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Pandorum Blu-ray Disc Review
Date: 01/04/2010
Author: Justin Sluss

The Movie Itself was Directed by Christian Alvart who also co-wrote the Screenplay. The co-write credits on the Screenplay and the author of original story was Travis Milloy. This unlike most cheesy Sci-Fi films you see churned out these days has a really massive production value to it with amazing sets, good CG animation, and most importantly amazing make-up and special effects done by the geniuses over at the late, great Stan Winston’s company (Stan Winston Studios, Inc.).

The film centers primarily around one member (out of the thousands) on board the space vessel “Elysium” which has been sent off in to deep Outer Space to a far off Earth-like planet because our planet has become overpopulated and eventually destroyed. The astronaut “Cpl. Bower” (played by Ben Foster) awakes from a deep hyper-sleep in his chamber, all plugged up to life support tubes and whatnot. He has no long term memory and is questioning why he has been awoke from his hyper-sleep, where he is and what he is doing there. It’s when another astronaut, “Lt. Payton” (played by Dennis Quaid) awakens also from a deep hyper-sleep that he regains a bit of his memory and this leaves Bower and the audience informed a bit more as to what the vessel is, what it’s mission was. Now the real question lies in where the previous shift of crew members are and why they were not present to explain things during that shift change. Bower decides he will wonder off through the venting system and try to make his way past a door that is blocking the path due to the electrical system being down on the ship. Payton stays back at the “command center” of sorts and communicates with Bower as he makes his way through the ship.

The real big scare here, in terms of horror, comes from the mysterious (alien-like) white creatures that Bower discovers have inhabited the ship and apparently killed a majority of the crew. These creatures look very terrifying and are nothing more than human beings in make-up with prosthetics and such. No huge CG animated enemies here, just believable creatures that are downright scary (as mentioned a few times now). It’s that element of this film that does make it a cross between a Horror and a Sci-Fi but for the most part it is obvious the film is about Science Fiction and the eventual reality of deep space travel and future colonization on other planets.

In closing, “Pandorum” is a very impressive Science Fiction film and it shows that Director Christian Alvart is someone to watch out for. Alvart keeps up the good work, he might give folks like Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro “a run for their money”. The acting here done by Ben Foster is phenomenal and the supporting role by Dennis Quaid isn’t one to ignore either. All and all, this proves to be worth checking out if you’re into Sci-Fi and the idea of a future involving space exploration.

Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb’s technical specifications under the aspect ratio, this was shot on Super 35mm film using Arricam and Arriflex cameras. The transfer to Hi-Def from Super 35mm film looks good, with a great amount of detail present even in the darkest of scenes. Speaking of dark scenes, the black level is always important in a Sci-Fi set in Outer Space and I’m happy to report that it is solid here which helps with the detail in the visual presentation. The color palette is at times subdued to the dim lighting conditions as well as the fleshtones but for the most part they do hold vibrancy and accuracy. The film’s wonderful set design and visual style conveyed by the cinematography done by Wedigo von Schultzendorff are definitely both done justice here, earning this a solid “4 Star Rating” for overall video quality rating.
 

Audio Quality on this release is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 & Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround @640kbps. Dialogue is delivered distinctly here throughout the film and requires no volume adjustment what-so-ever. About 30 minutes in to the film or so, once we get our first or second big action (chase) scene you will be treated to some excellent LFE (bass) and rear channel presence in this 5.1 much thanks to the mysterious alien-like white creatures on board the “Elysium“. The sound of these creatures approaching is downright disturbing and some excellent sound design that at times could be almost considered for “demo material“. The overall presentation here in 5.1 is very impressive and the original music by Michl Britsch that makes up the Score is done justice, earning “Pandorum” on Blu-ray a “4.5 Star Rating” for audio quality.

Bonus materials are presented in 1080i High Definition (HD) using MPEG-2 codec for video and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound @192kbps — unless otherwise noted below in the descriptions.

  • Digital Copy is included on this release which is compatible with PC and Windows Media portable devices. Sadly no support for Mac or iTunes here.
  • Audio Commentary with Director Christian Alvart and Producer Jeremy Bolt
  • The World of Elysium: Behind-the-Scenes Featurette” (13:59 – HD) includes interviews with the Co-Writer / Director Christian Alvart as well as cast members Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid. This proves to be very informative and worth the watch if you enjoyed the film.
  • What Happened to Nadia’s Team” (4:30 – HD) sheds a little bit more light on what happened to the previous crew members of “Elysium“. The acting here is not the best but it does help add a bit more to the story itself.
  • Flight Team Training Video” (2:45 – HD) again, sheds a little bit more light on what happened but here to Earth and with the space program that got us to this point in the future; depicted in the film. The narration and presentation here are both very impressive and this featurette proves to be very informative and entertaining, even if it is under 3 minutes in length. There’s also a good amount of footage of the sets used on the film near the end of this featurette.
  • Deleted & Alternate Scenes” (27:57 – HD) run rather lengthy and are definitely worth watching if you enjoyed the film, as they add quite a bit more to the story itself. Most of these scenes seem to have been cut for time and probably should have been in theatrical cut but then again, there is always the chance of a “Director’s Cut” someday with these scenes put in where they would have gone in the film itself.
  • Still Galleries” is comprised of still images of the film during pre-production such as artist concept art and such.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:19 – HD) is included.

Overall, the bonus materials are pretty decent. They are ALL in 1080i Hi-Def and have a total runtime of about 50 minutes or so. Plus, you have the inclusion of a Digital Copy which is always nice to see, even if it isn’t compatible with Mac and iTunes. I think fans of the film will be somewhat pleased with the supplemental materials here.

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