Horror movies set in space inevitably draw comparisons to the Alien Franchise – what else is there to compare to? Jason X? Somewhere between that zenith and nadir lies everything else. It’s a sub-genre or setting which has seen some resurgence in the last decade, but one which nevertheless feels underused. I would assume the very nature of the setting would send budgets skyrocketing. Pandorum is somewhere closer to Event Horizon on the scale and like that 90’s cult hit it raises a lot of ideas and questions, yet tends to frustrate more often than it delights.

Pandorum is a film which ultimately frustrates more than it delights. While it seems to know what it wants to be, the clashing of genres and ideas along with a few unusual choices, prevent the film from being entirely coherent and enjoyable. Starting off with the casting, we have Dennis Quaid – an everyman actor who most wouldn’t consider to be an A-Lister, but someone who has plenty of hits under his belt and is respected. Playing alongside him is Ben Foster, who I consider to be the finest actor of his generation yet seems fated to never break through to the mainstream or critical recognition he deserves. The film largely follows this pair for the bulk of the film, with a couple of curious cameos to keep things from being too stilted. Both actors carry the film well, but based on their names alone it would be difficult to pull in a huge audience.

Looking next at the story – you’d be forgiven for thinking this is an all out space horror movie, with scares, monsters, action – but it’s both more claustrophobic and appeals to the internal rather than the visceral. There is action, but it’s spread unevenly between bouts of dialogue, philosophy, and procedure – there is horror, but it’s closely knit to those moments of action. It’s part survival, part mystery, and I wasn’t convinced that the two mesh successfully. I’m fully prepared to stand in the minority on this and I know there will be plenty of dedicated fans after watching – for me, I wanted a little more tension in both the survival and action aspects. The script has a lot to say, but traps its more interesting aspects under what is ultimately an unsatisfying story more dependent on its central twist. Again, it’s difficult to see what sort of audience the film was meant to draw.

Where the film does mostly succeed is in its interior designs – the craft itself is slimy and dark, labyrinthine, and filled with endless corridors and connecting pits and crawlspaces. Director Christian Alvart does his best work in the scenes of our survivors traversing the giant ship in various fetch quests, allowing the sense of mammoth scale to collide with the ironic claustrophobia of being alone. Effects wise – it’s not a huge budget film, but both CG, practical, and make-up are good for what they could achieve.

While I don’t think the movie is ‘good’, I don’t believe it deserved the critical and commercial drubbing it received. It’s fine as a cult film and it’s strong enough that it has and should continue to find fans – at the very least it should have made back its budget, but whether or not it is deserving of the rumoured sequels or prequels I’ll leave up to you. It’s another interesting space-horror film which doesn’t hit the mark, but which is worth catching for Sci-Fi fans still hoping to fill that post-Alien, post-Pitch Black void.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Pandorum!

Walk of Fame – 9th October 2015

To check the dubious reasoning behind these posts, check the original here:

In this new series of posts I’ll be selecting a Star at random from every decade (who was born in that decade) starting from the 1880s up until the 1990s to be interred in this land of magic and wonder, who will for ever more see their name set in stone far beyond the places where Gods dare to tread. Each name will have a unique star placed and statue built-in their honour. Often accompanying these additions will be news of a new store or museum to go alongside those stars whose work is of particular genius, and you too can visit and see the place of your dreams, simply by closing your eyes….

1880sCecil B. Demille. For contributions to Film And Theatre. Arguably the first superstar Director, DeMille became the most wealthy and successful filmmaker in Hollywood, his casting choices would turn many unknowns into household names, and his later epics remain masterpieces of the craft. He is known for works such as The Ten Commandments, The Greatest Show On Earth, and Samson And Delilah. 

1890s: Harold Lloyd. For contributions to Film. Lloyd was one of the first, and most successful comedians of the silent period, his pictures taking a more action-oriented and slapstick approach than his counterparts, such as Safety Last, Girl Shy, and Hot Water. 

1900sRay Milland. For contributions to Film and TelevisionMilland moved from the UK to the US in 1930 after a few appearances in minor British films. Quickly establishing himself as a suave leading man he eventually broke out of those confines to achieve a wider variety of roles and success, picking up a Best Actor Oscar and even moving in to the Director’s chair. His career went from the 1920s into the 1980s in works such as The Lost Weekend, Dial M For Murder, and Markham. 

1910s: Jane Wyman. For contributions to Film and Television. Wyman was both a nominee and a Winner of Academy Awards and Golden Globes in a career which saw her move from backing dancer to supporting roles to leading lady in works such as The Blue Veil, Johnny Belinda, and Falcon Crest. 

