Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Kanningu Takeyama and Tatsuya Fuji
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 09 May 2011

Avian flu wipes out a little village in the Northern Philippines, and appears to spread to a poultry farm just outside Tokyo, Japan, when one of the residents travels to a wedding with a chicken as a gift. The authorities move in to contain the new outbreak, but many more people fall seriously ill, and it is spreading at an uncontrollable rate. As the public panics and natural order quickly dissolves, stripping Japan of its normality, a woman scientist arrives at the central Tokyo hospital with the directive to identify the virus. However, the pressure is on, with deaths now rising into the millions...

Let me begin by stating that, generally speaking, I’m not a big follower of natural disaster movies. It’s normally all about the spectacle rather than the inherent story (in other words, how other people are affected by events). The prospect of sitting through well over two hours of this scenario did not fill me with enthusiasm. I was, however, intrigued with how a Japanese director (in this case, Takahisa Zeze) might approach the depiction of a virus which could effectively break down a stable society.

The first part of the movie is somewhat slow to start, but that is probably due in part to too many characters being forced on the viewer practically simultaneously, and the fact that the initial inferred plot of avian influenza appears completely uninteresting (even if it does seem to spread from the Philippines to Tokyo and the rest of Japan).

Then a strange thing happens. The moment the virus is discovered to be something completely new, and not bird flu after all, events become much more personal as, conversely, the pandemic spreads. The handful of key characters emerge from the seeming cast of thousands, and suddenly we’re given realistic fictional people to identify with and care about.

The idea of the female scientist who is brought in to a hospital to help identify the virus having a past with one of the major doctors might conceivably be seen as being contrived (especially as neither of them look old enough to have much of a past), but it works, giving the isolated human events a central point.

Miraculously, the film turns into something very special, The vast majority of the actors are top notch and highly convincing in their reactions to a multitude of emotional traumas. You never at any point feel that a character is safe; many writers and directors are too protective of their main players, therefore inducing an involuntary predictability, but you never know here who is going to survive and who will perish.

Some people will need a box of tissues, as Pandemic cleverly tugs at the heart strings, and the film concludes on a thought provoking touch of poignancy. Highly recommended, and worth sticking with though the first half hour of so when I wavered and very nearly prematurely wrote it off.


Ty Power

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£8.29 (
£11.99 (
£6.49 (
£15.47 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.