Honestly speaking, I thought this movie was going to be an absolute mess. Passengers came out in 2016 in the USA and it came out in January of 2017 in India and the overwhelming bad reviews really put me off and that’s why I waited till the BR came out. After watching it, I think it would have been great to watch it in the theatre. As I had read the initial Jon Spaiths script I’d have known the ending but still, it would have certainly been worth a watch in the theatre. So, before I begin I just want to say this that I am not a huge fan of Jennifer Lawrence and her off-screen antics but damn was she looking really fine in this movie.
That said, allow me to begin with my review. So we begin the movie with the spaceship, Avalon, heading towards an Earth like planet called Homestead 2. On board this ship are 5000 Passengers(roll credits!) who are making their way onto Homestead 2 to begin a new life. As the Avalon passes through an asteroid belt a very large meteor appears and the display shows a warning for collision. After a loud rebooting sound Jim Preston’s(Chris Pratt) hibernation pod opens up and he wakes up only to find out that he is the only one who has woken up and he has woken up 90 years early. Soon, out of desperation Preston opens up the pod of a girl he is fallen in love with, Aurora Lane(Jennifer Lawrence) and now together they are stranded on this ship to live or die.
Now, there lies my first problem. I don’t know if you have read the script but the fact that the spaceship passes through the asteroid belt was never even mentioned in the opening page of the script. That’s why there was a sense of mystery as to why Jim’s pod malfunctioned and he woke up. At least that’s the feeling I had while reading it. Here, as the whole “warning, collision” sign was shown, it became evident that that was the reason that caused the entire malfunction. Due to that now you’re disconnected with the protagonist who, on the other hand, is still in the dark. So when you see Preston doing stuff and trying to figure out what the problem is, in your head you’re shouting “It’s because of the asteroid belt, so look for hull breaches”. I guess that’s what you’ll be thinking if you have watched Aliens or Star Wars or any such space related movie. Duh!
Another problem that I felt that the movie lacked was the sense of psychological tension and I blame that on the director, Morten Tyldum. There was a major scope to go full Kubrick and put us in the head of the protagonist(s). Instead of that, the whole breakdown into depression had a Marvel-esque feel to it or a PG-13 feel to it. He should have got his hands dirty with psychedelic imagery and outbursts and hallucinations before the protagonist tried to take any form of desperate decision. There were small spurts of attempting such a vibe but it was really small and didn’t often last very long.
Now, onto the good stuff. Once Pratt and Lawrence gets together, the film does begin to be more watchable. I say that because the way the whole depression phase of Preston was shown, it didn’t help me feel for the character. I didn’t think that yes, now he should pull Aurora out of her pod. Still, when he does it and gets together with Aurora and the way he talks with her does evoke the feeling of how lonely he actually he was. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence gave very heartfelt performances. I wasn’t actually impressed by their chemistry from the trailers but it was a lot better while watching it in the film. Even though it’s highly improbable that Lawrence’s character would give up so quickly and fall in love but what can you do in a situation like that, right?
Talking about performances, Michael Sheen and Lawrence Fishburne’s roles felt really wasted. It seemed like there was a lot potential there. There was a really fitting sendoff to Fishburne’s character and Tyldum cuts away a bit too soon from that scene. I don’t know why they deviated from that. Also, I don’t know how they managed to rope in Andy Garcia into this. Maybe they’re planning to do a sequel about something that will happen at Homestead 2. Who knows!?
I loved the design of the spaceship. It had a very elegant feel to it. Even though the interior of the ship sometimes felt too good to be true, so instead of giving a sense of claustrophobia, it looked really shiny and expensive. The external shots of space were really beautiful and it managed to give a sense of magnitude. The action set-pieces were shot very impressively. I mean, I was white-knuckling through those scenes. It was intense and that was the only moment where I started to feel a sense of fear for these characters. Again, the movie really digresses from the script on a huge level and thus reduces the reasoning for as to why Aurora falls for Preston after all he has done. To discuss about that I’ll give a spoiler warning after the final verdict.
FINAL VERDICT– It’s a pretty watchable movie, and yes, you should definitely check it out. It has pretty people doing pretty decent acting and a sort of Titanic in space. I would have really loved it if it would have been a mix of The Shining and A Space Odyssey with a little pinch of love. Also, as the sense of mystery is given up early in the movie, it takes a lot of time to start relating with the characters. Still, it’s a pretty good movie and you should check it out because it has Star Lord and Mystique in it.
Thanks for reading.
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Now, I have given the spoiler warning. If you are reading this beyond this point then you’re travelling into spoiler territory. Here we go.
So in the movie, Preston and Aurora find the hull breach and they see that the reactor is over-heating and in order to let the heat out someone has to manually open the shaft. So Preston volunteers to go and when he is going out, Aurora tells him to come back. Now, that felt like a real cop-out. The magnitude of destruction to Aurora’s life that Preston has caused really goes out of the window due to one act. I mean, that isn’t reason enough to forgive him. Instead she should have been thankful that he is going out because he bloody deserves it. Eventually she would have found out that the medical dock can put someone into hibernation and presto! She would have made it to Homestead 2.
That felt, more of a cop out because the reason why Aurora forgave Preston had a more solid reason in the script. According to the script, in the final moments the reactor overheats, starts to malfunction and the passenger pods start to eject into space. Can you imagine! People being ejected into space, into nowhere. Aurora witnesses that and after securing the reactor she understands that what Preston did, actually gave her chance to live. Even though it will be a life on the ship, that is a 1000 times better than being ejected into space. Due to that realisation Aurora eventually forgives Preston and then we get the apparent happy ending. I think that felt more believable than the cliched Hollywood ending that the movie got.