Gallo:Ever witnessed the symptoms firsthand? It's not something you can easily detect, starts with a shiver, an itch, a slow boil, the biological side effects of flying deep space feeding into paranoia and a paranoid brain feeding the side effects - a downward spiral. There is no shutting off the heat. No matter what you do, it'll boil over.
Pandorum is a sci-fi / horror film released in September of 2009 and starring Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster, which echoes The Time Machine, The Star Lost, When Worlds Collide, and Alien. Bower (Foster), a flight engineer on board a colony sleeper 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 passengers have resorted to survival of fittest mode due to being hunted by roving bands of mysterious tribal flesh-eating troglofaunal hominids.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?
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
Adam and Eve Plot: Barely averted; at the end, it looks as though Bower and Nadia are all that remains of humanity, until other lifepods begin bobbing to the surface.
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.
And I Must Scream: The crewman and other passengers ejected into space by their insane colleague.
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 decends into this as a result of developing Pandorum. As it happens, that was the reason the crew cycle got screwed up to begin with, causing all of the other problems in the film.
Bittersweet Ending: Humanity survives but they have to rebuilt society from scratch with a population of 1,213 and Bower has Pandorum.
Blue and Orange Morality: Hunter's have a culture similar to that of savage tribes in reality where they favor conflict and cannibalism. This culture was founded by Gallo and their ancestors to combat overpopulation.
Blood Knight: The insane passengers on-board the Eylsium would fight each other to the death and feed on the fallen as part of a "nasty game" and their descendants (the hunters) continued practicing this. They watch one of their own fight the trio to the death and feed on its corpse after they kill it. And again, when Manh and the hunter leader fight one on one, he tosses Manh's spear back to him.
Cannibal Tribe: The Hunters continuing what Gallo started with their ancestors as a cultural norm.
Central Theme: According to the director, survival is a major theme in the film. That each character represents how civilized they are and how much they are about survival.
Claustrophobia: Bower panics when he wakes up seemly trapped in his hyper sleep pod and when he gets stuck in a vent. Happens again at the end of the film's climax where he and Nadia are trapped on the bridge with no way out which drives him insane.
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. It also said this in the trailers.
One alternate cover shows a man's face crammed full of tubing. We never see this happen, although the tubing is present. It's the life-support system in a hypersleep pod.
Payton has just given a Motive Rant full of crazy, and is trying to generate a Face-Heel Turn via Breaking Speech. When he succeeds in goading his victim into firing off a wild shot, it cracks the glass and drowns him.
Manh gets killed by the Hunter kid they didn't kill when they had the chance.
Death of a Thousand Cuts: Nadia, Mahn and Bower manage to take down a hunter 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.
Escape Pod: The Cryotubes are designed to serve as this in a secondary role. It is stated to be tantamount to suicide in deep space, however, given that there is nobody to pick them up, nowhere for them to land, and they can only power themselves for a few days at most.
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.
Happy Flashback: Bower remembers being interested in the flight since he was a child and memories of his wife, serving as part of his inspiration to fix everything and save her. Until he remembers that she left him back on Earth. She was never on the ship, meaning she vanished with the planet.
Heroic Sacrifice - Manh draws the Hunters away to give Bower and Nadia a chance to restart the reactor.
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.
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 troglodytic cannibals. A few thousand are still frozen in cryosleep. Maybe a dozen or so at 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.
Mahn is an agricultural worker who also just happens to be a martial arts expert, both with and without weapons (played by professional fighter Cung Le).
Misanthrope Supreme: Gallo rants about how the aspects of human civilization such as law, order, morality are petty concepts which led to overpopulation. That they should create a new world to replace humanity with the ship in a natural state, which is an obvious reference to the tribal Hunters.
Mission Control - Payton, using the radio and his hand-cranked control panel to help Bower on his mission to restart the reactor. Naturally, this leads directly into Mission Control Is Off Its Meds when Payton succumbs to Pandorum.
Monumental Damage - One of the flashbacks on Earth is set in the vicinity of Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, having apparently been turned into a decaying slum.
The 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.
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.
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 however have good signage, and no clear routes between important areas of the spaceship - such as the flight deck and the reactor core.
Also the Escape Pods being ejected into space by a single crewmember, instead of a system (as in nuclear launch silos) where two people have to work in conjunction.
Ontological Mystery: Bower and Payton wake up with 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?
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.
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!
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 for heroes where the memories of their "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."
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. Gallo driving the passengers insane and converting them into savage cannibals.
Rope Bridge: The rickety platform leading to the reactor.
Running Gag: Bower seems to fall out of something about every few minutes.
Satan: Who Gallo seems to be a metaphor of based on his negative views of God and morality. Also, there is Leland's statement.
Leland: He was both God and the Devil!
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.
Sleeper Ship: The Elysium. The passengers and most of the crew are kept in stasis in the cryopods, with the crew waking up in shifts to operate the ship. At least, that was the plan.
The Social Darwinist: Gallo believes that literal dog eat dog tactics would prevent overpopulation from happening again.
Gallo: They fucked up our planet! Life eats life!
Space Madness: The titular Pandorum, stated to be due to a combination of paranoia, emotional stress, and the physiological stresses of deep-space travel.
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.
Mahn not killing the kid as soon as he saw it probably counts...
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.
Tsundere: Nadia mugs Bower twice, gives him some, and even puts a knife to his neck when he touches her. However, she asks if he is okay after making him fall from a great distance and gives him emotional support after founding out his ex-wife left him and vanished along with Earth.