Set in a future where technology has failed and mankind has been plunged back into a rural existence of tribal survival, Pandorica follows three warriors of one such tribe as they head out into the wilderness to undertake a trial that will decide who among them shall become the next leader of their people. However, the arrival of an injured woman carrying a mysterious box throws the group into a game of cat and mouse with a group of masked strangers willing to do anything to reclaim the artifact that lurks within the chest, an artifact whose temptation will reveal the worst and better natures in the three warriors, leading them on a path they can never turn back from.

One quality from Pandorica that can never be questioned is director Tom Paton’s sheer determination and creative will. From using camera mounted drones to create sweeping panoramic shots on a budget, to finding a setting (a paintball arena in this case) and maximizing it to feel like a wilderness in a post-apocalyptic world, Paton pushes himself and the resources he has at his fingertips with an undoubtable sense of enthusiasm. Unfortunately, this same sensibility instills a sense of naivety that can’t help but reveal the flaws that exist throughout the film, and can never shake an almost student film quality in its ultimate execution; a hopeful mess, punching well above its weight.

Visually, Pandorica works best when it pares itself down and plays to the tighter genre confines of the narrative. Paton makes the most of the claustrophobic, overbearing wooded location in night scenes that isolate the central characters, and bathe them in the low light of shadow and campfire, a classic horror device, but when combined with the edge of feral art design works to create a dark atmosphere. However, when Paton attempt to shift the film more into the motion of action, the tightness of the visual construction splinters under the weight of clumsy, unfocused editing, something that continually haunts the film. The group’s odyssey through the unknown is broken with repeated aerial shots that feel simply thrown in for their difference, with no motivation. This is not the stalking eye of the mysterious hunters, or even some god’s eye view judging those following false Gods below…it’s an exercise in style without meaning. Simply put…redundant expression. The costume and set design is mostly strong with obvious attention placed in disguising the truth of the location and time frame, establishing an off-kilter apocalyptic future, with surprising panache considering the confines of budget. Although, one point of contention could be the argument that there is there is too much of a sort of retro-Predator in the design of the film’s antagonists that highlights where the fine line of homage and lack of originality meet in an awkward deadlock.

This lack of originality is reinforced in the structuring of the film’s central characters. The performances are solid if underwhelming, with each of the three core actors battling to be more than a walking cliché as they bicker and slowly reveal which side of the moral line they wish to tread, with little success. However, this is not entirely their fault because in truth the script is so thin and the dialogue so clunky that there isn’t really anything that can be done to bring it to life without a sense of forced motivation and eye rolling predictability.

Perhaps the strongest element of the film is the concept itself, as the film foregrounds the dislocation from the past that plagues this savage future. The sight of contemporary objects that are common to us serve as something magical and otherworldly to the characters in this particular existence, and this crafting of a mythic aura around them is an extremely interesting angle, one that can also be seen as a comment on our increasingly detached and desensitized nature in modern society, caught within a maelstrom of progress and numbed to the world around us.

Ultimately, while Pandorica contains flashes of promise that indicate the potential director Tom Paton holds and shows a fierce independent drive against all the odd, the film is simply too amateurish, lacking the depth of quality in execution to live up to the ideas it attempts to evoke. Visually inconsistent and narratively underwhelming, Pandorica walks too easily into a trap it sets for itself…it aims too high compared to the reality of exactly what it can achieve. It’s a commendable effort, but a failure as a thrilling genre ride, missing a vital sense of originality and craft that no amount of enthusiasm can replace.

Movie Review: Pandorica
1.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)

About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk