19 February 2010

Pandorum - Not Amazing, But Entertaining!

My response to an article at The Movie Blog that I thought treated Pandorum unfairly:

“The ultimate mystery of the film is essentially irrelevant. Where is the ship now and how did they get there SHOULD have been the ultimate questions throughout the film, but never does the audience care or are made to feel the need to care. By the time the “mystery” is revealed at the end it feels pointless. A big “reveal” in a movie should do something to alter how an audience perceived or increase their understanding of all that came before it (think of how the reveal in “The Sixth Sense” does that), but in Pandorum, it’s just another fact to end the movie that on a practical level changes or would have changed anything else in the movie up to that point, and thus felt like useless noise by the time they finally got to it.”

– Reviewer John C.

So, I have to take issue with this entire paragraph both as a Cine-Fanatic and as an engaged film watcher! First, the “where are we?” question was not and could not have been the central question of the film because this is not a film about destinations. This is a film about “it doesn’t matter where we are because we still try to rip eachother apart!”

Second: additionally I didn’t feel myself ‘caring’ about where they were and I wasn’t upset with the fact that the characters seemed mystified by the origins of the monsters because I do not suffer from that all too common malady of reviewers (and film-goers alike) known as “Omniscient-itus” wherein you project your ability to See All from outside the screen as something the characters too should be able to do as well!! The actor playing Bower was so amazing that I didn’t notice that it was clear to me that these monsters were mutated people! All I knew was that in such a disoriented and hopeless state, I could totally understand that level of ignorance.

(SPOILER ALERT – key ending details below! read no further to avoid knowing too much about the end!)

Finally, the big ‘reveal’ at the end should, as you say, change how you thought about what came before. In amazing films (Sixth Sense, American Psycho) you are completely thrown off balance and find yourself opened up to great new ideas! In pretty good films – and Pandorum is a pretty good film – one comes away having sensed what the end might be ahead of time, but wondering why that ending still felt unsettling. For example, in light of what happened in 800 years on that ship, why am I not completely excited for those people to bring a similar evolutionary trajectory to the new planet? Should humanity have made it? I find myself confused by the sameness of our imaginations in films like this – why do we always see ourselves this way, but still want the hopeful ending?

No, its not a perfect film, but by and large it was very entertaining and thought provoking if you imagine yourself as these few survivors!

AND one additional comment on Pandorum in response to a post over at Globe and Mail:

I'm sorry but I have to disagree with Mr. Reasonable. This film surprised me over and over again, perhaps because I expected it to be a cheesy somewhat stupid endeavor, or perhaps because the filmmakers put in a tremendous effort to craft a haunting film experience.

Not that anyone will win oscars, but the characters feelings of loss and confusion were compelling, the multi-lingual/cultural nature of the cast was wonderfully refreshing, and the ship interiors were far less cheesy than some reviewers accuse them of being.

This seems to be one of those films where it is fashionable to dislike it rather than consider what it is attempting to do and give it the benefit of your indulgence. Considering the crap that I have sat through in my life, this held and entertained me at each turn as I tried to figure out what each potentiality for what was 'really going on' could be doing/could mean as commentary on our current times. Because this film, like all good science fiction, offers us a peek into the underside of the niceness of everyday to where the slugs and dirt of the unsaid reside!

Give it a chance, ignore Nadia's acting, remember that of course there have been scifi films before, but how is this one doing? I say, pretty good!

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