I have a secret fetish for 1st person perspective games. There's something about the first person perspective that really pulls you into a fictional universe. I was never big on the "shooters" like Doom, but I did love "sneakers" like Thief. Mostly is was the horror aspect. More than any other video game genre, the 1st person perspective games felt like a classic horror movie, where your peripheral vision is limited and stuff tends to jump out at you when you're holding your breath. There was many a time during Thief: The Dark Project when I almost pissed my pants when I turned around and found myself face to face with a zombie.
In a way, that's exactly why I enjoyed Pandorum so much. When the lights go down in the theatre and you find yourself staring at Ben Foster waking up, you're as lost as he is. You have no idea what is going on, and you don't know what he's got to do. There's no exposition until about halfway through the film. The whole mystery forces you into this little box, holding your breath, waiting for that zombie to pop out.
The Sci-Fi/Horror Survival sub-genre has been around for awhile now. The general consensus is that their record isn't that good, though I loved every one I've seen so far. The Resident Evil movies were modestly successful, spawning 2 sequels. I believe it's more because Milla Jovovich is such a kick-ass ass kicker than because of anything the filmmakers really did. I loved what Christian Gans did an excellent job on Silent Hill, with great atmosphere and design. I watch it every few months. Most reviews will tell you that Doom sucked hoary balls, but I can't resist space marine pictures.
With Quaid and Foster playing space colonist, Pandorum falls nicely into that niche. While there aren't any great looking machine guns or drop ships, there are some nice creature effects and costumes. Most of the action is hand to hand or with various blunt or edged weapons. It's kind of like 28 days later, but on a space ship. The plot is pretty easy to follow, though the surprise at the end threw me off a bit. It's something similar to Boyle's Sunshine, where all of a sudden we've got Pinbacker running around like Freddie. It doesn't exactly come out of left field, but it felt a little distracting.
Cinematography wise, I had some gripes. There's an awful lot of camera shake going on here. I guess it's a new gimmick that is replacing the done-to-death handheld documentary style. Whenever there's a creature on screen, the camera gets all jittery and does some weird zooms and blurs. It can get irritating. I do love the blacks though. There are several scenes where you can't see a damned thing. It's perfect since the characters can't see a damned thing. It's a thing I wish Filipino horror movie makers understood.
I was impressed with the sets and costumes. The production team must have had some fun building this. It's not a nice Trek ship. It wasn't made for living. These people are supposed to be in stasis for a century long journey, so there aren't any sofas or curtains or picture windows to see a passing comet. It looks like a factory, grease and grime, soot and solder. It feels more real, and far more scary than if they had made things silver trimmed and shiny.
It's sad that this movie didn't get a lot of press in the general media. It's well made, entertaining, and satisfying. Like most sci-fi films released in the Philippines theatrically, it lasted all of a week. I'm waiting eagerly for a DVD, and hoping that it did well in other countries so that we can see a sequel that the ending inferred.