1920sJackie Cooper. For contributions to Film and Television. Maybe the first truly successful child actor who transitioned to successful adult roles, Cooper won an Oscar at 9 years old and became a Naval Captain during WWII only to return to acting (and Direct a few films) in the 1960s and beyond. He is remembered for works such as Skippy, Treasure Island, and The Superman Series.

1930s: Oliver Reed. For contributions to Film. Often remembered more for his off-screen antics than his on-screen ability, Reed was known to give ferocious and energetic performances from his Hammer beginnings until his final films in works such as The Devils, Gladiator, and The Muskateers Series. 

1940sRick Rosenthal. For contributions to Film and Television. Rosenthal has bounced between Film and TV since the early 1980s with varying success, eventually becoming a well-respected director of many popular TV series, his works including Bad Boys, Halloween II, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. 

1950sJohn Hughes. For contributions to Film. The most 80s of any 80s Director or writer, the movies which Hughes created are indelibly scorched into the minds of any kid who grew up in that decade thanks to quick wit, style, and a sentimental realism as seen in such works as Home Alone, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and The Breakfast Club. 

1960sSteve Zahn. For contributions to Film, Theatre, and Television. Zahn has been performing since the early 90s in a wide variety of roles on the big and small screen eventually garnering critical acclaim in later films. Though he was frequently typecast in supporting comedy roles, he has branched out to greater success, his works including Happy,Texas, Riding In Cars With Boys, and Rescue Dawn. 

1970sGigi Edgley. For contributions to Film and TelevisionEdgley has appeared mainly in Australian TV and movies giving often acclaimed performances and bringing a variety of talents to her roles in works such as Farscape, Last Train To Freo, and Rescue: Special Ops. 

1980sBen Foster. For contributions to Film and Television. Foster has been appearing on the big and small screen since the mid-nineties and has received critical acclaim in many films but has yet to become a household name (though that may change with his upcoming role as Lance Armstrong) even though he has been in works such as Flash Forward, 30 Days Of Night, and Alpha Dog. 

1990sCiara Bravo. For contributions to Film and Television. Bravo (18 at time of writing) has appeared in a small number of movies at TV series, but has shown great talent as both a voice actor and screen actor and will look to transition away from teenage roles in the next few years. Her works include Big Time Rush, Red Band Society, and Angels And Demons. 

In addition to Stars and Statues being erected for the people above, the following attractions have been created:

In honour of Gigi Edgley’s induction – The Farscape Experience has been created, featuring full-scale replicas of Moya and many of the other spacecrafts from the hit TV series, you can choose to stay in one of our Farscape themed hotels, visit the Farsacpe Museum, and try the translator microbes which will allow you to understand any language in the universe.

In honour of Harold Lloyd’s induction – an obstacle course featuring many of Lloyd’s most famous stunts including climbing down from a 12 storey clock tower to leaping on and off a high-speed tram.

Top Ten Tuesdays – Bruce Willis

Greetings, glancers! Today’s TTT post unveils my favourite 10 films by Mr Bruce Willis, a man primarily known for his action movie work but who has had a massively varied career and is an accomplished comic and dramatic actor. Possibly this list will be the first to get a lot of varying opinions when compared with the previous actors and directors I have covered precisely because Willis has appeared in so many different genres. Willis has effectively towed the line between blockbuster and smaller/indie film perhaps better than any other actor, appearing in an incredible number of successes and of course contributing to those successes thanks to his ability. I won’t comment on his work as a musician (I haven’t heard any), though I will remind everyone of his Emmy-Award winning beginnings as a comic actor – he has returned to TV regularly over the years including memorable work in Friends and Bruno The Kid (as a voice actor). I will add that there are quite a few films I have not yet seen by Willis so if you add your favourites in the comments I will reply to let everyone know which ones I’ve missed.

10. Death Becomes Her

I’m going to cheat a little with this first one – it’s by no means the best film Willis has made, and I was torn between including this and any number of his other action or thriller oriented movies, but I felt that the list needed a little comedy so here we are. Death Becomes Her sees Willis at his most un-Willis – there is little of the world-weary wise-cracking hard-ass persona we know from his most famous features, instead he is a broken down, weak-willed husband who wants an easy way out of a loveless marriage. Turning the tables later though he refuses to consume the elixir of life as that would meaning spending an eternity with women he despises. Willis is very funny in the frustrated husband role, acting as a great foil to Streep and Hawn, and he picked up a Golden Globe nomination in the process.

