Date Movie: Passengers

Oh Passengers. Never before has a movie been so highly anticipated only to crash and burn the week before it opened. I have been looking forward to this movie ever since I first the description on The Blacklist. I’ve eagerly watched and re-watched trailers and followed every scrap of news. And then we actually found out the specific plot, and it all started to come unraveled……

Note: This review contains spoilers for the movie, because it’s hard to talk about without giving some things away.  Do not go past River if you don’t want to be spoiled.  Don’t be that guy that always complains in the comments.

passengers movie river song spoilers gif

 

So What’s This Movie About Anyway?

Starship Avalon is in the midst of its 120-year voyage to a distant colony planet known as the Homestead II when the ship has a malfunction. As a result, one hibernation pod opens prematurely and Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is stranded on the spaceship, 90 years from his destination. After coming close to madness due to loneliness (his only company is an android bartender played by Martin Sheen), he comes across journalist Aurora’s (Jennifer Lawrence) pod, and develops an obsession with her via her writing and passenger profile.  He awakens her, and together they deal with the various ship malfunctions that threaten the lives of the other passengers.

 

What I Loved

Right out of the gate, Passengers delivers truly stunning visuals. The opening sequence where the precipitating accident occurs is probably one of the most elegant sci-fi sequences I’ve ever seen.  It’s a tremendously pretty film, with a real Titanic luxury vibe around the design of the spaceship.

Its a testament to Chris Pratt’s acting that I didn’t mind the character of Jim as much as I thought I would. Jim desperately needed an actor to humanize him, someone to make you understand that his deplorable act was coming from a truly desperate man and Pratt pulled that off with his usual charm. Unfortunately, Aurora isn’t awakened til over an hour into the film, which basically means Lawrence just gets to vacillate between doe eyed lover and screaming women spurned, but she still manages to make the most of what she has. I just wish she had more to do. With the fantastic job both leads did, it’s truly unfortunate that the direction and script really lets them down.

 

What I Didn’t Love

Orright here it is – the elephant in the room. The plot point that may have cost Passengers most of its opening weekend cash.  While I think a lot of the reviews have been overly harsh on the Jim waking Aurora plot, I do still have a problem. Jim is shown wrestling with the decision, and Aurora is shown dealing with the after effects, but because there’s no clear passage of time in the film, it’s extremely unclear how long they spent on these emotional arcs. Dialogue tells us Jim was alone for a year, and then with Aurora for a year before the ship’s malfunctions became catastrophic, but there’s no clear delineation between when she was in love and when she was betrayed – making her rage seem like it was over in an instant.   All of a sudden just because the ship is falling apart, all is forgiven.

WHAT THE ACTUAL WHAT????????

Seriously. She goes from screaming that he murdered her to full on macking in a medipod over the course of 10 flipping minutes. I just can’t even. Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but my god.

This leads into the ending. Okay, serious spoilerage here so really do look away if you don’t want to know.

passengers movie river song spoilers gif

That ending. What the hell Aurora?  I came home from the movie four hours ago and this ending is still bugging the hell out of me. Once the ship is safe Jim discovers that via a medipod, one of them can be placed back into hibernation. He asks Aurora to take it, believing this sacrifice is his penance for his poor decision.

And she doesn’t.

Seriously. She was screaming at him til she was blue in the face not a quarter of an hour ago and now she can’t live without him? Come on. We all deserve better than that. Its a lazy way to get around the consent issue because all of a sudden it was her choice. Stockholm Syndrome much?

This whole film frustrates me to no end. So much potential squandered away. Likely because someone decided you can’t spell sci-fi without explosions and didn’t like Chris Pratt dying alone. If you’re interested, the original script ending is detailed here, but prepare to be disappointed at what might have been. I know I was.

 

Worth Organizing Babysitting?

I went into this film with as open a mind as I could. I wanted to like you Passengers. You’re sci-fi, you’ve got Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt and Martin Sheen. I read some stuff on the internet, but I still gave you a try. I feel like Tyra says it best.

passengers movie tyra banks rooting for you gif

While the beginning and even most of the middle of the film are great, it’s let down by that terrible final act. The worst part is you find yourself walking out thinking about all the ways it could have been better. This movie is not worth wasting your precious child free time on. Wait for Netflix. Hopefully we will get a director’s cut that resolves at least some of the major issues.

 

My Rating: (2 / 5)

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14 comments

  1. I get to see a grown-up movie about once every two years so it has to be worth it! I had this one on my radar but think I’ll save myself for ‘The Mummy’. Thanks!

  2. I think I would have preferred the original ending. I disagree with the reviewer, I think that is an interesting sci-fi ending that also brings up ethical questions, just on a very different topic.
    It think it’s a shame that even in the original script they couldn’t think of a better reason to wake a woman up to …having a romantic plot is fine but really, “I demand one so therefore I shall”… I don’t know. Surely something else could be thought of.

    1. I definitely preferred the original ending. I’m not sure that there could be a good reason to wake her up though. Regardless of anything you’re condemning someone to a slow death but I think the original script deal with the aftermath better. I have a feeling even in the theatrical cut a number of scenes were probably gotten rid of that might have fixed some of the pacing issues.

  3. I totally understand the timeline thing. But let’s say that those 10 minutes were 6 months. Or a year. Maybe 2.

    Is redemption possible? Is it not human nature to love a good redemption story? My wife LOVED this movie. She’s an avid reader (60+ books a year) and we were talking about it and she just went on about how she loved the story of redemption. How someone could do something so evil and flat out WRONG, but yet how they could be redeemed and forgiven.

    Funny how something that is making the world go nuts, can be something that is kind of a basic tenant of human existence – the possibility for forgiveness, and redemption. (But again… I do understand that part of this is due to the fact that in movie time it all happened so quickly).

    For my part. I would have had no issues with the movie had the roles been reversed.

    1. I think if she’d been given more time (or at least the timelines were more obvious) it would have definitely removed a lot of my objections. It just made her emotional arc seem forced and unrealistic. He was literally stalking her around the ship, despite her screaming to leave her alone then boom, he’s forgiven.

      I did love the concept of redemption – it’s a beautifully human idea, but that timeline just really spoiled it for me. Aurora doesn’t seem like a character who’s given to split second decisions – especially given how long it took her to warm to Jim in the first place, so it felt strange that she would get past such a great emotional hurt so quickly.I much preferred the original ending, where although Jim did something awful it actually saved her life. It gives her much more motivation to forgive quickly. I’d definitely be keen to watch a directors cut, because I have a feeling a lot of my objections would be removed with a little extra dialogue.

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