Pandemic (UK - DVD R2)
Our Marcus hopes his sniffles don't end with blood spewing from his eyes...
An outbreak of avian influenza takes out a small village in the Philippines. Three months later another outbreak hits a chicken farm in Japan. In a nearby hospital a patient dies of extreme flu symptoms despite testing negative with for the virus. This is the beginning of the pandemic and the race is on to find the cause and an antidote before all of Japan is infected.
Pandemic tackles the legitimately scary prospect of an unknown virus sweeping like wild fire through a country. Told at a relatively fast pace and jumping days as the fatalities pile up, the pressure of sorting this devastating problem builds and builds, adding the drama of characters' personal relationships being put under strain and friends and family members losing their lives to the illness.
Despite the enjoyable pace and the realistically grisly effects of the pandemic (honestly bleeding profusely from the eyes and convulsing is not the way anyone wants to go out), Pandemic can sometimes suffer from being a little melodramatic. This rarely undermines the drama totally but it did sometimes make me roll my eyes and want the story to get back to the search for the cause of the outbreak because the well-handled tension of time running out and what the hell caused this sudden spike in a killer virus was the real draw.
Pandemic isn’t all that impressive to look at. There are some good textures here and there but generally the image is soft, with the Japanese text on screen often blurred and overall it really has quite a standard definition TV drama look to it.
It’s also quite a mishmash of styles. Interior hospital scenes are quite typical with their green tints but the more adventurous shots in the villages or the investigations of the outbreaks can have some very extreme colour filters in places and almost look science fiction-esq, especially when compared to the naturally lit city shots that pop up from time to time.
This is only a 2.0 stereo track but it still feels very centre speaker based. There’s no real depth to the audio and everything feels very confined. Of course, there’s not really much going on in the film beyond dialogue (or screams of pain) so there's not a great deal of call for the full 5.1 mix but even so the track here is noticeably restrained.
The only extra is the trailer (01:37) which is one of the most melodramatic trailers I’ve seen in a while.
Pandemic deals with a bloody scary prospect that makes the hoo-hah about swine flu a while back look like the sniffles. It’s a fairly straight forward drama with little in the way of thrills but due to the realistic approach it was hard not to warm to the characters and want them to get to the bottom of the situation.
The disc itself is lacking in all departments and with more exciting prospects out there that deal with similar deadly possibilities to put an end to human life Pandemic could easily end up as forgotten as tamiflu.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 9th May 2011
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Japanese
Easter Egg: No
Director: Takahisa Zeze
Cast: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Rei Dan
Genre: Drama and Horror
Length: 138 minutes
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