Passengers Review

“Passengers” is directed by Morten Tyldum starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.  The film takes place in deep space aboard the Avalon, carrying thousands of people to a new planet called Homestead II.  When a meteor shower penetrates the Avalon, a series of unfortunate events malfunctions the ship causing Chris Pratt’s character Jim to awaken 90 years too soon.  Along with Jennifer Lawrence’s character Aurora, they must find a way to fall back asleep before they die of old age.  “Passengers” was written by John Spaihts who was a writer on Ridley Scott’s 2012 film “Prometheus” as well as “Doctor Strange.”

“Passengers” is a good time at the movies, but it is also somewhat hollow.  There are a lot of things to admire about the film, while others are eye rolling cheesiness.  The first thing is that every outer space travel movie directly takes inspiration from “Alien,” or more recently “Prometheus,” whether looking at the hibernation pods, the “androids” as they call them in this film or the way the starship is laid out with tight claustrophobic corridors.  And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make the film a little bit un-original.  And besides some corny acting by Jennifer Lawrence and some poor script choices near the end of the film, the movie does what it sets out to do and entertain and I was thoroughly entertained by “Passengers.”

Visually this is a stunning movie to look at.  The CGI was well done and the spaceship designs were pretty cool.  I loved all the different kinds of technology used in the film and thought it made the ship a character in itself.  Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt had a decent amount of chemistry but there are some horribly cornball moments with their dialogue that felt excruciating.  I thought they played their roles to the best of their ability minus the lack of dramatic chemistry.  The other thing that I liked was the fact that the movie never really took itself too seriously which is why I bought it.  It had a very late 90’s feel to it.  Late 90’s science fiction films weren’t great movies but they had enough repeat entertainment value to catch over and over again on television like “Serenity,” “Pitch Black” or even “Event Horizon.”  “Passengers” had that feel to it.  It was neither exceptional nor horrible but somewhere right in the middle and it was entertaining enough.

The couple of issues that I had with the movie could have made this a great movie if improved.  First, the trailers make you believe that there’s going to be this huge twist.  Brace yourselves, there isn’t a twist at all and that for me was kind of a letdown.  I think this movie would have been better served if a certain twist was revealed later on.  Also, Lawrence Fisburne make a small cameo for God only knows why.  His character literally served no purpose in the story and I’m still trying to understand why his character was in this movie.  He does certain things that could have been done other ways but that’s nitpicking but for me it’s a screenplay issue.  And lastly, the last 20 minutes of the film are so unbelievably corny and it felt extremely fake, phony and not very believable.  I didn’t like the last bit as it seemed to really be stretching the overall silliness of the plot.  Other than those few things, “Passengers” was a pretty good time at the movies.  Is it a great one, nope but it served its purpose and it was entertainment at best.

“Passengers” had some decent acting, great action and special effects and a thrilling visual style that made it worth the trip to the theater.  “Passengers” won’t go down on any top ten lists this year but I found enough things in “Passengers” to really enjoy.  This is a forgettable space drama with wonderful special effects and a somewhat stale storyline that you won’t remember in the comings weeks.  But if you are up for a two hour adventure then check “Passengers” out.  Or if you want to wait until you can stream it, that’s probably the better option.  “Passengers” has its moments but doesn’t quite live up to greatness.

Grade:  B-

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