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Film / Pandorum

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Gallo: Do you know the symptoms of Pandorum?
Payton: I've seen it before.
Gallo: Ever witnessed the symptoms firsthand? It's not something you can easily detect. It 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/mystery/adventure/horror film released in September of 2009 and starring Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster. A Creator-Driven Successor of Resident Evil (2002) that 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?

Although it was a flop at the box office, the movie, like Event Horizon, has developed into a Cult Classic over the years.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene:
    • When Nadia gives her backstory about not remembering where she grew up or her brother's name. Then she eats grasshoppers with Bower.
    • Later, when Nadia comforts Bower when he remembers that his wife left him and stayed on earth, disappearing along with it.
  • Action Survivor: Nadia was a scientist aboard the ship but she has learned to survive the creatures. Bower becomes one as well through his experiences on the ship.
  • 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. The film gets full mileage out of the claustrophobia, disorientation, and the fact that these were never meant to be traversed.
  • 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 of the Eden ejected into space by their insane colleague.
  • Apocalypse How: Hinted to be a Class X, though we never find out what caused it.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Cooper and Nadia's team made one in a featurette.
  • The Ark: The Elysium carries enough people and supplies to start a colony on another planet.
  • 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 more difficult for the horde of cannibals to set up Vietnam War-esque traps otherwise. It's actually crash landed on the planet they were headed for.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The concept of an enzyme somehow "speeds up" evolution. It could maybe cause more mutations, but whether those prove beneficial or detrimental would be up to natural selection.
  • Ax-Crazy: Gallo descends 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.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Manh speaks entirely in unsubtitled Vietnamese, and none of the characters are able to understand him. Nadia occasionally slips into similarly untranslated German.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Humanity survives with a population of 1,213 but all their supplies and seeds are still on the now-flooded Elysium, Tanis might end up overpopulated like Earth, and it is uncertain if Bower is completely over Pandorum.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Hunters have a culture similar to that of savage tribes in reality where they favor conflict and cannibalism. This culture was founded by Gallo, who awoke their ancestors from cryosleep and pitted them against each other for his own amusement.
  • Blood Knight: The insane passengers on-board the Elysium fought each other to the death and fed 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.
  • Body Horror: The Hunters appear to practice scarification and self-mutilation. Their leader is the best example; he's missing his nose and has a very large scar that bisects his face and his entire scalp.
  • Braids of Action: Manh has his long hair braided. Rather sensibly, the braid is tucked into the back of his clothes preventing By the Hair.
  • Cannibal Clan: Some passengers had caught Space Madness and turned into cannibals.
  • Cannibal Larder: The Hunters' lair is full of half-eaten body parts, including scraps of skin that the human hero drapes over himself to disguise his scent.
  • Cannibal Tribe: The Hunters continuing what Gallo started with their ancestors as a cultural norm.
  • 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.
  • Central Theme: According to the director, survival of the fittest is a major theme in the film. That each character represents how civilized they are and how much they are about survival. The film basically shows how egoism and altruism affect survival.
  • Chekhov's Gun: There is water seen dripping from the ceilings and algae covering the ship, indicating that it's underwater.
  • Claustrophobia: The film creates this atmosphere quite effectively. The Elysium is full of cramped, dark spaces, especially the ducts that Bower crawls through near the beginning.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • From the back of the DVD case: "It's pitch black on an abandoned ship 500 miles from 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.
  • Crapsack World:
    • From what little viewers see of Earth in the flashbacks, it's clear that all was not well. It is later revealed that by 2153 the Earth's population had exploded to 24.43 billion people, resulting in a mass shortage of food and water.
    • The ship as well, which is referred to as a "world". The only way to survive in it is to be without mercy.
  • Death by Irony:
    • Payton has just given a Motive Rant full of crazy, and is trying to generate a Face–Heel Turn via Break Them by Talking. 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. For double irony, he was the one who wanted to kill it and the others stopped him, but when he sees the kid again, he stays his hand. The kid does not.
