I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to get really really excited when I first heard about the year’s final blockbuster being a space drama starring Jennifer Lawrence & Chris Pratt. I’m not really sure what I was expecting it to be like, but I can’t help but feel a little bit let down by it.
Jennifer Lawrence & Chris Pratt star with Morten Tyldum in the directors chair, from a script by Jon Spaihts. Tyldum was the director of 2014’s critically acclaimed The Imitation Game, & Passengers marks his first film since then; then Spaihts is the guy behind Prometheus & Doctor Strange which straight off the bat says the script could be a bit of a hit or miss.
Passengers is about the Avalon, a ship travelling across space towards Homestead II – a new planet where passengers are spending one hundred & twenty years in hibernation onboard to travel to for a new life. That’s the plan at least, until a mechanic named Jim (played by Chris Pratt) wakes up only thirty years into the journey, with a writer named Aurora joining him not long after. Awake way ahead of time & with no way of getting back to sleep they have free reign of the ship.
Jim is just a guy, & a guy who makes a bad decision. He fights with a lot & I don’t think it makes a bad person – it was a survival technique that he knew he may regret. He’s sometimes selfless & sometime not, a romantic but also a liar. I don’t know if he’s intentionally a character of extreme opposites or just the work of not-thought-out writing, but in this case it isn’t awful.
Aurora on the other hand is just a bit lacking with character work – like any solid personality maybe? We know Aurora is a writer, the same profession as her father but that’s the only backstory we get. She is ambitious & she is scared, which Jennifer plays well (obviously), but Aurora is kind of just hints of previous JLaw characters. I wish she had been explored more & at times they almost delved into it but then moved on without elaboration.
There is also Martin Sheen as Arthur, the droid barman. For a droid, he has a lot more personality than the other two. Apart from the fact where he (a robot who can follow orders easy peasy) just goes ahead & betrays Jim’s direct request just to progress the storyline. Not all that well thought out there. Still, he may be the best character.
Minor spoiler, there’s also Laurence Fishbone as Gus Mancuso, a ship worker who wakes up at one point to again progress the story – basically just to hand over his all access wristband to main characters. I tend to keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible, but in this case I can’t not talk about one thing. This is a film about two caucasian people trapped alone in space & yet they still manage to kill a black character off. In a really stupid, unemotional way. Which is obviously not great. It’s almost 2017. I also can’t find any photos of his character online so that’s a great representation of the problem I’m talking about too.
The writing is all a bit of a cliché, but it is fun at times. One massive problem that I had with it is that a lot of the storyline is totally unoriginal – it’s all just a jumble of other films mashed together. There’s a bit of Gravity, The Martian, Titanic etc etc all Frankensteined together to make a new romantic drama. The story isn’t incredible or that dramatic but it’s watchable, with a few moments of writing that cause you to wince a little bit: one being Aurora’s line: “Ugh! Space! The one thing I do not need more of!”; & also that shocker of an ending which proves that medical science has somehow advanced rapidly whenever this film is set. Honestly it’s eye-rolling cheesy.
Costume is simple. It’s unsure what year this could possibly be set in, as it looks pretty current just all the characters are totally unphased by the idea of travelling through space for over a century to go live on a new planet. Their clothes have no imagination into hinting at what period it could be in either, simply dressing each character in clothes that display their status. Then there’s one swimsuit that Jennifer revisits again & again thats’s kind of cool, but that’s about it.
The one thing that could have made this really cool to see would have been some of the special effects, most notably the pool scene where there’s a gravity loss. Only problem is, that one clip was broadcast e v e r y w h e r e as advertisement for the film so you knew it was coming, & when it happened it just gained the response “Oh. There’s that bit from the trailer”. They should have saved that bit, trusted that people would come to see the film, & left that to impress.
Passengers was a laugh. It was entertaining enough to watch with my coworkers just becasue we spent the film spluttering at the cheesy lines, & one of us straight up walked out at the ‘miracle’ at the end. It’s unimpressive, but it’s fun.
Passengers is in cinemas worldwide now.
If it had come out before Interstellar or Gravity then it would have been astounding. Unfortunately I think this marks the end of incredible, mind blowing films set in space.
If you’re going to see it, don’t expect it to be an Oscar contender. Go in expecting a bit of fun & you’ll enjoy it just fine.
Passengers is in cinemas worldwide from today.