Pandorum Blu-ray Review
PicturePandorum comes to Blu-ray with a perfectly serviceable 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent, which is quite hard to achieve in a movie so deeply enshrouded in darkness, but the presentation maintains clarity, with no softness, no defects and little noticeable edge enhancement. This is a gritty, grimy, dark affair, and the transfer works wonders at presenting this, although it showcases little else. Other than blue flares, green glow-sticks and the plasma-burst of the supposedly non-lethal (even though it happily splatters anything that gets in its way) riot gun, this is a dingy, limited palette of shades of machine-metal and its resulting grime. It looks solid, but blockbuster material this is clearly not, nor is it the kind of content that can really showcase the superiority of the Blu-ray format - other than in terms of the fact that it does display amazing black levels. Limited, but decent.
SoundOn the aural front, things are much more clear-cut. This is the kind of jumpy, thrill-ridden sci-fi horror that relies on loud, unpredictable noises coming from all manner of direction, and the superb Dolby TrueHD track certainly brings out of the best from the surrounds. Dialogue is largely less important than the rest of the proceedings, but comes across as never less than clear and coherent, and is definitely prioritised, and the aforementioned effects get a front stage - whether the disarming chatter of the strange mutants on board the ship, or the oppressive thrum of the engines as they sporadically kick in a power surge, it all dominates your living room. Bass gets a fair workout too from all these flash effects. The score is pretty non-descript, neither memorable nor particularly intrusive, but it does get keen presentation, and certainly becomes more noticeable during the more tense moments. Overall this is a perfectly good audio track.
ExtrasFirst up we get an Audio Commentary from the Director Christian Alvart, as well as the Producer Jeremy Bolt (it should be noted that Bolt and another one of the producers for this movie, a certain Mr Paul W. S. Anderson, worked together on Event Horizon and the Resident Evil movies). They talk at length about the original concepts, the look they wanted to capture with their creation, the set design, and the filmmaking process in general. It is a detailed, thorough affair, a little dry for the most part - neither contributor is particularly animated - but nonetheless interesting material for avid fans who want to learn about how this movie was put together. Shame neither of them really have the courage to admit to the dozens of vehicles that they borrowed from (especially Bolt, who worked on Event Horizon!).
Pandorum: The World of Elysium is a quarter-hour Making-Of Documentary that takes us through the production path, with cast snippets scattered throughout, and the Director and Producer in the flesh. The writer talks about how he was shocked to have had the support of these filmmakers for his story, and they all chip in to talk about the movie - discussing the original concepts, the themes of the movie, the pandorum phenomenon, the creatures (together with the dance crew choreographing the creature movements before applying the makeup and costumes) and the effects. It's a little self-congratulating, and the special effects coordinator is delusional in thinking that these creatures are an original idea - they are merely just another example of an amalgamation of previously done ideas. The set work looks extensive, some of the Director's technical offerings are interesting and fans will probably want to sit through this.
What Happened to Nadia's Team? is a 5-minute prologue-esque accompaniment to the proceedings, a video diary filmed by a crew member that looks briefly at what the rest of Nadia's ill-fated team got up to when they first woke up. This is an odd, almost out-of-place extra, as it was clearly never intended to be used in the final film. Nevertheless fans will no doubt lap up this companion-piece, which is certainly a novel idea.
The Flight Training Video is a brief, 3 minute mock 'historical' training video that talks about events from 2050 onwards, discussing - in more detail - the discovery of the fictional alternate planet, and explaining the gravity of the situation back on Earth, as well as talking about the ship - the Elysium - dispatched to ensure the future of mankind. I wonder whether they might have once considered having this play out in the middle of the movie, when the characters discover what the hell is going on.
We get no less than 16 Deleted Scenes, amounting to nearly half an hour of extra footage. There's more from the beginning when Bower and Payton are first awoken (adding more detail of tubes retracting and a search for food, as well as more dialogue between the two), more from Nadia - explaining her background, an extended capture sequence with more obvious psychosis from their captor, and some extra bits towards the end, including what looked like the creatures procreating! Honestly though, you can easily just skip the lot and watch the very last extra scene which is quite a dark, ominous alternate ending sequence.
VerdictIt's no wonder that Hollywood is making a ludicrous amount of (mostly unnecessary) remakes, as clearly many of their supposedly 'new' projects are just thinly-veiled mutant babies of earlier, superior stalwarts in the respective genre. Pandorum is certainly no exception, another b-movie sci-fi horror of a similar calibre to the appalling Doomsday. Borrowing from a half dozen well-known and well-loved classics, it brings little new to the genre, although it manages to remain mildly engaging nonetheless. The Blu-ray sports a video presentation that showcases some of the best black levels ever represented on the format, and with decent audio and a solid set of extras to boot, fans could do worse than to pick up this release. Newcomers could consider it an enjoyable enough rental, as long as they're prepared to endure the distinct lack of originality on offer. Disappointing.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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