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Gallo: "Do you know the symptoms of Pandorum?"
Pandorum is a sci-fi / horror film released in September of 2009 and starring Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster. Bower (Foster), a flight engineer on board a colony ship designed to settle the distant Earth-like planet of Tanis, wakes up unexpectedly from hypersleep with gaping holes in his memory and finds the ship almost without power and apparently deserted. He finally manages to wake up a fellow member of the flight crew, Payton (Quaid), and the two of them set about getting out of the control room they're locked into and finding out what happened to the crew.
With Bower descending into the bowels of the ship and Payton guiding him via a radio and a crank-powered control panel, it soon becomes evident that the men are not alone on board the Elysium - a few other survivors have adapted to survive in the darkened corridors, hunted by roving bands of flesh-eating albino creatures.
Or is it all in Payton and Bower's heads, hallucinations brought on by the onset of Pandorum, a particularly nasty brand of cabin fever that resulted in the murder of the crew and passengers of a similar ship years before?
While it can hardly be argued that Pandorum isn't derivative, the end result is, for the most part, a solid piece of work, the atmosphere tense and Ben Foster's acting as good as one might expect of him.
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Action Girl: Nadia.
- Action Survivor: Bower.
- Air Vent Passageway: Used at the beginning (to get out of the hypersleep chamber) rather than later on to escape as per usual.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Payton is a professional officer who does whatever he can to help Bower reach his goal and save everyone. At least until he remembers that he's actually Corporal Gallo, and the reasons that turned Gallo into an Ax Crazy nihilist in the first place.
- Apocalypse How: Class X, though we never find out what caused it.
- The Ark
- Arm Cannon: Bower's Stun Gun is a slip-on glove; according to the Word of God this was so the character could use his hands for all the physical activity required.
- Artificial Gravity: The Elysium has this, given how nothing is floating in a ship that's about to run out of fuel. Also, because it would be considerably difficult for the horde of cannibals to set up Vietnam War-esque traps. It's actually crash landed.
- Ax Crazy: Gallo.
- Badass Bookworm: Nadia, the biologist action girl.
- Big Bad: Gallo/Payton is probably the closest this movie has to one, since his actions are the direct cause of the plot and the protagonists fight him near the end.
- Body Horror
- Boss Fight: Manh vs. Hunter leader.
- Ceiling Cling: Manh does this after the power is restored and the lights come on, forcing him to be more inventive in how he hides.
- Clothing Damage: Nadia's clothes suffer strategically flattering rips and tears.
- Countdown Sequence: And rather absurdly precise after such a long time.
- Covers Always Lie: From the back of the DVD case: "It's pitch black on an abandoned ship 500 miles from the Earth". This is untrue. It's not spoiling anything to say that, believe it or not, but it is a bit of a head-scratcher as to why they printed that as the first line on the back of the DVD cover.
- Cruel Twist Ending: The ending, and several others.
- Death by Irony
- Death By Sigh of Relief: Manh, Leland
- Death of a Thousand Cuts: Nadia, Mahn and Bower manage to take down a mutant by stabbing and slashing at it repeatedly for some time.
- Earth All Along: The ship was on Tanis the whole time, and hasn't been floating in space in centuries.
- Earth-That-Was: "It just disappeared from our sensors!"
- The End of the World as We Know It: Elysium receives a radio transmission (presumably from another spacecraft) saying that Earth has been destroyed and their scans showed the entire planet has disappeared.
- Explosive Instrumentation: Towards the end of the film.
- Eye Scream: Leland gets a hypodermic through the eye.
- Foot Focus: Nadia.
- Genre Savvy: Every one of the characters has apparently at least seen a few horror movies before.
- Generation Ship: the Elysium.
- Ghost Ship: almost everyone on board is a Human Popsicle. Except for the Space Mutants.
- Gratuitous Greek: Pandorum and Elysium.
- The Great Repair: Bower has to reset the core to save the ship.
- God Is Dead: When Bower confronts Payton/Gallo, he asserts that God died along with the rest of humanity, and that there is nobody left to judge their actions as the concepts of right and wrong and good and evil have ceased to exist.
- Gollum Made Me Do It: Payton
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: Payton VS Gallo.
- Happy Flashback
- Hates Being Touched - Nadia.
