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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Christian Alvart
Produced by Paul W. S. Anderson
Jeremy Bolt
Robert Kulzer
Written by Travis Milloy
Christian Alvart
Starring Dennis Quaid
Ben Foster
Cam Gigandet
Antje Traue
Cung Le
Eddie Rouse
Music by Michl Britsch
Cinematography Wedigo von Schultzendorff
Editing by Philipp Stahl
Studio Constantin Film
Impact Pictures
Distributed by Overture Films
Release dates
  • September 25, 2009 (2009-09-25) (United States)
  • October 2, 2009 (2009-10-02) (United Kingdom)
Running time 108 minutes[1]
Country Germany
United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget US$33 million
Box office $20,645,327[2]

Pandorum is a German-American 2009 post-apocalyptic ecological science fiction film, with elements of Locked Room Mystery, Horror, and Survival Adventure. Written by Travis Milloy, directed by Christian Alvart and produced by Paul W.S. Anderson. The film stars Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster. Filming began in Berlin in August 2008. Pandorum was released on September 25, 2009 in the United States,[3] and on October 2, 2009 in the UK.

The premise is that a massive ship which parallels Noah's Ark is lost in space almost out of power, roamed by spear-wielding, scar-covered, bone-spiked armored Hunters akin to Morlocks. They are physically superior to humans and this leads to a state of chaos making it every man for himself for the humans on board. The film's title is a nickname of fictional psychosis called "Orbital Dysfunctional Syndrome" (ODS for short) caused by deep space and triggered by emotional stress leading to severe paranoia and delirium along with nose bleed, which prior to the current events caused the captain of a ship named the Eden to believe the flight was cursed. The mystery is centered around what's going on, what had happened on the ship for it to reach its current state, what is the mission, what happened to the rest of the crew, what the creatures are, and where they came from.


In 2174, the human population has grown to the point of exceeding the carry capacity of Earth, causing humanity to build a sleeper ship/interstellar ark named Elysium. The mission is to send 60,000 people on a 123-year trip to an Earth-like planet named Tanis to establish civilization there. Eight years into the mission the ship receives a transmission from Earth in multiple languages before speaking in English "You're all that's left of us. Good luck, God Bless, and godspeed". Some time later two astronauts of the flight crew, an altruistic claustrophobe named Corporal Bower and his level headed Lieutenant named Payton, have awakened in a hyper-sleep chamber by power surges aboard. Due to being under general anesthesia during hyper-sleep for eight years, they are both experiencing drug-induced amnesia. Bower ventures deep into the now seemingly abandoned ship to jump-start the reactor to take control of the ship before it dies, along with everyone on board. He remembers how he was inspired by the flight since childhood, along with his wife being on board the ship and he is suffering from the earlier stages of Pandorum after having a claustrophobic panic attack.

However, he encounters pale-skinned tribal warrior hunters with heightened sense of smell and strength. They practice both endocannibalism and exocannibalism, hanging humans from ropes and cutting their stomachs open. He also meets two members who have become egocentric lone wolf survivalists because they believe the flight crew to be dead thus resorted to survival-of-fittest tactics. The first being a former geneticist of an institute in Brandenburg who has survived for months by mugging others. She initially acts cynical and hostile towards Bower, but later warms up to him after he saves her life from the other survivor, an old cook who survived for years by shamefully feeding on both the hunters and humans along with algae covering the ship. Named Nadia and Leland respectively, the survivors join him when they realize that Bower can fix and fly the ship. He also finds an ally in a selfless and persistent non-English speaking agriculturist, who saves him several times, named Manh.

Meanwhile, Payton encounters a strange young man named Cpl. Gallo, who emerges nude and filthy from the interior of the ship. The corporal claims he had to kill his team in self-defense because they developed Pandorum as Earth mysteriously vanished on their way to Tanis and they are now lost in space. The aftermath is depicted on drawings on the walls of Leland's lair and he explains the origin of the hunters and their cannibalistic behavior based on what he heard from others. Gallo had developed Pandorum and affected many others on board with it as the drawings depict him along with other passengers with electric sparks around their heads, hinting something abnormal with their minds, along with blood pouring from their noses. He then psychologically manipulated the other psychotics into exiling themselves on the ship to play a nasty game which involved them fighting, hanging each other from ropes, cutting their stomachs open, and feeding on their own. Eventually, he went back into hyper-sleep, leaving the Elysium to become a generation ship. It is hinted that the hunters are the descendants of the psychotic cannibals who have evolved over the course of successive generations into a troglofaunal species and are apparently continuing the game Gallo started with their ancestors as tradition. This was due to an enzyme given to the members through their feeding tubes in hyper-sleep that was supposed to both help their bodies adjust to the conditions on Tanis and speed up evolutionary ecological selection. Instead, they adapted to the conditions of their low sunlit ship.