  • Death By Sigh Of Relief:
    • Manh hesitates when confronted with a Hunter child - who then promptly slits his throat while his guard is down.
    • Leland makes it to the bridge away from the Hunters - only for Payton to stab him in the eye.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Nadia, Manh and Bower manage to take down a hunter by stabbing and slashing at it repeatedly for some time.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Most of the sympathetic characters get killed off, but in the end Gallo is defeated, the Hunters are killed, and Bower and Nadia manage to escape, along with the surviving colonists, to begin a new life on Tanis.
  • Earth All Along: The ship was on Tanis the whole time, and hasn't been floating in space in centuries.
  • Easter Egg: The drawings in Leland's lair depict the cannibal's ancestors with electric sparks around their heads along with blood dripping from their noses. This hints that it was Pandorum that caused the cannibalism rather than the enzyme they were being fed to help them adapt to Tanis.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Elysium receives a radio transmission saying that they are all that is left of humanity. Their scans showed the entire planet has disappeared.
  • Enfant Terrible: The Hunter child who takes advantage of Manh's merciful hesitation to slit his throat.
  • 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. This is graphically demonstrated with the fate of Eden's passengers.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: Towards the end of the film.
  • Eye Scream: Leland gets a hypodermic through the eye.
  • Face Your Fears: Bower conquers his claustrophobia by the end of the film.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Nadia calls the ship a "Noah's ark," hinting at the story's direction. Turns out the ship had saved the last of humanity from the destruction of the world and is in the ocean like Noah's Ark. Along with a flood leading to humanity starting anew, like in the story.
    • Nadia says that the ship was built to outlast their children's children. Which foreshadows that the creatures are the descendants of the crew and not the crew itself.
  • Fanservice: Ben Foster, Dennis Quaid and Cam Gigandet each make their first appearances nearly fully naked - the former giving his abs plenty of focus. On the flip side, Nadia wears a leather vest and very tight, very ragged tank top, and has to take the vest off a lot.
  • Gaia's Lament: The exposition at the beginning indicates that the battle over Earth's resources reached a fever pitch before the Elysium was launched. In one of Corporal Bower's flashbacks, we see him wearing a Plexiglas visor and a head-wrap to shield from a sand storm just a stone's throw away from the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
  • Generation Ship: The Elysium, though not by design. The Hunters are descendants of awakened passengers who embraced a cannibalistic lifestyle due to Pandorum and Gallo's influence.
  • Ghost Ship: almost everyone on board is a Human Popsicle. Except for the Space Mutants.
  • 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.
  • The Great Repair: Bower has to reset the reactor core to save the ship.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Payton VS Gallo. Cam Gigandet really hams it up as he yells most of his taunts, and Dennis Quaid more than matches him as it goes on. Though Dennis Quaid's initial response to the Ham is cool, calm, and collected, he starts firing back with his own Ham after awhile, foreshadowing that Gallo and Payton are the same person.
  • Happy Flashback: Bower has a few to his life on Earth, including the probe landing on Tanis when he was a child and memories of his wife. The latter serve as his inspiration to power through his claustrophobia and the attacking creatures so that he can repair the Elysium 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.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Leland undergoes one, although it's mainly motivated by self-interest, when he decides to help the characters instead of cannibalizing them.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Manh draws the Hunters away to give Bower and Nadia a chance to restart the reactor.
  • Hero of Another Story: Nadia, Shepherd, Manh, Cooper, Leland, and Nadia’s team all pretty clearly went through some interesting adventures of their own after waking up, a few of which are covered in a featurette.
  • Hope Spot: The reactor has been fixed and most of the survivors are safe, with Gallo locked in a cryotube for his own good. Then Payton remembers that he is really Gallo, and undergoes a Face–Heel Turn.
  • Human Popsicle: Literally, as they're eaten.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • The crew on the Elysium who caught Pandorum and their evolved descendants.
