Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Movie Review: Passengers (2016) wait for it...

Image result for passengers 2016A few months ago, I saw the first trailer for what appeared to be a visually stunning science-fiction film starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence.  There was a space ship, hyper sleep,  gravity defying action sequences and an ominous undertone that Pratt and Lawrence were in for a rough ride through the stars.  With all of the visual stimulation the trailer showcased, I counted down the days until screening day.  I'm a sucker for all films futuristic and science-fictiony.

The movie opens with very little setup as we are introduced to a giant ship traveling through space.  As it travels, we get a good look at the technology it uses to propel and protect itself.  Unfortunately an asteroid field gets the drop on this magnificent machine that somehow is unable to ward off the debris and sustains damage.  Passing through the space rock triggers a series of events that ultimately awakens Jim Preston (Pratt) from hyper sleep only to find the rest of the ship's occupants are still knocked out.

Puzzled by his new circumstances he begins to explore the vessel seeking answers, but unfortunately the control room of the ship is closed off and protected by a door that only Batman can open.  The only answers he receives early on come from an android bar tender named Arthur, whom he befriends.  Through this friendship he learns that the ship is only about 40 years into it's 120 journey to a new colony on a distant planet.  Whats worse is, although he's an engineer, he can't figure out how to return to hibernation so that he makes it to the new planet alive.

Although Preston has awaken early, the ship's guest services are fully functional.  Well, sort of.  It seems he couldn't be up sold and was quite comfortable with the economy package.  So in a space travel kind of way he has to rough it for a year.  Good for him Dance Dance Revolution is still around in the distant future.

Eventually all the time alone starts to chip away at him and he realizes he needs companionship.

I don't want to spoil the movie, but eventually his prayers are answered and boom, he now has a main space squeeze Aurora played by Jennifer Lawrence.  And this is where the movie takes a turn I wasn't expecting.

The first half of the movie focuses solely on their friendship/relationship taking shape.  It's cool and I guess makes you want to root for their success, but ultimately it's drawn out a little too long and made me check my watch a few times.  They are the only two people awake on a space ship.  They both know their fate if they can't return to hibernation and well, getting back to sleep probably isn't happening.  So just Adam and Eve this thing and lets keep it moving.

As the two leads are busy courting each other and taking advantage of Aurora's frequent flyer miles trouble is brewing.  Actually, it had been brewing for over two years, they just had no way of knowing.  This is also where the "womp womp" moments begin.

The most captivating action pieces comes when the gravity drive goes haywire and the engine needs some attention.  Fortunately Pratt's character is a mechanic - what were the odds?

In the end, I found this moving disappointing as the first half reminded me of slow-moving football game with neither team scoring.  You just hope for a great half-time show and see if either team finally wakes up.  Oddly enough that's exactly what happens in this movie, but I was left feeling like the second half performance was not worth the wait.

Here are my takeaways from Passengers:

  • I appreciated how much science was present in the movie regarding space travel.  There is no warp speed here and they make it clear if you leave Earth bound for another planet say goodbye to friends and family.
  • I was bothered by the fact that the company that built the ship did not plan for emergency protocols.  Several times it was mentioned that their technology doesn't fail.  Really...  That's how we are gonna roll in the future?  
  • I'm guessing over the next thousand years humans are going to make some serious breakthroughs in birth control.
  • The math doesn't make sense.  The ship contains 5,000 people.  They are supposed to be awaken 4 months before arrival to the new planet.  Aurora and  Jim are awake for quite some time.  Wouldn't food supplies, oxygen, water, etc run out eventually?  
  • The ending was wack and not what I expected.  In fact, the ending is what I was looking most forward to considering the movies various weak points.  So when we finally reach the end of the story viewers are left with a very loose ending.
  • How hot is a red star?  How hot is a fusion reactor?  
The movie provides great eye candy, but in the end, it's not enough.  Redbox this one unless you just love all things Jennifer Lawrence or Chris Pratt.  If you do decide to theater this one you should definitely catch the matinee and sneak your food in.  


Disclaimer: Steve is an employee of Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner, however the views expressed in this post are of my own.

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