Passengers | Review with Spoilers
If I blink too long or go out for a night it appears I fall grossly behind on the websites – they need to pay me more so I can do it full-time dammit :). PASSENGERS was a science fiction movie I watched before Christmas but it got bumped back and back and back so I could get my Top 20 list written and now, finally, it is time. You have no doubt already heard about this JLaw CPratt vehicle that is a little too much style over substance. PASSENGERS is out now from Roadshow and while it is definitely not making any of my top lists, on a positive note, my mum thinks it’s a 5/5 movie. It is rated M and runs for 116mins.
BY JASON KING
PASSENGERS is about two passengers on the sexiest space ship there ever was. The spaceship (Avalon) is just epic, Avalon holds a lot of people who are all in hibernation. The ship will take a bit over 100yrs to get to its destination. Its destination is a planet that humans will be colonising, Avalon will wake people up one month prior to arrival and all will be well. All will be well until spaceship hits a monumental meteor storm 90+ years before arrival. The damage is quite bad and as such one man is woken up because his pod is damaged. A little while later a second passenger is awakened and not long after this a cascade science fiction shit storm starts effecting every system on the ship. They need to resolve all the issues or lose the ship, the thousand or so passengers and oh, yeah, die.
There’s hardship, love, anger, hate, action, isolation, an amazing ship, cue credits.
STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE:
The film is bloody beautiful to watch, with many scenes and sets that are mind blowing. That pool and the pool scene itself is just spectacular, the spacewalks likewise. The restaurants and robots and everything in between is amazing. The imagined future is grand and the scale of the movie is epic. There is some cleverness in the movie that gets it some points. The bar and barman, for example, are designed around the bar from THE SHINING. In Jim’s bedroom, check out the Roadshow logo in plain site. Aurora’s name is shared with sleeping beauty’s and when Jim sleeps it is the Aurora Borealis displaying on the wall monitor signifying a reversal of who is watching who. I loved finding out all this trivia.
PASSENGERS is probably the best looking aesthetic looking movie of 2016. When producers realised they had Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt together in a movie they were probably like “holy shit, lets throw every penny in Hollywood at this movie.” And thanks to that they could afford the two actors and make a huge budget film with the best of everything, the highest of quality and whatever they want to make this film they got. The film script by Jon Spaihts (DOCTOR STRANGE, PROMETHEUS) was a blacklist film from 2007 and was looking at being made back then with Keanu Reeves and Rachel McAdams in the lead roles. At one stage David Fincher was even rumoured to be directing.
That would have been a much better choice. The film lacks the depth and darkness lingering at the centre of the story that is basically never developed. Spoiler………………….it is Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) who wakes Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). The film went with romance, grumpy when discovered, to OMG we are going to die, I really love you. The opportunity to make this one hell of a dark, Stockholm syndrome movie was swept out the airlock with the scientific logic of the movie.
The film is bland in the telling, where was true conflict besides a grumpy month long tanty? The barman, Arthur, is aptly named to his namesake, King Arthur. King Arthur was taken to Avalon (the ship) to heal from his wounds. We see Arthur have a full blown fuse blowing, and we see him betray Jim but what a missed opportunity this was to be so much more. Aurora loses her shit when it is revealed Jim woke her, basically sealing her fate. We see her not speak to him and hate him for a while and we see Jim consumed by guilt. But we never see what could have become of this, what if Jim wasn’t such a nice guy? Aurora is in all reality the hostage of a man she doesn’t know – a hostage on a 90+ year sentence.
And I suppose this is why I wasn’t the hugest of fans but my mum was. It’s not a sci-fi, it’s not a hostage film, it’s a romance. There is no swearing, it is light-hearted and it looks good, it is basically a family movie.
The cast, all five of them, are people I love on film. I can watch Pratt and Lawrence in anything. Their chemistry is a little lacking but they are forced together so I can accept it being a little less than perfect. But their real-life chemistry is so funny at times I pictured them more like brother and sister in the movie. JLaw looks sublime in her costume in that pool and for the first time Pratt gets his naked on. They are fine with what they were given.
Michael Sheen makes a great robot and I would have loved to have seen his possibility for darkness increase.
Laurence Fishburne is ok but he was again wasted in his role, wake him up and kill him a few hours later, this was kind of lame. Even lamer was having Andy Garcia in a movie for less than a minute’s screen time and without dialogue – that was just plain stupid.
PASSENGERS is style over substance but looks phenomenal. It’s great for the entire family and has some very cool space, spaceship and action scenes. The potential to make this a work of genius and explore much darker themes was sadly squandered over making a puff piece.
Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan.
** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.