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New Release Review - PANDORICA

In a post-apocalyptic world, members of a primitive tribe battle for supremacy.



Review by Ren Zelen (@renzelen)

Directed by: Tom Paton

Starring: Jade Hobday, Marc Zammit, Adam Bond, Luke D'Silva, Laura Marie Howard, Bentley Kalu



The dialogue in Pandorica is pretty straightforward, with a smattering of exotic language that the Varosha break into when particularly roused. It  is all conveyed in a rather stilted manner – but perhaps this is the way all the Varosha tribe have of speaking - needing to underline their rather flat statements with brittle diction and moody facial expressions; who knows? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.


Pandorica describes itself as science-fiction, but hang back there sci-fi fans – it’s actually one of those post-apocalyptic yarns which consists of primitive, back-to-nature tribes in skins and war-paint running around a forest at night brandishing sharpened sticks – you know the type of thing I mean. Yes indeed, the apocalypse has a lot to answer for, so much was lost, and often the first casualty appears to have been interesting ideas.
The reason for these primitive future\past folk running around a forest at night is because a chosen three of the younger generation are competing in leadership trials to determine the next chief of their tribe – the Varosha. The three must battle through the woods during this momentous night (neither they nor we are told exactly what or how they must battle) where at daybreak, the leader of the Varosha tribe is expected to emerge as the sole survivor.


Out-going leader of the tribe Nus (Luke D’Silva) guides headstrong Eiren (Jade-Fenix Hobday), self-centred Ares (Marc Zammit) and conflicted Thade (Adam Bond) on their journey through the fateful forest.
I’ll come clean - I’m just not the person for this kind of thing. I’m a 21st century urbanite who, try as I might, cannot quite bring myself to overly care who becomes leader of a fictional tribe with nothing much more in their lives than flint spears, polecat-fur couture and games in the woods by which to decide elections (which might also explain my continuing indifference as to which family wins whatever in Game of Thrones, where at least there are dragons).

However, there is a market out there for dystopian dramas and, conscious of my responsibility, I made every effort to pay attention to Ares, Thade and Eiren, who are all in line to lead the next generation of their people. I myself soon found it easier to differentiate them as ‘the one that looks like a Viking’, ‘the one that looks like Jesus Christ’, ‘the girl with the ‘Apocalypto’ haircut’, and ‘the father-figure’ – that is, the out-going leader who has brought them into the woods for the mysterious ‘trials’. Apparently he was really a substitute ‘dad’ to Eiren of the Apocalypto hair, as she was orphaned when her own father was killed in the self-same trials a generation ago.

The characters are rather unsubtly sketched – the snake-eyed Viking-Ares is clearly the one we’re supposed to hate - cold and arrogant from the beginning, contemptuous of Jesus-Thade, and insulting to Apocalypto-Eiren. Yes, he’s ruthless, ambitious, sneaky and sexist. Even the soon-to–be-ex-leader Nus isn’t a bit keen on him. Thade is rather sympathetic; after all, he looks like Jesus, has a melting glance and is obviously kind at heart, despite his general inclination to vacillate and be a bit clumsy, falling into traps, needing to be helped and so on.


We’re often told by the other characters that Eiren is bad-tempered and uptight, and she helpfully demonstrates this by frowning, slouching, sulking and snarling for most of her time on screen, but she is obviously more resourceful than the two dopey lads she has to compete against.

During the night an elfin girl in a tatty mini dress stumbles out of the forest into their camp terrified and bleeding and clutching a box. She begs them to protect her from those coming after her who want to reclaim the arcane box that she must destroy, as inside is a dangerous relic from the pre-apocalyptic world. Who are these pursuers? They claim to be Gods, which comes as a bit of surprise as they are clearly just big guys wearing masks and armour based on ninja turtles.

Surprisingly, the elfin girl is not called ‘Pandora’ but the box she’s toting around becomes the bone of contention between the contestants, the girl and her pursuers. I won’t spoil anything by revealing what’s inside, (but as it’s exhibited almost immediately, don’t expect any inherent mystery a la Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction briefcase).

The dialogue in Pandorica is pretty straightforward, with a smattering of exotic language that the Varosha break into when particularly roused. It  is all conveyed in a rather stilted manner – but perhaps this is the way all the Varosha tribe have of speaking - needing to underline their rather flat statements with brittle diction and moody facial expressions; who knows? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.


With a limited cast and budget, Paton’s film is visually impressive, with the cinematography meriting the most praise. Rich location shots, on a par with high-budget counterparts, depict nature at its best, and contrasts it with the occasional throwback to the industrialized age which preceded the apocalypse.

Personally, with this sort of culture to anticipate, I’m less afraid of dying in the apocalypse than I am of surviving it, as I can’t help but worry that the collapse of the social order might severely compromise my ability to see any more sci-fi movies based on the novels of Philip K Dick.

Pandorica is at Cinemas from 1st April and available to Pre-Order on DVD, Blu-ray & Digital


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