    • Payton/Gallo is in the original script.
    • Leland ties Bower, Nadia and Manh up, preparing to eat them.
  • Irony: The crew on the Eden were all killed when a deranged officer ejected their pods into space. The same thing happens to the crew of the Elysium - but this sends them to survival, since they're underwater on Tanis.
  • It Can Think: The hunters are far from being mindless creatures. They have manufactured weapons such as their blowtorch spears, made clothing from pieces of the ship, set up traps everywhere, and have established a warrior culture.
  • It's Up to You: The other 59,000 colonists were unable to stop the ship's deterioration. More than a few of them have been eaten by the hunters upon awakening from cryosleep, while others were woken up hundreds of years ago by Gallo to kill each other for his amusement, leaving their feral descendants to degenerate into 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.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Payton and Gallo. Payton would be the Jekyll persona - the responsible and considerate authority figure. Once Gallo takes over, he fits the Hyde persona to the letter.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The creature's origins confused many viewers and likely on purpose. The film leaves out a some crucial details that the audience is left to fill in. This critique actually puts all the pieces together.
  • Jitter Cam: 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.
  • Late to the Tragedy: Bower and most everyone we meet. 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.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Combined with It Can Think. When the Hunter leader corners a weaponless Manh, who puts up his dukes to try and take on the stronger, faster, and armed monster, the Hunter throws Manh a spear.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Bower loading up with a radio and glowsticks before trying an Air-Vent Passageway escape.
  • Lost Colony: The ship is a 'Noah's Ark' full of colonists and supplies to start a colony on a new planet. But it's hundreds of years after they were supposed to land on said planet, and no one knows what diverted the mission.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Bower repeatedly falls from various heights onto hard surfaces, not to mention being thrown around by the Hunters. He doesn't have so much as a limp by the end of the film. It should be noted, all these surfaces are solid metal.
    • Not to mention the neo-morlocks. One of them is able to take an absurd amount of punishment from Bower, Nadia, and Manh.
    • Even the other survivors with Bower take some rather extreme punishment, including Nadia getting stabbed at least once, and all seem to just walk it off.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Gallo had psychologically manipulated other passengers and crew members into being cannibals and tries this with Bower near the end of the film.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Pandorum = Paranoia+Delirium, along with being a likely nod to Pandora's Box.
    • Tanis (Elysium's destination) was said to be the resting place of The Ark of the Covenant.
    • Elysium, of course, is a nod to the Greek concept of an afterlife reserved for relatives of the gods, heroes, and others chosen by the gods. Gets a Lampshade Hanging during one of the flashbacks, with an advertisement declaring that Elysium is "a heaven for heroes".
    • Eden, a space ship named for the Garden of Eden. Her crew is cast out (into space) when one of her crew goes insane and purges the cryopods.
    • The character with the last name Shepherd becomes a Sacrificial Lamb to demonstrate how brutal the Hunters are.
  • Messy Hair: Nadia's hair is damp, greasy, and a mess of tangles. Given that she's been awake for around six months, it's likely she's barely had any chances to actually wash.
  • Mile-Long Ship: The Elysium is enormous, more a flying city than a spaceship. Given its purpose, the sheer amount of storage space and crew capacity required justifies its size.
  • Mind Screw: Gallo tries to convince Bower that the Hunters are just figments of his imagination, brought on by the effects of Pandorum. However it's pretty clear that the creatures are indeed real.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Gallo rants about how the aspects of human civilization such as law, order, morality are petty concepts that 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 remembers he's Gallo and 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: Like the morlocks the Hunters are cannibals who are troglofaunal and the descendants of humans. But their bizarre biology is attributed to an enzyme the crew was given to speed up evolution so their bodies would adapt to Tanis quicker. So unlike the morlocks the crew's descendants adapted to the conditions on the ship after nearly a millennium(923 years), instead of underground after several millennium.
