Passengers is the latest inter-stellar blockbuster in the town.
Film Review: Passengers
Cast : Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne
Director : Morten Tyldum
Genre : Science Fiction, Romance
Running Time : 116 minutes
Passengers begins with a very interesting premise: Jim the mechanic and Aurora the writer are two of the 5000 passengers in suspended animation aboard the spaceship Avalon on a 120-year old voyage to the planet Homestead II, a colony of earth. Except disaster strikes, and Jim wakes up to realize his hibernation pod has malfunctioned and he has to live out the rest of his days on a luxury spacecraft bereft of all living contact.
Let’s talk about the high points of the film first. As a science-fiction flick, the movie does it pretty well with standard special-effects and thrills. The starship Avalon where the entire film is set is magnificently realized, down to the Android bartender Arthur, the ripples of the infinity pool reflecting stardust and the futuristic technology. The 3D if not too grand makes floating in empty space seem an ethereal experience. The climax may seem to familiar and cliched for hardcore fans of Doctor Who and Star Wars, nevertheless packs in the adrenaline rush for the viewers and over all passes off as an entertaining sci-fi romance story. And finally, both Chris Pratt and Jennier Lawrence deliver stellar performances. But the film does have its issues.
If it scores well on the sci-fi front, it loses on the romance angle. Firstly, the entire relationship between Jimmy and Aurora is based on a much toned down version of Stockholm Syndrome, which naturally makes the movie problematic although the director has tried to mitigate the effects with a plot that would not be out of place in a typical Bollywood film. Jim who has been alone in the spaceship for over a year falls in love with the assumed character and books of the sleeping Aurora and decides to wake her up- thereby condemning her to his same fate of ageing and dying on the star ship. Aurora, without knowing the truth, gradually falls in love with the only stranger on the ship and makes the best of the circumstances. Of course when she realizes it, the film avoids the fiasco by introducing another very standard gimmick: their ship is malfunctioning and if the two don’t unite and help each other, everyone is going to die, etc etc.
Another big problem for the film is of course the flawed storytelling. The film is riddled with so many plot-holes, the entire situation of being stranded in space, seems way too contrived. In other words, the love story dysfunctional but also rather forced. For instance, not only is it impossible for the characters to return to their hibernating pods which are advertised as being ‘fail-safe’, by repairing or building a new one, it seems rather unlikely that the ship which carries 5000 passengers and 258 crew members has only one infirmary to cater to everyone which contains precisely one hibernating pod-like device. Moreover, the sudden arrival and dismissal of Laurence Fishburne’s role as Chief Gus Mancuso seemed way too rushed and a waste of potential.
So should you watch this film? It does an okay job of exploring loneliness and the primal need for companionship- the shot where Jim holds the gloved hand of a spacesuit like a lover’s is heartbreaking. Plus there’s thrill, some laughs, some romance and decent special-effects and if sci-fi is your thing you might want to give it a try. For others, it makes for a modest time pass watch but not much else.