9. Hostage


I’m sure many of you will be surprised at this selection, and many of you may not have even heard of the movie. Indeed, when I first chose to watch it I assumed it was going to be an average thriller, Willis just cashing a cheque, so I was happily surprised at how good it actually is. I should say at the outset that while Willis is very good, it is Ben Foster who steals the film in an alarmingly good performance – why this man hasn’t won an Oscar yet is a mystery – I hear he is set to play Lance Armstrong in an upcoming film which has Oscar-bait written all over it. Back to Hostage, and we follow Willis as a former Hostage negotiator (Talley) who denies an order and sees a family slaughtered. Living as a small time police chief some time later, he again becomes embroiled in a hostage crisis as three teenagers hold a family at gunpoint during an apparent failed robbery. Talley is reluctant to get involved, but as the violence escalates he is forced into action.

The film is an effective action thriller with a few twists as we learn more about the motives of the hostages. Willis plays the tortured figure well, and his call to arms feels genuine, and while the surrounding cast is strong the film is owned by Foster, whose mysterious killer character is never truly revealed. With a less effective lead, or in the hands of one not as convincing as Willis the film would not have been as watchable – it’s a difficult one to describe to entice your typical action fan into watching, but there is a fair amount of tension and gun play which is both gripping and brutal. I would heartily recommend everyone giving this a shot.

8. Beavis And Butthead Do America.


Given that the TV show which the movie was based on is one of my favourites of all time, it was a given that this be included in my list. While movies based on TV shows are rarely much good, this feels like an extended episode given the fact that the same main players are fully involved. The film follows our awkward teen pair across America in search of sluts and their stolen TV. Along the way they get mistaken for hitmen by Muddy (Willis) who wants them to ‘do’ his wife (Demi Moore). Believing they are getting paid to have sex with a hot woman, they pair accept not realizing that they are supposed to kill her. This kicks off a chain of events as every cop in the country chases them down, they meet the President, laugh at place names, drop peyote with possibly their own parents, annoy Mr Anderson etc etc. Willis plays the gruff, alcoholic Muddy well – the in-joke of Willis and Moore being married in reality is not overplayed – and he even manages to get a few laughs. The film is packed with stupid jokes and funny moments so it’s one to enjoy again and again.

7. Unbreakable.


While not nearly as successful, critically or commercially, as their previous outing together – M.Night Shyamalan and Willis struck gold again with Unbreakable – a film which feels on the surface to be another supernatural thriller up until its closing moments when the classic Shyamalan twist comes in. The twist here isn’t as much of a shock as in The Sixth Sense, indeed most viewers should have worked it all out before the end of the film, but that isn’t what sets the movie apart. It’s a slow burning, gloom-riden, rain-soaked drama featuring two stellar turns from Willis and Samuel L Jackson. It’s also arguably the greatest origin story of a superhero ever told, with Willis as a downbeat, life-going-nowhere family man who realises his remarkable gifts and begins to slowly use them to save people, but also be drawn into a horrific good versus evil battle. As with such films, I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t seen it, but Willis is superb as the man whose family is falling apart only to realize the power he has possessed and possibly ignored his whole life. Equally strong is Jackson as the man who finds and mentors Willis, a wheelchair bound comic book fan who has been bullied for much of his life and sees meeting Willis as a chance to give both of their lives purpose. There isn’t a load of action on show here, but in the same way The Sixth Sense weighed up its light number of scares to give the impression of an efficient whole, the films rumbles along as we hope to see Willis become the hero he was born to be.

6. Sin City


The most visually impressive and stylized film on the list is also one which sees Willis play a smaller role in a much larger ensemble cast. Willis once again plays the downtrodden, battered cop – this time Hartigan – a man whose selfless, or couldn’t-give-a-damn-about-himself nature allows him to sacrifice himself multiple times to save the life of an innocent, tracking down a ruthless and untouchable killer and trying to bring an end to corruption in a city borne of it. It’s difficult for any single cast member to stand out in a film whose visual nature means that those characters with a certain look will instantly be the most memorable, but amidst Rourke, Wood, Alba, Stahl and the rest, Willis does stand out as one of the few good guys, a plain cop just trying to do his job in a world that couldn’t be less black or white.

5. Die Hard With A Vengeance


One of the finest action sequels ever made, this third outing reunites Willis with the original’s director John McTiernan and reunites John McClane with the Gruber clan. The film sees McClane as a washed-up alcoholic shade of his former self, having lost his marriage to Holly and become estranged from everyone he cared about. Living on his past glories and pissing off everyone he meets, McClane is reluctantly forced back into the line of fire after a terrorist asks for him specifically. Sporting a delightfully racist sentiment in the middle of Harlem, McClane is ‘rescued’ by Zeus Carver (Samuel L Jackson) and the two find themselves in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a psychotic terrorist named Simon.