  • Mythology Gag: The rotten corpse Bower runs into belonged to a guy named Cooper.
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: In the climax, Bower asks where they are, to which Payton says "See for yourself." and opens the bridge's 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. They also show Bower's wife 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 and walls. 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 sound 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. And the Escape Pods can be ejected into space by a single crewmember, instead of a Two-Keyed Lock.
    • Many doors between the flight deck and the reactor are stuck closed due to the power failures, requiring many detours. The roving bands of mutants don't make it easier. Leland, Nadia, and Bower make it from the reactor to the flight deck within minutes once the power is restored.
    • At the same time, the doors apparently have some sort of safety override that prevents them from turning someone caught in them when they close into Half the Man He Used to Be. Either that or the pneumatics in them simply weren't build strong enough to do so, as a matter of common sense.
    • The ship's systems are sufficiently advanced to detect hazards such as a hull breach, yet it doesn't seem to be able to contain it. It could've been easily stopped by closing the bridge's windows or closing the bridge's doors.
  • No Name Given: Antje Traue, Cung Le, and Eddie Rouse's characters. The credits reveal their names to be Nadia, Manh, and Leland. It's entirely possible that Nadia doesn't remember her own name at all.
  • 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 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?
  • The Paralyzer: 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. This is probably justified, since bullets and spaceship hulls don't tend to mix well.
  • Plummet Perspective: Bower dropping a glowstick down the vertical shaft.
  • Posthumous Character: Bower and Payton's shift-mate Cooper. the final act reveals that Bower's wife, and the real Payton are also this.
  • 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.
  • Race Against the Clock: Bower has to reset the reactor before a total power shutdown kills everyone on the ship.
  • Ragnarök 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 and/or spare parts). 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).
    Payton: I guess the ship really could land itself!
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: Manh speaks entirely in unsubtitled Vietnamese and heavy pantomime. The few times Nadia speaks German, it's left to the audience to figure out what she's saying.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Some of the criticisms against the movies were this. Some complain that the Hunters looked too much like the Crawlers from The Descent and accuse the film of being lazy. However, this criticism overlooks the fact that like the crawlers, the Hunters have evolved to adapt to the dark, cramped conditions on the ship, thus acquiring troglofaunal characteristics like pale skin.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Lieutenant Payton is a consummate professional officer and a crucial asset to Corporal Bower's efforts to save the ship, feeding his subordinate instructions and reassurance over the radio to keep him going. Unfortunately, his reasonableness goes out the window along with his sanity when his Amnesiac Dissonance is resolved.
  • Red Herring:
    • Gallo and Payton's scene is making the viewer think the ship is in space when it really isn't.
    Gallo: The stars all look alike.
    • The trailers and filmmakers make it seem like The Hunters are passengers and crew members turned into zombies. But they are actually the descendants of the passengers and crew who have deteriorated into Morlock-esque creatures due to suffering from Pandorum.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: 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 can't remember their lives on Earth and are even referred to as "heroes."
  • Replacement Goldfish: Judging by the dehydrated corpse of Cooper that Bower finds, he probably isn't the first person that Gallo's tried the whole routine on of "oh no, we both just woke up and neither of us knows what happened, please help me fix the ship". Given how long Gallo has been doing this, and Leland's comments about the "games" that Gallo played with the crewmembers he woke up, Cooper was probably far from being the first person he played this routine with either.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
  • 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, namely 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.
  • Running on All Fours: The hunters can do this for extra speed.
  • Satanic Archetype: 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 their left arm to confirm they're allowed to access those particular systems.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: While it's thankfully averted in the actual film, the trailers claim "it's pitch black 500 miles from Earth". This would put the colony ship just outside of the International Space Station's orbit. This could just be a red herring though. One of several.
  • Scenery Gorn: Everywhere you look. The film has fun zig-zagging Ragnarök Proofing.
  • 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.