- Heroic Sacrifice - Manh.
- Hey, It's That Guy!
- Hidden Depths: Payton/Gallo
- Hope Spot
- Human Popsicle: Literally, as they're eaten.
- I'm a Humanitarian
- And, technically, the mutants.
- Payton/Gallo is implied to be one.
- Irony: The fact that after destroying our own planet through pollution, deforestation and disregard, they start 'Year One' on Tanis by dumping an entire spaceship complete with massive nuclear reactor into the pure untouched ocean.
- Nadia called the ship "Noah's ark," then the ship turns out to be in the ocean and the deck is flooded with water. This leads to humanity starting anew, like the story.
- Inverse Ninja Law: Manh vs. child.
- It's Up to You: the other 59,000 colonists were unable to stop the ship's deterioration.
- Most died years ago, or woke up hundreds of years ago and their feral great-grandchildren are mutant cannibals. A few thousand are still frozen in cryosleep. Maybe a dozen or so any one time are also wandering the massive ship, completely unaware of what's going on. Its a big ship. And only the flight crew has access to restricted areas. Bower has security clearance for areas Nadia couldn't get into.
- Jekyll and Hyde: Payton and Gallo.
- Jittercam: The fight scenes seem to be a bit over-edited in some parts.
- Just in Time: to fix the reactor. Down to the second, almost.
- Knife Nut: Nadia.
- Late to the Party / Slept Through the Apocalypse - Bowers and well most everyone we meet is up for this, Leland is the only character we meet who has been awake long enough to have pieced together a reasonable idea of what happened.
- Legacy Character: According to the writer, Leland was not the one who built the nest and carved down the fate of the crew but woke up much later and merely inherited it from the earlier survivors.
- Lock and Load Montage: Bower loading up with radio and glowsticks before trying an Air Vent Passageway escape.
- Made of Iron: Bower repeatedly falls from various heights onto hard surfaces.
- Not to mention the mutant goblin things.
- Meaningful Name: Several references are made to Classical Mythology and The Bible
- Pandorum suggests Pandora and/or pandemonium; both are appropriate.
- The passengers on the Eden were cast out because someone had developed Pandorum; later on it's referred to as "sin"--the very reason Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden.
- Elysium--the resting place of heroes--was the part of the underworld where the memories of "earthly lives" were erased so that souls could be reincarnated. The characters on board the ship, Elysium, can't remember their lives on Earth and are even referred to as "heroes."
- Tanis (Elysium's destination) was said to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
- Mind Screw: The film blurs the lines between reality and hallucination.
- Minored in Asskicking
- Nadia is a biologist who Took a Level In Badass prior to the events of the film.
- Mahn is an agricultural worker who just happens to be a martial arts expert, both with and without weapons (played by professional fighter Cung Le).
- Mission Control - Payton.
- Motive Rant - Payton at the end of the film.
- Morlocks: The hunter's bizarre biology is attributed to the drugs the crew was given; intended to help them adapt to their new planet, after a few hundred years they evolved for life on the ship.
- Mythology Gag: The rotten corpse Bower runs into belonged to a guy named Cooper.
- The Nameless: Cung Le's character. The credits reveal he's got the (tongue-in-cheek) name of Manh (e.g. Man).
- Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: In the climax, the protagonist asks where they are, do which the antagonist says "See for yourself." and opens a viewing portal.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers say that they are 500 million miles way from Earth but in the actual film they are way further.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero - A version that actually ends up working out for the protagonists. At the end of the movie, Bower is deep in a Pandorum-induced hallucination involving mutants climbing into the bridge through the ducts. This is while Nadia and Payton/Gallo are fighting, so he's pointing his weapon at the walls instead of Gallo. In the end, he shoots what turns out to be a circuitry access panel, causing it to fly off and strike the windshield. Since the ship is underwater, the pressure breaks the chipped windshield, causing water to come flooding in. This activates an evacuation of all the surviving hypersleep tubes and results in the drowning of Gallo and the mutants.
- Nietzsche Wannabe - Payton/Gallo after regaining his memory, complete with talking about how "God is dead" and morality is meaningless.
- Noodle Incident - We never find out how Earth was destroyed, only that they had time to send a message informing the active crew of the Elysium that they were all that remained of humanity.
