Friday, April 28, 2017

Movie Review: Passengers (2016)

Passengers (2016) directed by Morten Tyldum

The spaceship Avalon is taking 5000 passengers and 258 crew members on a 120-year journey from Earth to a colony planet. During a freak meteor shower, the ship is damaged and one of the hibernation pods opens 90 years before their destination. The man inside the pod, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), is a mechanical engineer who is now stranded on the giant ship with only the robot bartender (Michael Sheen) as anything close to human companionship. The rest of the interactive AIs on the ship keep telling him that the pods are fool-proof and can't possibly malfunction. Jim goes through every possible way to get back to hibernation or to wake up crew members to help him with the ship. Nothing works and he sinks into very dark times. He accidentally notices one of the other passengers, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), and does research on her (all the passengers did video biographies, apparently), thereby falling in love with her. He struggles for months over whether he should wake her or not. Finally, the desperation of his loneliness drives him to wake her. They develop a relationship as the only two people on the ship. He doesn't tell her what he's done and hopes that they will be happy even though they'll never make it to the destination alive. Little systems keep glitching around them, hinting at greater problems to come.

The story has three definite stages. First is Jim's survival and his moral quandary over waking Aurora. Obviously (even to Jim) it's the wrong thing to do but the story won't go anywhere without him eventually doing it, opening up the second stage. Now, Aurora goes through a similar arc of trying to fix the problem and eventually coming to terms with the situation. The romance moves slowly and charmingly, and naturally dies when she finds out, which also seems eventual. The ship starts falling apart more rapidly at this point, causing the two to work together to get the ship back on line so the other 5,256 people on board can make it. This final stage of the story also seems inevitable and works out pretty much the way these stories always do.

The movie suffers from predictability. I know some people who were genuinely appalled at his decision to wake her and couldn't get past that. While I think it was wrong, I also realize the very human need for companionship and was moved by the depiction of the agony of his life. I was able to get past it. The actors are very charming and give good performances. The special effects look great and the plot is entertaining if not original. So the movie as a whole has good and bad parts.

I enjoyed the movie but think it's fairly average and the sort of movie you watch once and you're done with it.

No comments:

Post a Comment