The film is split in two parts – the first focusing on the race through New York to foil Simon’s plans – and the second being the realization of who Simon really is and the plan to take him down. While the second half cannot maintain the frantic mayhem and momentum of the glorious first half, the wit of the main players and the stellar script from Jonathan Hensleigh. Willis is at his fast-talking, quick-thinking best once again and his interaction with both Jackson and Irons are a joy to watch. Taking the one-man army trope to the streets of NYC and giving it the full 90s makeover leaves DHWAV as one of the best action movies of the decade.

4. Pulp Fiction


Similar to Sin City in that Willis has a smaller role in an ensemble cast, it proved again that he could branch out into areas unknown – his character in Pulp Fiction being different from both the comedy and action performances he was known for up to this point. It isn’t the first dramatic role or indie film Willis appeared it, but it was arguably the first that brought his talents to the attention of an up and coming breed of fans and filmmakers who saw that they could use him as more than just a gun-totting maniac. Here he is an opportunist, a man who decides to not take the easy way and instead try for once to be noble and heroic, even if it may cost him his life. Willis doesn’t get many lines, but does contribute to a few of the movie’s most memorable scenes.

3. Die Hard


The film which made him a movie star, and one which is frequently cited as the best action movie ever made, Die Hard is as flawless a film as you are ever likely to see – a spectacle of carnage with gripping story, wonderful characters, timeless action, and a superb cast. I won’t spend too much time talking about this one as I assume everyone reading it has seen it, but it contains Willis in his most iconic role giving maybe his best all round performance. Alan Rickman does his best to steal every scene he is in, but Willis holds his own and cements his place as one of the best action performers ever.

2. The Last Boy Scout


An all-time personal favourite of mine, and easily one of the best action movies of the 90s, The Last Boy Scout is a self-referential, ultra-violent, misogynistic riot – taking all of the elements, good and bad, of the 80s action movie and turning them inside out. Willis is excellent as Joe Hallenback, yet again a washed up version of former glory. He was a secret service agent who once saved the President’s life but has since become disgraced, bitter, and drunk, with a wife and daughter who despise him. Joe takes a job as Halle Berry’s bodyguard to the annoyance of former NFL star Jimmy Dix (Marlon Wayans). Berry is murdered shortly after, and Joe and Jimmy uncover a case of corruption and murder whilst trying to not get themselves killed.

The partnership of Wayans and Willis is superb, so much so that I’m annoyed that they haven’t starred together again. It seems like a match made in heaven here, and when you thrown Danielle Harris, Taylor Negron, and others into the mix we have one of the best acted films of its type. This would not be enough to make the film a classic – it takes the assured direction of Tony Scott, and the glorious screenplay by Shane Black – again one of the best of the decade – to ensure it reaches the highest level. It’s rare that such a violent film contains so many one-liners and hilarious moments, but this one is literally a laugh a minute with quotable dialogue from all quarters. If you can look past the nasty stuff, and of course the fact that almost all of the women are treated as fodder, then you should absolutely adore this. I’ve no idea why this isn’t as revered as Willis’ more famous action work – I implore all action fans to seek it out.

1. The Fifth Element

Fifth Element

Recalling any number of sci-fi films, from Blade Runner to Stargate, from Star Trek to Metropolis, The Fifth Element is nevertheless a triumphantly unique tour de force by Luc Besson. A stellar cast, a visionary director, and a brilliant story ensure that this is a feast for the eyes, mind, and heart – an endlessly entertaining, camp, futuristic film which is certain to be seen as both a cult film and a culturally significant one in decades to come.

Willis stars as Korben Dallas, a washed-up (even 200 years in the future Willis can’t get clean) 23rd Century former marine turned taxi driver whose life is interrupted by the literal dropping in of the perfect Milla Jovovich – an apparent alien who is being chased by all manner of cops and critters. After (and before) that the plot gets a little too convoluted to cover in a brief blog post, but basically Dallas has to protect Jovovich from Gary Oldman and The Great Evil and save the Universe. Along the way we meet Ian Holm, Chris Tucker, Luke Perry and others, and we learn that love is the key.

Aside from the strong action, great dialogue and performances, the film is one of the most visually stunning that I’ve seen – a detailed, realistic future world with all of the decay, pollution, vanity, and wealth/status gap we are familiar with today, just with more aliens and flying cars. Willis is playing his usual robust self with a little more heart, and while his own comic turn is dialled down a little, he is allowed to increase his manic everyman side and show some lighter emotions. It is a film which may polarize, but is a rampant, challenging, always brilliant dream brought to life.

This concludes my list of Top Ten Bruce Willis films – really I could have added a few more to this list to round it off, but I’m happy with the 10 above. What films do you think I’ve missed, and which Bruce Willis films are your favourites? Let us know in the comments!