- No OSHA Compliance: Played with. The vehicle is surprisingly structurally secure given all the things it's been through.
- It doesn't have good signage, and no clear routes between important areas of the spaceship - such as the flight deck and the reactor core.
- No Range Like Point-Blank Range: The 'non-lethal' aspect of the riot gun only applies if you fire it from a reasonable distance away. If you shoot too close, things get a little messy.
- Ontological Mystery: Bower and Payton wake up with Hollywood Amnesia, and must use deduction to figure out who they are and what's going on. The investigation continues after their memories return as they try to determine just what happened to the ship and its crew.
- Or Was It a Dream?: Was it all in Payton and Bower's heads, hallucinations brought on by the onset of Pandorum? How can you ever be sure, when you're dealing with a particularly nasty brand of cabin fever that distorts your perception of reality and brings on paranoid delusions?
- Plummet Perspective: Bower dropping a glowstick down the vertical shaft.
- Pretend We're Dead: Bower wraps himself in peeled-off skin so his smell won't give him away when crawling across the sleeping mutants.
- Reactor Core Finale
- Ragnarok Proofing: Justified as the ship is designed to "outlast our children's children" (a spacecraft would be a useful asset for a struggling colony, if only as a means of power generation). As normal batteries would have died over the years the creators went to some trouble to portray alternate power such as kinetic batteries and hand-cranked generators (presumably made more efficient by future technology).
Peyton: I guess the ship really could land itself!
- Room Full of Crazy: Leland's nest, and also alluded to in Payton's hallucinations. Leland's nest itself isn't particularly crazy in itself, so much as the "cave paintings" on the walls (stated by the director to have been made hundreds of years before Leland stumbled onto it) accurately represent horrifying secrets of what really happened on the ship.
- Rope Bridge: The rickety platform leading to the reactor.
- Running Gag: Bower seems to fall out of something about every few minutes.
- Running on All Fours: The creatures infesting the ship can do this for extra speed.
- Scannable Man: Done realistically. The computer checks their palm print, while simultaneously reading the numbers tattooed on the left arm to confirm they're allowed to access those particular systems.
- Self-Destruct Mechanism: The reactor has no safe shutdown mode... of course the first thing it'd do would be to shut off the life support systems.
- Scenery Gorn: Everywhere you look.
- Shout-Out: To several works.
- The Social Darwinist: Gallo.
Gallo: Life eats life!
- Space Clothes: Nadia.
- Space Madness: The titular Pandorum.
- Starship Luxurious: Justified Trope as Elysium is designed to carry 60,000 colonists, plus a hold filled with pre-fab living units and a genetic bank of plants and animals.
- Stupid Evil: Very narrowly avoided by Leland, who, having to choose between evil and survival, chooses the latter.
Leland: You know, a strange thing, survival instinct... I mean, there's nothing really left to live for.
- Stun Gun: Except at point-blank range which makes Your Head Asplode. The currently popular Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better trope is averted despite the "corridors and bulkheads" look of the movie -- Bower's 'non-lethal riot-gun' fires an energy burst powerful enough to hurl bodies backward.
- Survival Horror: references just about every trope in the genre.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Payton and Gallo are the same person.
- Tomato Surprise: The Elysium has been on Tanis all along - having crash-landed into the ocean.
- Too Dumb to Live: Surprisingly averted throughout the film. The survivors don't split up to investigate strange noises, and when Bower, Nadia and Manh manage to take down one of the mutants, they don't lean in closer so it can open its eyes and jump at them - they immediately stab it about twenty more times.
- Granted, that last one was then followed up with spotting the Hunter leader that calls for reinforcements... but in another aversion, Bower simply says "We should run" before they all book it.
- Transhuman Aliens: The 'aliens' turn out to be the descendants of crazed cannibalistic crew and colonists who'd been given a genetic drug to enable them to rapidly evolve to conditions on Tanis. Instead they evolved to adapt to the savage conditions on the ship.
- World of Symbolism: According to the director in the bonus content the events of the film are an allegory for us on earth.
- Worthy Opponent: The Hunter Leader tosses Manh his own spear to fight with, when he sees Manh is unarmed.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Nadia, apparently.
- Villainous Breakdown: Gallo has one.
- You Wake Up in a Room: In a hibernation capsule, to be precise.