A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the intense violence in this dark, scary sci-fi movie is apparent in every scene, even if it's not specifically presented in terms of fighting or gore (though there's plenty of those, too). There's a constant, unrelenting feel of terror, tension, and dread, thanks mainly to the movie's overwhelmingly dark, metallic, deliberately unsettling sets. Alien creatures threaten to jump out from every dark corner, and the soundtrack's alarming use of screeching noises adds to the general unease. Likely it will be too much for most kids to handle. Despite that, and despite the characters' severe trials and tribulations, the movie has a solid ethical core and a generally hopeful outlook. Characters set aside their differences and team up for the greater good, and despite his potty mouth (expect plenty of "f--k"s and more) and initial disorientation, the hero ultimately behaves bravely and selflessly.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the future, the spaceship Elysium is launched on a very special mission. From one of its hibernation chambers, Bower (Ben Foster) awakens, not knowing who he is, how long he' has been asleep, what his final destination is, or how far away he is. A senior officer (Dennis Quaid) also awakens, and they agree that Bower -- using his still-remembered training -- will embark upon a dangerous mission to find the ship's reactor and reboot it. To get there, Bower must travel through many dark, imposing and sometimes claustrophobic corridors. To his horror, he soon discovers that he's not alone on the ship -- and that not all of his new companions are friendly.
Is it any good?
PANDORUM won't convert anyone who isn't already a sci-fi/horror fan, but for those already in the club, it provides some very intense, memorable chills. Directed by Christian Alvart, the movie has an especially effective set design, filled with dark, constricting, metallic corridors with lots of snaky black tubing poking out. The ship's lights keep flickering out, and every inky corner is filled with potential menace. And the off-screen screeching noises help keep up a constant sense of tension and dread.
The movie's theme of madness (the "pandorum" of the title) is played to the hilt, the violence comes fast and hard, and it will likely be a bit too much for most kids. Fortunately, the hero (Foster) is a likeable sort, and he grows and changes in an interesting way over the course of the film; the overriding theme is one of hope.
Talk to your kids about ...
The film's prologue charts the future explosion in the Earth's population and mentions a severe shortage of water and food. What causes overpopulation, and why is it bad? What are some of the ways to curb it?
What's the difference between social order and rules and chaos?
What would it feel like to be away from your loved ones in deep space?
- In theaters: September 25, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: December 22, 2009
- Cast: Antje Traue, Ben Foster, Dennis Quaid
- Director: Christian Alvart
- Studio: Overture Films
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong horror violence and language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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