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.
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.
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.
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)