You have to hand it to Dennis Quaid: 55 years of age and still up for a bit of on-screen mayhem. Quaid's sci-fi credentials stretch all the way back to 'Dreamscape' in 1984 (followed by 'Enemy Mine' in 1985 and 'Innerspace' in 1987) and here he is again, fiddling around at control desks and saying lines that would have any 'Star Trek' fan purring with joy.

In 2174, earth is on the brink of collapse due to overpopulation and the massive spacecraft Elysium - complete with ecosystems and settlers - has been sent on a deep space mission to the planet Tanus, mankind's future home.

Among Elysium's crew members are Bower (Foster) and Payton (Quaid), who wake up from hypersleep to discover that the ship is shutting down and all its passengers seem to have disappeared. Those two mysteries are the least of their problems.

Mixing up the 'Alien' movies, old school sci-fi paranoia and Aphex Twin's 'Come to Daddy' video, 'Pandorum' doesn't have the polish of 'Moon' or the big message of 'District 9', but it's good, twisted fun and a posse of fanboys is guaranteed.

The film starts off looking like a fairly low budget offering, but as the story progresses the sets and effects become more impressive and Alavart's qualities as a director come into focus. There are decent scares and some brilliantly worked moments of shout-at-the-screen tension - what Bower and Payton discover will make you feel like having a very long encounter with Sanex afterwards.

'Pandorum' would've been even better if Quaid had done more running around (he spends so long at a desk they could've asked him to do the wages) and Alavart had dumped the unnecessary backstory and taken more time with the ending, but far bigger releases have had far less to offer. And while you're guaranteed to leave the cinema with "But hang on..." as your new catchphrase, you'll probably have a yearning for a sequel too.

Harry Guerin

Listen to a review of 'Pandorum' on RTÉ Radio One's 'Arena', here