Passengers Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
One starship, five thousand passengers in stasis, a system failure & two awakenings. Add Chris Pratt & Jennifer Lawrence to the story, what can go wrong, right?
Genre: Drama / Romance / Sci-Fi / Thriller Director: Morten Tyldum Cast: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne & Andy Garcia.
Run Time: 116 min.
US Release: 21 December 2016
UK Release: 21 December 2016
German Release: 05 January 2017
From the director of The Imitation Game comes this sci-fi mesh of different genres, starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. The trailers never really managed to hook me but I did find the premise interesting, sadly I obtained exactly what I thought the trailers were selling. While I am a fan of new and original ideas from studios, directors and writers, I did find a pattern in Tyldum’s last two films that annoyed me, and I wasn’t sure what it was until I saw this flick yesterday. Just as with his previous movie, Passengers doesn’t really know what it wants to be and so we obtained a sci-fi flick with multiple sub-genres, which hurts the narration. That said I did not find Passengers to be a bad film, it is simply boring.
The events are easily explained; the starship Avalon is on a 120-year voyage to a distant planetary colony known as Homestead II. On board are 5,000 passengers and 259 crew members all sleeping in hibernation pods, until a system malfunction opens up one of the pods and awakens engineer Jim Preston (Pratt) 90 years too early. Preston soon tries to figure out what caused the malfunction and how to fix his broken chamber until another pod opens, awakening Aurora Lane (Lawrence), another passenger.
As I stated in the first paragraph, Passengers’ biggest weakness lies in its plot and storytelling. The marketing for this sci-fi romance tries to sell the two characters' awakening as a big mystery, even tagging the poster with the line “There is a reason they woke up”. Sadly, there is no mystery involved at all. The first scene explains everything you need to know as to why the hibernation pods failed. The first act of the movie, which sees Pratt’s character stranded alone on the massive spaceship Avalon, is intriguing and adds a sense of drama and urgency as Jim is trying to figure out how to make the best of the situation. The biggest props I can give to the writer Jon Spaihts and the narrative is that it tries to stay as scientifically accurate as possible.
The second act is where the plot comes to a halt, dragging the movie at an incredibly slow pace to the end because nothing of interest happens from that moment onward. We are introduced to Jennifer Lawrence’s persona and a romance ensues between the two passengers. That is until the third act kicks in, which includes a morally controversial revelation with a solution that presents itself in form of a dangerous moment and is resolved instantaneously. The audience is then supposed to sit there and accept the ending.
Since this is basically Cast Away meets Gravity, the number of supporting characters is extremely limited. This is Chris Pratt’s film and he is the one carrying the plot from start to finish. The personality of his character Jim Preston is the only one that contains a variety of layers that make him interesting. Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Aurora, was on the other hand a character that didn’t really need to be included. Lawrence does a grant acting job, but the only reason for the character’s existence is to bring in a moral dilemma, so viewers can identify with Pratt’s persona; that and to look sexy…
Michael Sheen portrays the android bartender Arthur and adds some humour to the otherwise serious tone of the film, as well as being the only other “intelligent” life form for the two leads to talk to. Andy Garcia is absolutely wasted and I do not understand why he was cast in this film because he only makes a two-minute appearance at the end of the movie, which would have sufficed for an extra.
The cinematography is one of the few advantages this sci-fi flick has. It is a bright and stunning-looking picture with vivid but sterile colours that suit the theme of space travel well. The effects are fantastic and look realistic but what truly got me to drop my jaw open, is the design of the spacecraft. It looks simple and yet its technicality is something that looks scientifically accurate and reminded a lot of the spacecraft in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The cinematography and effects are what really elevated the movie for me.
Thomas Newman composed the music, which is a strong and epic soundtrack. I loved every minute of it, but I don’t think it suited the film well. The score gives this sci-fi flick a taste of mystery, sounding in fact at times like the soundtrack to the Mass Effect video game series, yet nothing in the movie itself is mysterious and it, therefore, irritates most of the time.
Verdict: All in all, this sci-fi romance didn’t manage to truly entertain me; in fact, there are segments in the movie where I needed to fight my urge to fall asleep. It isn’t a bad film, but it also has no excuse to exist. While the first arc of the story starts off with a strong and interesting idea of being stranded alone on a spaceship, it opts to go another path in the second act by introducing another persona and thus developing a romantic subplot. The character of Jim Preston is fleshed out rather well and he is likeable until reaching a moral predicament. While I can’t say that I wouldn’t have acted the same way, it is through those actions that his character lost all likeability. Jennifer Lawrence gives a beautiful rendition of her role, as always, but she doesn’t bring anything fresh to the story. The best part of the film are the effects and the cinematography. I will give Passengers a 5.5 out of 10.
I can not recommend anybody to go watch this movie in cinemas, a shame because I was hoping for this film to surprise me but in the end, I obtained exactly what was shown in the trailers. Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this review, don’t forget to share and like it.