Passengers – Review

PG-13 | 116 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
Review – Matt Mungle

In theaters 12.21.16

Synopsis: A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.

Review: One of the main issues with the new sci-fi drama PASSENGERS is that it is just too pretty. Pretty people, pretty spaceship, pretty imagery, pretty boring. It is a fantastic concept with exceptional conversational themes but the viewer has to work hard to summon them up. You shouldn’t have to expend this much effort to find something positive to say. Is it possible that anything deep and meaningful in this film was an accident? Maybe.

Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) awakens to find he is a bit early to the party. 90 years early to be exact. He was supposed remain in a comfortable hibernation until the ship he is on made it to a new planet colony. Now Jim must face the fact that he will grow old and die alone while everyone else around him sleeps soundly. Even the top of the line space age comforts that were designed to accommodate the passengers once they were close to home can’t help his loneliness. When the beautiful Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) is also roused from slumber the two of them find comfort for a while with each other. That is until the ship starts really malfunctioning.

There are many things to like in the movie but it is akin to liking a mediocre post in social media. You click the button and keep scrolling, forgetting much of what you just saw. Jim has a year to try and find a way to survive before Aurora joins him. By then he is mentally drained. His only companion, a patronizing android bartender (Michael Sheen). When Aurora shows up the movie takes on a completely different feel. One of a romantic comedy. The two laugh and love and make the best of their situation. Then act three rolls around and the action adventure starts. The two must save the ship before all is completely lost. These three segmented pieces lack enough synergy to make the story as a whole cohesive.

Many people may like the fact that it is a slow think piece. There is much to wax philosophical about if you look at it as a journey of fate. The idea of our role as humans is a great starting point. Those who want peril to be the main star though will long for more intensity and less intimacy. I personally wanted a more survival driven narrative. I wanted the danger to come quicker and with more ferociousness. Also it would be interesting to see what made the cutting room floor. My gut tells me this movie ended up far different than what it set out as. Could it be that the beauty of the characters together clouded the directional judgment? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe this was the point all along.

The film looks incredible and the futuristic styling is breathtaking. The ship itself was designed to exude luxury and sophistication. The passengers, once they were meant to awaken, would find themselves in one of the most glorious of all traveling resorts. The main job was keeping them happy and pampered for the short journey to the new colony. If nothing else the movie is easy on the eye. Pine and Lawrence too are conveniently charming. Had one of them been the least bit homely and the plot would have plummeted fast. Which is disappointing. For the post conversations to hold water it shouldn’t matter.

PASSENGERS is rated PG-13 for sexuality, nudity and action/peril. There are a couple shots of a bare behind but the sexuality is about what you would see on network prime time. It is an adult film and most phone gazing adolescents would be bored early on anyway. I give it 3 out of 5 alarm clocks. It is an ok film where everything looks good. But don’t expect edge of your seat exhilaration.

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