Pandorum (2009) Poster


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  • Newly-awakened from extended hypersleep on the spaceship Elysium, Corporal Bower (Ben Foster) and Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid) struggle to remember the nature of their mission and to find out what happened to the rest of their fellow crew members. While Payton works the command center, Bower begins to explore the seemingly abandoned ship in order to find and jumpstart the malfunctioning nuclear reactor. He quickly learns that they are not alone and that the ship has become a hunting ground for cannibals.

  • Pandorum is based on a script by screenwriter Travis Milloy. The screenplay was actually the result of two earlier scripts, one written by Milloy in the late 1990s and the other a screenplay titled No Where, written by director Christian Alvart. Milloy's script was set on a prison ship transporting hardcore criminals to another planet, while Alvart's screenplay was about four amnesic astronaunts aboard a settlers' ship. When the two scripts were merged, the story became Pandorum.

  • In Milloy's original script, Pandorum was the name of the spaceship transporting prisoners to another planet. When the script was changed to feature a settlers' ship, the ship was re-named the Elysium, and the name "pandorum" was used as a nickname for orbital dysfunction syndrome (ODS), a fictional type of psychosis that can develop during deep space travel. In the movie, pandorum/ODS is described as beginning with tremors and nosebleeds and leading to paranoia, delirium, and hallucinations. As such, it is similar to a real disorder known as high-pressure nervous syndrome (HPNS), which can develop in deep sea divers when they descend to a depth of 500 feet or below while breathing a mixture of helium and oxygen.

  • 1969: Man lands on the moon. World population: 3.6 billion 2009: Kepler telescope is launched to search for earth-like planets. World population: 6.76 billion 2153: Paleo-17 space probe lands on planet Tanis. World Population: 24.34 billion. Food and water shortages are commonplace. 2174: The battle for earth's limited resources reaches the boiling point. Spacecraft Elysium is launched.

  • The Elysium originated on Earth and was heading for a distant Earth-like planet called Tanis. The trip was expected to take 123 years and was carrying 60,000 passengers plus various crew members whose goal it was to colonize the planet. Because of the length of the trip, the passengers were all placed in extended hypersleep, while the crew was divided into several shifts, each shift alternately awakening to service and run the ship for two years before being returned to hypersleep when the next shift takes over.

  • Bower wonders whether they might have been specimens that escaped from the embryonic chamber holding livestock and wildlife re-populations to be released when they reach Tanis, but German biologist Nadia (Antje Traue) says that would be impossible. He then wonders whether something might have boarded the Elysium while in flight, but Nadia thinks that the creatures may have been with them all along. And she is right. As the movie progresses, it is learned that eight years into the mission, crew member Cpl Gallo (Cam Gigandet) succumbed to pandorum, killed his copilots, and then began screwing with the systems, waking up various passengers to either kill them or exile those who had "behaved" into the cargo hold to to play his game, which involved them hanging each other from ropes and feeding on their own. Over the course of 923 years, the descendants of the cannibals adapted to the conditions on the ship becoming troglofaunal (cave-dwelling) and continuing Gallo's game as tradition.

  • It seems to symbolize that there is something abnormal with their minds and most likely suggests that they all developed Pandorum. This is further implied with the drawings depicting blood running from their noses, which is a symptom of the disorder. This seems to hint why these crew members willingly played Gallo's cannibalistic game.

  • Bower asks this question about Nadia's theory that the creatures are transformed crew members. She replies that maybe they were awake longer than them. However, there are a couple of contradictions to this theory, making her an unreliable expositor. The first being that Gallo was awake for decades without any changes. Secondly, it's later revealed that over nine centuries have passed since Gallo awoke others from hyper-sleep, making it impossible for them to be those crew members. It is very possible that Nadia does not remember how the enzyme works due her amnesia and she even states that she is not certain if she is correct. She did say that the accelerating enzyme was suppose to jump start "evolution", but a person doesn't evolve in one lifetime. Populations evolve over generations, so the genetic changes most likely didn't start happening until generations later like natural evolution, but instead of thousands of years it was cut down to centuries. This would explain why they weren't affected at all.

  • It's implied through Gallo's rant that he wanted to create a "new world" in a wild and primitive state where "life eats life" (alluding to cannibalism), seemly because he believes that aspects of civilization such as moralistic altruism led to the overpopulation crisis on Earth, judging from his line "they fucked up our planet". He could be referencing the way predators keep population growth in check in the wild. In the script, it's stated that he created the hunters on purpose.

  • They were feeding on the 60,000 passengers in hypersleep (feeding tubes in hypersleep provided the passengers with nutrition) as well as on each other. Other food sources were shown throughout the film. Nadia had her biolab and is shown eating grasshoppers. When Nadia was leading Bower and Mahn to her lab, water was shown dipping from the ceiling as well as algae covering the walls. Leland used the algae to make soup.

  • When Leland tells the story, he says "that's what some would say". It can be assumed that he heard it from other victims of Gallo.

  • After resetting the nuclear reactor, Bower and Nadia make their way to the bridge where Payton has descended into full pandorum, suffering from the delusion that he is fighting with Cpl Gallo. His memory having returned, Bower confronts Payton, asking who he really is, and Payton reveals his true name: Cpl Gallo. The flight log reveals that 923 years have passed since they left earth, and Bower asks where they are. Payton/Gallo opens the viewing roof to reveal complete darkness—no light, no stars, nothing. "You tell me," Gallo says. While Gallo tries to force Bower into joining in his vision of the "new world," Nadia notices diaphenous, jellyfish-like creatures swimming by, and they realize that they've already made an underwater landing on Tanis. Gallo takes the opportunity to attack Bower again, and Nadia fights him off but Gallo overpowers her. Meanwhile, Bower's ODS causes him to hallucinate creatures breaking through onto the bridge, and he shoots at them. A piece of the compartment breaks away and hits the viewing screen causing it to crack. Realizing that they are about to be deluged by water, Bower grabs Nadia, stuffs them both into his pod, and ejects it. The pod is filling with water, so he gives his air mask to Nadia and holds his breath as they rise to the surface. Meanwhile, the Elysium senses the hull breach and begins ejecting the 1,211 pods still holding live passengers. As he and Nadia float on the water's surface, watching all the other pods popping out of the water, Bower smiles. In the final scene, the camera pans upwards through the clouds until it shows the entire planet of Tanis. A note appears saying: Tanis Year One. Population: 1,213.

  • The film was set up to be a three movie franchise. Whether or not there would be sequels, however, depended upon how the first film would do at the box office. The film had a $33-million budget and only grossed $20 million. As such, there have been no plans for a sequel, due to the poor box office performance. When things like this happen, the book is usually closed for at least a decade, and when/if reopened, rebooting is acquiesced.


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