With the various infections and epidemics doing the rounds over the past decade – SARS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Bieber Fever – it was inevitable that the movie industry would catch up with scare mongering dramatisations sooner or later and here is Japan’s contribution. The original Japanese title "Kansen Retto" translates literally to “Infected Islands” which, while less eye catching and dramatic as "Pandemic", becomes obvious as the film progresses.
Thus we have a two and quarter hour race against time to discover the source and nature of a deadly virus, give it a name – the media choose “BLAME”, complete with a western newspaper headline apparently declaring it to be a “Satanic Disease” – and find a cure.
Even when films of this nature are based on genuine events there is always going to be strong elements of dramatic license present. "Pandemic" is no exception as explained above but the medical and scientific aspects of the script appear to have been well researched, with the hospital procedures executed and presented with much authenticity. Perhaps if the hospital staff weren’t largely made up of impossibly attractive people things may appear more convincing but this is the movies and not real life – a rather ironic statement to make considering the message implied here is just how devastating a virus like BLAME could be an entire nation especially one so ill-prepared to tackle it. Could it happen in real life? Who knows? But the makes of this film are damned sure to scare the bejesus out of you to make you think about it.
"Pandemic" hits hard with its messages and concerns but feels more like an American made for TV movie and a very long one at that, which lessens the impact of its intent. Its glossy production, good looking cast and occasional tacky sentiments (like the snow magically falling on the night of a breakthrough) prevent this from leaving a lasting impression, instead relegating it to a Sunday afternoon flick that may not see the inside of the DVD player again for a long time after if ever.
Good for what it is but unlikely to cause any widespread contamination to DVD collections outside of keen Asian film fans.