‘Passengers’ was featured in the 2007 blacklist for ‘most liked’ unmade screenplays of the year and yes, it is going to be one of those films that’s very contentious. With mixed reviews and a 40 metascore standing, there’s definitely a sense that it hasn’t lived up to its hype. However, there are pros and cons to Passengers:
Passengers opens up with a stylish sequence that showcases The Starship Avalon and the typical sci-fi iconography that comes along with it. The Starship Avalon is a spaceship that is travelling from Earth to a new land called Homestead II. Unfortunately, this ship isn’t meteor proof (slightly ironic) so little meteors get jammed into the ships exterior, knocking many of the computers off balance. Mechanic, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is a casualty of this, his hibernation pod wakes him up 90 years too early. So not only does Jim have to settle down into the ships living system but he also has to comprehend the fact that he will be living alone for the next 90 years. The film captures this sense of panic perfectly by placing Pratt’s character in very claustrophobic situations. As Jim survives a year through loneliness, he gives up all sense of presentation and hope by growing a hermit beard, walking around in the nude and even contemplating suicide. So ravaged with despair, Jim’s only solace is the musings of writer Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence); three guesses as to why they picked that name. Jim decides to wake Aurora up.
It is quite interesting that the trailer seems to give off the idea that they both wake up and are destined to be together because of this, instead of Jim actually engineering the whole process for his own gratification. The film deals with this theme of decisions and how one decision can change your whole life, just as one whole minute can drastically affect your future. Aurora and Jim do find love with each other and the pairing gives real meaning to ‘if you were last person on earth’ sentiment that’s commonly used as an insult. However, Aurora (as any sane person would) thinks her life is over and in between the sweet moments of happiness, a deep dread sets in. She muses that she is “trapped in a steel world”, it is particularly interesting that she used this phrasing as this could be dauntingly relevant to earth right now. In 10 or 20 years we could be trapped in a steel world, technology and artificial intelligence paving the way, eventually eradicating the need for nature. The phrase also gives life to the sentiment ‘the grass is always greener’, Aurora left earth to move to a far off more natural planet only to be left stranded on a sinking ship. Yes, she finds love but still!
Passengers showcases the lengths that we go to, to not be alone. Aurora finds out about Jim’s betrayal but the reason behind it, however sick does have some validity. For some reason, I had a lump in my throat throughout the whole film, I’m not sure whether it was due to the wonderful mix of beauty and sadness that echoes through the film or whether it was the genuine sense of panic that I associated myself with. There was a definite parallel between Passengers and ‘Guardians of Galaxy’, for which Chris Pratt also stars, when Jim floats through space losing oxygen. Both Jim and Star-lord are revived but I couldn’t help notice the deja vu happening before my eyes.
Both Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt were fantastic, Lawrence always delivers and always makes you empathise with her character. She mixes a blend of cheekiness with abject horror to make a wonderfully empathetic splendour that captures the audience. I must also say, I have always been a big fan of Chris but have never seen him capture a vast array of emotions as he did starring as Jim, he was by far the standout of this film. When self checkout machines don’t know the difference between a pasta sachet and a bottle of orange juice it’s a wonder anyone puts their whole life in the hands of technology. But that is precisely what we are doing, we rely on phones, computers and tablets to do our day to day activities, to entertain us and sustain us. But we must always remember that there are downfalls to this and unless you want an ‘Alien’ or ‘The Martian’ experience, then I would stick to what you know and keep things in manual. The marketing for the film has been pretty good as well, in Leicester High Cross elevators, the tannoy will tell you that you have boarded The Starship Avalon and trailers and billboards have been generous.
There are some flaws, the film unlike The Starship Avalon, doesn’t seem to know where its going. It’s incredibly slow paced in the beginning and the action scenes advertised in the trailer only appear in the last 35 minutes. It never seems to have a destination in mind which makes the ending incredibly hard to predict. Sometimes that can be a good thing but in disaster movies like this, not so much. It also feels like it is trying to emulate previous sci-films which results in a hybrid creation of two movies and it unfortunately gets caught up on this.
Overall, Passengers delivers a fantastic mix of sheer panic, beauty and dread all wrapped up in one moral message. The film is not perfect by any means, but it is definitely not as bad as some reviews are painting it out to be. However, as always it is completely up to opinion.
If you see Passengers, or have seen it, why not let us know what you think by tweeting us at @thedemondmu.