2 out of 5 stars
If you had the opportunity to start over, would you jump at the opportunity to sleep for 120 years and wake up to a new life on a new planet? What if that re-start included Chris Pratt or Jennifer Lawrence, would you be more likely to sign up for the voyage? These are some of the questions to consider from Passengers.
The passengers and crew of the Starship Avalon are looking to begin a new life on Homestead II, a human colony on a new planet. These modern day pilgrims must remain in a hibernated sleep for 120 years in the journey and be awakened prior to the arrival to a new century, a new planet and a new life. During their flight, the supposedly impregnable star cruiser malfunctions and causes the early awakenings of Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Dunn (Jennifer Lawrence). Their premature arousal occurs 90 years too early and they must work through the options of life on the Avalon as the soul residents. While grappling with the psychological, emotional and physical challenges, they become aware of the reason behind the hibernation pods malfunction and what they must do to save themselves and the souls of their fellow sleeping colonists.
The combination of two of Hollywood’s hottest names in this science fiction version of Titanic seems to be cinematic gold. Along with his stars, director Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) has been given a fresh concept to grab the attention of audiences during the holiday season. With the combination of romantic electricity, moral juxtapositions and exceptional special effects, what could go wrong? Like the meteor shower that causes the problems for the space vessel, the holes in the plot and script make it difficult for this ship to sail.
In the attempt to develop the weight of the psychological tension building in the lives of the lead characters, the whole experience becomes laborious. The manner that Tyldum communicates the moral implications of all involved becomes a Kubrick-light affair in the desire to develop the tension of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but without the same artistry. In attempting to communicate the length of time spent in space, they failed to invest in realistic make up for the physical changes in Pratt and Lawrence. The misstep of the make up could be overlooked, but the script failed to maintain a believability and accessibility. Even within the sci-fi genre, things do need to have a certain order. Jon Spaihts' screenplay delivers the same result as his less than satisfying science fiction adventure, Prometheus. A slow an arduous affair that tries to make up for its inaction through ridiculous action in the final few minutes. Which leads to an unforgivable misuse of Laurence Fishburne (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) as a miniscual storyline conduit which led to laughable actions by the lead characters. The primary saving grace of the film was the inclusion of Michael Sheen (Far from the Madding Crowd) as the android Arthur. He provides the humour and conscience needed to keep the story moving forward and saves as a storyline pressure valve.
Passengers promises to deliver one of the rare romantic options for audiences during the holiday season. Coupling together two of the biggest cinematic stars in to the divergent genres of sci-fi and romance. Like the Starship Avalon, this project seems to have a problem with its circuitry and failed to maintain its course.
REEL DIALOGUE: Morality v widom?
The moral conundrum seen in Passengers comes down to making the right decisions in life. Especially those choices that have a direct and long-lasting impact on other people’s lives. Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) has to wrestle with his loneliness, selfishness and the consequences of his life choices. Which begs the question: How do you make life decisions?
The Bible offers methods that involve God as the means of finding wisdom in all things. Through the study of the Bible, prayer and getting counsel from godly men and women.
Passages on getting wisdom: Proverbs 3:13-18 & 12:15, Ephesians 5:15-17, James 1:5 & 3:17