Friday, 30 December 2016
5000 passengers are on board the 'Avalon', a spacecraft that will travel over 100 years to reach its destination where they will start a new life away from Earth. A malfunction happens and disturbs the hibernation pod of Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) waking him up 90 years too early. After a year of loneliness, he wakes up a woman, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) to solve that. As the two grow closer, secrets are spilt as the ship comes close to great danger with Jim and Aurora the only ones who can save it and the passengers on board.
'Passengers' works fairly well early on as it establishes that the ship isn't indestructible and malfunctions, waking up only Chris Pratt's character Jim Preston. We see Pratt shine here as he has to amuse himself for the time being which does show some of his comedy talents. But as expected, he becomes bored of this lifestyle, even to the extent of becoming depressed. Pratt does well again, this time showing more of a dramatic side. The situation he is in leads him to some dark moments which is fairly understandable. This leads him to wake up a fellow passenger, a decision that brings up a great discussion.
Preston becomes overwhelmed at first of the beauty of one Aurora Lane. The film really wants to get the message that Jennifer Lawrence is beautiful in this film. Apart from the obvious naming her after 'Sleeping Beauty', the film wants to show Aurora as touched up as possible when exercising, eating or doing anything really. Aurora is completely oblivious to what has happened to her and believes that she was accidentally woken up like Jim was a year prior. This does bring a very interesting premise to the film as you know that the truth will end up coming out. This brings a great deal of tension to the film as you await this truth being found out. Once Jennifer Lawrence is introduced, we see great chemistry between herself and Pratt is fantastic and it is enjoyable seeing two of Hollywood's biggest stars on screen. The romance seems realistic as the two bond over everything they do and take comfort within each other's company. The two are likeable actors which does help the film, but only for so long.
The main talking point that has caused some controversy with this film comes once Aurora finds out that it was Jim who woke her up. For me, I didn't like how this revelation was brought up simply out of the blue by Michael Sheen's robot bartender character. This seemed to be forced entirely to create some drama which ultimately did not work. At this point, the film does lose a lot of its quality. We see the fallout of the decision as Aurora completely loses it and cannot stand Jim at all. This part was actually handled fairly well but the film then throws in Laurence Fishburne. Fishburne is a great actor but his character is thrown in for one reason, to solve a problem with the story and disappear. He is brought in so that Aurora and Jim have access to parts of the ship that are restricted to passengers before he is quickly killed off. This was a very poor part of the film as it seemed to be thrown in for that reason alone which was incredibly obvious.
Once Fishburne's character is gone, the ship's troubles become worse, leading Jim and Aurora having to work together in order to save everyone on board.The film should have capitalised on this aspect, having the two work together with Aurora still unhappy about the situation. This would've shown the human spirit a lot better than it did the film with the ending being much more engaging and emotional. Aurora looks back at a video message sent from her friends back on earth where one friend says that she hopes Aurora finds someone to be with. This is apparently enough for Aurora to completely forgive Jim for what he did and fall straight back into love. This is what has caused most controversy about this film and I'd be lying if I said that this doesn't effect the film heavily. At this moment, you lose faith as you can't behind the motives of Aurora in this situation. Maybe they could've crafted something to get them back on decent terms but the film jut lazily throws her back into love with Jim. After this, you don't really care about what happens to either character.
The finale for this is quite the space spectacle as Jim and Aurora work together to save the ship. This involves Jim having to go outside of the ship and deal with many dangers. This full scene looks incredible - as does the rest of the movie- but there is one glaring problem, you've lost all interest in caring for these characters. The decisions that have been made lose the audience in a finale which really needs you to care. This goes to show, you can have a beautiful and well-shot action scene but if you don't care about the stakes, it is ultimately worthless. That is the main problem as 'Passengers' rounds up.
'Passengers' most definitely isn't as bad as everyone has been saying it is. The film for the first half works fairly well and works around Jim's action delicately as you anticipate the payoff. The payoff, however, is ultimately the downfall of the film. Pratt and Lawrence do well together and the film is shot beautifully with great looking sets but the film loses you towards the end. Disappointing as this film could have been so much more.
Final Verdict =
So have you seen 'Passengers'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!
By Angus McGregor