It is also revealed that Bower's wife left him, with nothing else left for him on Earth, he enlisted on the mission to find a place in history, while she remained on Earth and vanished along with it, which causes him to grieve to the point of giving up. Out of empathy, Nadia gives emotional support to help him remain optimistic and motivated, saying she saved his life, and that humanity was meant to survive. This helps him to move on but he remembers something about Payton. When the group finally reach the reactor, Manh distracts the cannibals in order for Bower to jump start the reactor. Manh is cornered by their leader but refuses to die without a fight so the creature gives him a weapon to defend himself, which leads to a one-sided battle in the monster's favor. However, the creature's arrogance leads to Mahn getting lucky and manages to kill it, but he is killed when he hesitates to slay its child.

The remaining three then head to the control room to gain control of the ship, where Gallo and Payton are. There it is revealed that Payton is not really who he thinks he is and that Gallo is Payton's hallucination of his younger self; his own memories playing mind games with him. Gallo proceeds to kill Leland who arrives before the others, and is then confronted by Bower and Nadia. Bower remembers what the real Payton looks like and knows he is not his lieutenant. However, the ship is apparently lost somewhere in space where there are no stars and the cannibals close in on them, this causes Bower to have another panic attack and the final stages of Pandorum take effect on him. Gallo then attempts to manipulate him as he did with others, who fell to the psychosis. He tries to convert him to anarcho-egoism and anarcho-primitivism views. Stating that they should create a new world in a wild primitive state with the ship to replace human civilization because its moralistic altruism led to the overpopulation crisis on Earth and that they should embrace predation among each other (referencing the hunters). It's then revealed that the ship has actually reached Tanis, landing under water, and 923 years have passed since the mission started. Gallo attacks Bower and Nadia tries to defend him. In his delirium, Bower breaks the hull's window, flooding the ship. Nadia manages to snap Bower out his condition, and they get themselves into his hibernation pod. The flood triggers a hull breach emergency ejecting the active pods to the surface, while Gallo and the cannibals drown. This starts Year One on Tanis with a population of 1,213.



The film began life as a preliminary script written by Travis Milloy in the late-1990s. The story was originally set on a prison ship named Pandorum, transporting thousands of Earth's deadliest prisoners to another planet; the cannibal hunters were the end result of the prisoners' degeneration. The characters played by Antje Traue and Cung Le were inmates. Ben Foster's character was a non-prisoner who did not trust anyone.

Believing no studio would want to make the film, Milloy thought about making it as a low-budget film shot on video in an abandoned paper mill with unknown actors. However, it attracted the attention of filmmaker Paul W. S. Anderson and Jeremy Bolt, and they gave it to Impact Pictures, who green-lit it. The producers gave the script to director Christian Alvart who was struck by the similarities to his own screenplay titled No Where. His dramatic story was about four astronauts aboard a settlers' ship who suffer from amnesia. Alvart decided that they should weld the two screenplays together, and the producers and Milloy agreed. With the ship now changed to a settler's ship, the use of the word "Pandorum" was changed from the name of the ship to a type of mental illness caused by sustained deep space travel.

Pandorum was announced in May 2008 with Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster in lead roles. Christian Alvart was attached to direct the film, based on a script by Travis Milloy. The movie was financed by Constantin Film through a joint venture deal with subsidiary Impact Pictures.[4] The partnership helped fund the $40 million production. Constantin drew subsidies from Germany's Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg (MBB) regional film fund, the German Federal Film Board (FFA) and the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF). The German Federal Film Fund provided $6 million to the production, the fund's second-largest 2008 payout after $7.5 million for Ninja Assassin.[5][6] Filming took place at Babelsberg Studios in Potsdam in August 2008.[4][5]

Release, Director's Cut, & Sequel[edit]

Ben Foster, Cung Le and Antje Traue talk about Pandorum at a panel discussion at WonderCon 2009.

