes this more apparent and admirable - so many games extend their length by making you carry out ridiculous missions that don’t really make any sense that you might actually forget what the overall goal is, but that’s not an issue here.
I also enjoyed the sort of ballsy decision to trust a big budget sci-fi movie in the hands of Ben Foster. This isn’t like when Johnny Depp made that Nick of Time movie and left all of his quirkiness behind; this is the same sort of tweaky, off-kilter Foster performance we’ve come to expect, and it helps give the film its own identity even when things get sort of generic (mutant scenes). Even though I don’t care much for the character, his “conversations” with Le are hilarious, because Foster’s baffled expression has the sort of realistic feel that is often missing from these sort of scenes.
Also on Blu-Ray, 1080p Antje Truae. Nuff said.
(I know this would be a good place for a screenshot, but I can't do that with my Blu-ray player. Sorry.)
The Blu has a bunch of the standard features, but they are mostly worth a look. There are close to 30 minutes’ worth of deleted/alternate/extended scenes, many of which I think should have been included in the final film. In the film, technically inclined folks might notice a lot of awkward edits, and more often than not you will see the scene played out as intended in this section (no explanation is given for any of the cuts, but I assume the bulk of them were for time, as the film is longer than average as is). The only one you should skip is the final one, which is sort of a deleted ending that makes no sense whatsoever. Director Christian Alvart and producer Jeremy Bolt also provide an audio commentary, where some of these scenes are mentioned. They also reveal that the film was indeed a combination of two separate (but similar) scripts, which might explain the sort of unfocused feel. Then there’s a short video that details what happened to Truae’s character’s team, and another that’s a commercial to join the film’s flying program. The making of is rather useless, however, as it’s too short to be insightful but it also spoils key plot twists, which makes it lousy for promotional purposes as well. The only thing about it that caught my attention was the fact that producer Paul WS Anderson was nowhere to be seen in the piece. Since he was the one doing all of the promotion for it at Comic Con (Alvart was out of the country), it’s odd that he didn’t offer up a few words for the DVD. I now suspect his appearance at Con was primarily motivated by his desire to start drumming up interest for his Resident Evil sequel (which got announced the day Con started it - SHOCKING coincidence!).
The audio and video are superb. Anchor Bay’s blu-ray output is pretty much always stellar, and this is one of their rare new (and big budget) releases, so fans are in for a treat in the video department, especially during the brightly lit climax. The audio, however, is even better - it’s been a while since I’ve heard such an active surround mix, with the ship’s “dying” sounds and scurrying mutants constantly emanating from the rear channels. And my system is hardly worth bragging about, so I can’t imagine how good it looks/sounds on a top notch LED display with full 7.1 sound (I only have 5.1). It may not be a perfect movie, but it’s definitely worth watching, and if you’re a good horror fan, you should be supporting Anchor Bay’s blu-ray output so that they continue to pursue it for their library titles (Halloween 4, for example!).
What say you?