  • Settling the Frontier: The ship's original purpose. That's kinda shot to hell now...
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Bower and Payton/Gallo have an argument about civilization vs savagery.
  • 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!
  • Sole Surviving Scientist: Nadia, the only remaining scientist among the surviving people who've woken up so far, is a biologist who protects the biosphere she gathered and forms (incorrect, it turns out) theories about where the Hunter's mutations came from.
  • Space Isolation Horror: A crewman awaking from suspended animation to find the ship he's on in dire straits, and trying to puzzle out exactly what the hell happened.
  • Space Madness: The titular Pandorum, stated to be due to a combination of paranoia, emotional stress, and the physiological stresses of deep-space travel.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: The characters wake up from suspended animation to find their sleeper ship has been drifting through space for an untold number of centuries. The villain takes the protagonists to the bridge and shows them that there are no more stars, reasoning that they have been asleep so long that the ship either drifted beyond the edge of the known universe or that all the stars have burned out. Actually, they had crashed on the planet they were headed for and were merely at the bottom of an ocean.
  • 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. He's survived by ambushing and eating Hunters and crewmembers, and he's going to do the same to Bower's group after he captures them. Yet when Bower points out that the ship's reactor is going to go critical and kill everyone including Leland, he's still rational enough to let them go so they can fix it (it helps that even Leland realized the ship's mechanisms had sounded like they were breaking down for a while).
    Leland: You know, a strange thing, survival instinct... I mean, there's nothing really left to live for.
  • Super Cell Reception: Averted, the first thing damaged in Bower's misadventures is his radio, cutting him off from his Mission Control Payton. And allowing Payton to go Mission Control Is Off Its Meds when Gallo shows up.
  • Survival Horror: The film references just about every trope in the genre.
  • Token Trio: Bower (white man), Manh (Vietnamese man) and Nadia (white woman) fill the bill. Nadia is also German, to add an extra bit of tokenism.
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • Unreliable Expositor:
    • Gallo, read the red herring trope posted.
    • Nadia who thinks that the creatures are crew/passengers who have transformed, but that just doesn't add up for a couple of reasons and Bower calls out the first one: 1)None of them are affected and Leland has been awake for years. Later it's revealed that Gallo has been awake for decades unchanged. But then on the other hand, we later find out that over 900 years have passed since Earth was destroyed and Gallo started waking people up, so maybe enough generations passed for mutations to accumulate. It's also probable that the enzyme the colonists were being fed to help them adapt to Tanis kicked in and instead adapted them to their new existence in the bowels of the ship.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: The Earth is gone-that much Gallo (and Leland, through the story on the walls of his Room Full of Crazy) knows. Nobody sees this as important to the situation they are stuck with, except for Bower because his ex-wife was there when it disappeared.
  • The Unsolved Mystery:
    • What exactly happened to Earth to cause it to disappear in a single day is never answered. Gallo openly wonders if it was nuclear war or an asteroid collision, but they'll never know for sure.
    • Specific details of the Hunters' origins are not given a straight answer, though there are hints that suggest they're the descendants of crewmembers that became cannibals due to catching Space Madness. Over generations within the course of 900+ years they slowly adapted to the ship due to being fed an enzyme that was meant to jumpstart ecological evolution so they could adapt to minor differences in Tanis's atmosphere when they got there, basically becoming Morlocks.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Nadia’s team are mentioned to have woken up with her but clearly aren't around. A bonus featurette reveals that two were taken by the Hunters and shows the other two and Cooper having a Bolivian Army Ending. Also, we don't know what happened to anyone else who woke up and has been surviving in the (pretty big) ship who Bower never encountered. Presumably they drowned in the end, unless any of them returned to their pods hoping to ride the voyage out.
  • 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: Aside from Manh, Nadia too, apparently. Thematically appropriate, given her assigned role as caretaker to the genetic samples that will be used to populate Tanis.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: In a hibernation capsule, to be precise.