Summit Entertainment handled foreign sales and presented Pandorum to buyers at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.[4] Overture Films distributed Pandorum in North America, Icon in the United Kingdom and Australia, Svensk in Scandinavia, and Movie Eye in Japan. The film was set up as a possible franchise, so that if it performed well, Impact Pictures could green-light one or more sequels.[5]

The DVD and Blu-ray Disc release occurred on January 19, 2010 in the United States[7] over Anchor Bay Entertainment.[8]

The director and producer commentaries on the DVD indicate that an unrated version of the movie exists but has not been released.

In 2010 fans started a Facebook group – 500,000 to get PANDORUM sequel – To help reassure the producers to make sure a sequel comes out. Director Christian Alvart later became a member of the group.[9]


Pandorum mostly gained average or subpar reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports the film holding 28% positive reviews out of 81, with the site rating it 4.2/10.[10] The site's consensus is that "While it might prove somewhat satisfying for devout sci-fi fans, Pandorum's bloated, derivative plot ultimately leaves it drifting in space.",.[10] However most of the criticisms were actually centered upon the pacing, over edited fight sequences or thought the plot was confusing. Some critics misread the plot, thinking the hunters were the actual crew who have transformed, however the context of the plot imply and even the filmmakers in the behind the scene content state that they were not the crew but the descendants of crew-members that went insane.

At Metacritic, which judges on a 0–100 scale, the film holds a "generally unfavorable" score of 28 based on 13 reviews.[11] Science fiction magazine SFX was more positive, stating that "Pandorum is the finest interstellar horror in years", and awarding the film 4 stars out of 5.[12] Film Ireland also gave Pandorum a positive review, appreciating the film's synergy of cinematic techniques, set design, and developed characters.[13]

The film grossed $20,645,327 worldwide, therefore failing to bring back its $33 million budget.[2] The film opened at #6 at the US box office with weekend receipts totaling $4,424,126.


Soundtrack album by Michl Britsch
Released September 25, 2009
Recorded 2009
Genre Electronic
Length 71:06
Label Königskinder Schallplatten GmbH
Producer Michl Britsch

Track listing

  1. "All That Is Left of Us" (2:43)
  2. "Pandorum" (3:58)
  3. "Anti Riot" (4:17)
  4. "Shape" (2:03)
  5. "Hunting Party" (2:48)
  6. "Kulzer Complex" (4:40)
  7. "Tanis Probe Broadcast" (2:01)
  8. "Scars" (2:20)
  9. "Fucking Solidarity" (3:28)
  10. "Gallo's Birth" (2:22)
  11. "Biolab Attack" (2:25)
  12. "Kanyrna" (3:22)
  13. "The Stars All Look Alike" (4:32)
  14. "Boom" (3:55)
  15. "Reactor" (4:08)
  16. "Skin on Skin" (3:21)
  17. "Fight Fight Fight" (2:56)
  18. "Bower's Trip" (7:51)
  19. "Discovery / End Credits" (7:55)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ PANDORUM rated 15 by the BBFC
  2. ^ a b "Pandorum". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  3. ^ "Pandorum". Coming Soon Media, L.P. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  4. ^ a b c McNary, Dave (May 8, 2008). "Quaid, Foster set for 'Pandorum'". Variety. Retrieved August 8, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c Roxborough, Scott (November 7, 2008). "Impact finds $40 mil to make 'Pandorum'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 1, 2008. 
  6. ^ Koehl, Christian (August 5, 2008). "'Pandorum' secures German funds". Variety. Retrieved August 8, 2008. 
  7. ^ The official Pandorum movie site
  8. ^ "First Word on Pandorum Home Video Release". 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b Pandorum at Rotten Tomatoes
  11. ^ "Pandorum". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  12. ^ FILM REVIEW: Pandorum | SFX
  13. ^ McGlynn, Jack (October 29, 2009). "Pandorum Review". Film Ireland. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 

External links[edit]