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Review: Pandorum

4 October 2009

This week’s movie review is of Pandorum, a sci-fi / horror / thriller / mystery starring Dennis Quaid.  Now, I know what you’re thinking – TEOSO is a Christian blog, why is this guy writing about a horror film?  Well, I chose this movie for a couple of very important reasons. 

The first reason is that the movie I intended to go to, wasn’t even released in my state.  And oddly enough, while the nearest showing of the Coen Bro’s latest movie, A Serious Man, is in Bloomfield Hills MI, it seems that we’ve been blessed with the ability to see Mike Moore’s latest Bush-bashing schlockumentary instead.  Hmm.. think I’ll pass.  But Mike?  I hope your film makes lots and lots and lots  of money, ‘K?  😉

Well, okay… In fairness, Burn After Reading probably would make a lot of theatre managers think twice about the Coen’s.  They’ll just have to make another hit to get back into everyone’s good graces, I suppose. 

The second reason is that I find this guy’s approach to commentary on movies to be worthy of emulation.  A while back, he even did a review on the horror movie, Drag Me to Hell  [Aside:  He spends about five minutes explaining how the horror genre is fascinating from a moral perspective (not quite what we’d expect), then sort of either lets us down or confirms our suspicions, or both, by telling us that the movie stinks].  So, I’m going to be brave once in a while (once in a great while) and venture out to review movies of this genre. 

As a side note, Pandorum isn’t a word in the English language.  In the movie, it is a noun that refers to an involuntary condition.  I think the word is a derivative of the myth of Pandora, which is an apt title for the movie;  but which is not apt as a name for the involuntary condition.  Pandora might not have been able to help herself, but she wasn’t crackers, either. 

Synopsis… Let’s see.  Aliens meets Fight Club meets Momento meets A Beautiful Mind meets Jean-Paul Sarte meets the Biblical stories of Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel. 

Intrigued?  Okay, let’s talk some more.  Pandorum is not:   (a)  a date movie;  (b)  a chick flick;   (c)  a children’s movie; (d)  a movie for teenagers;    (e)  something to watch if you have flu-like symptoms;  (f)  something to watch if you are freaked out by overpopulation propaganda.  And it’s gory and scary sometimes.  I spent about 5-7 minutes covering my eyes.  Also, by my tally, the Lord’s name is taken in vain at least twice  (On the plus side, there is no sexual content and / or nudity .. at least, I don’t notice any during the time I was watching the screen – no accounting for the 5 minutes when I wasn’t, eh?).

So, why go? 

Positively, Pandorum is a movie that reminds us that objective reality isn’t always the same as subjective reality.  The “monsters,” for example, aren’t quite human, but they aren’t animals either  (nope, they’re not zombies).  They might be abominations, but they’re not just about the belly – they maintain families, and have a sense of honor (!). 

The human characters struggle with seeing through the glass dimly on other levels as well.  They extol the goal of survival, but then ask, ‘survival’ for what purpose?  And then the moviegoer asks, ‘to survive another day, and another, and another?  Is that an achievement within a grim reality, and if it is, would it also be an achievement if reality were more pristine?  Is there any warrant left for believing that a pristine reality yet exists, somewhere in time and space?’

How would a sane person answer those questions?  How would an insane person answer those questions?  ..Ah, the plot thickens. 

If you do go, find a way to decompress afterwards.  The movie is, I’m pretty sure, an ode to Existentialism.  And atheism.  I find this text to be helpful: 

And he said to his disciples,  “Therefore I tell you,  do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.   Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.  Of how much more value are you than the birds!  Luke 12:22-24  (ESV)

If reading that seems like deja vu all over again, that might be because you’ve read it in the Bible, or you might have read the About This Site page of my little blog.  To Sartre, I would say, God’s opinion of who we are, definitely precedes both existence and essence.  So there!

By the way, the decompression (assuming that you have the ability, and I credit my being a Christian as being part and parcel with that ability) is half of what’s great about this movie.  The leftover icky stuff can be taken out with a couple of breath mints, a shower, a good shave, and worshipping the Lord on Sunday with His people. 

In the meantime, I probably won’t get to see A Serious Man on the big-screen.  😦 

We’ll just have to wait for the small-screen release. 

Fair enough?  😉

– Elder

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