Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Passengers: A Bit Thin

THERE BE SPOILERS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The movie Passengers is an entertaining enough as a movie. The actors do their job. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence have really good chemistry on screen. It also has a visually a nice look, but I wouldn't waste the money on 3-D. 

Passengers also has a multitude of problems if you spend any time thinking about a movie that has a very thin plot and characters lacking any sort of depth. The problem is that Passengers suffers from one of those misleading advertising campaigns that don't really capture the film. 


The premise is fairly simple. Five Thousand souls plus crew are placed in animated suspension on a 120-year journey to a new life. The problem is that the ship runs into a huge meteor storm which causes one of the systems to fail. This failure results in waking Chris Pratt's character Jim ninety years too soon. What the trailers don't tell us is that Jim lives on the spaceship for just over a year before considering suicide and then falling in love with one of the sleeping passengers, Jennifer Lawrence's character Aurora. In his desperate loneliness, Jim struggles with whether he should awaken Aurora. He, of course, does awaken her and for a while pretends that she too has been brought to consciousness by accident. The suspension chambers are only meant to keep them asleep but do not have the capability to re-initiate the process once someone awakens. After another year, Aurora discovers what Jim did and of course hates him for it.

At its core, Passengers is a love story. The decision whether to awaken Aurora is the moral problem, unfortunately, it is not enough to drive the movie's plot which is more than a bit predictable. Jim is capable of fixing things and building things like robots and even opening the occasional locked door. Yet, Jim who is a mechanic with incredible abilities cannot seem to open the doors he needs to enter or even reprogram food dispensers to give him a better coffee even though he has convinced the computer that he can have access to better rooms and can bypass other systems on the ship like sleeping pods.

They live on a ship that has an amazing human-like android bartender (Michael Sheen) but has waiters that look like, well, robots. It is a ship that has no robots or androids that can repair systems when they go awry. It doesn't even have instructions to awaken a crew member when major systems fail. I think you begin to see the problems with the plotline. After establishing that Jim and Aurora are unable to access the bridge, the crew quarters, or get answers from the computer, we meet Laurence Fishburne's character Gus. In order for the plot to move forward, another character, this time a crewmember finds himself conscious. He helps Jim and Aurora discover what needs to be done to save the 4998 sleeping passengers plus crew. Gus then dies since his sleeping pod failure apparently causes catastrophic physical failure by its sudden awakening that didn't happen to Jim or when Jim bypassed the programming to awaken Aurora. 

The characters have little to no backstory for us to become involved in. We never understand how it is Jim described as a mechanic can do some pretty amazing things but fail at doing other things. Aurora is the wealthy daughter of an apparently famous writer. She is a self-described journalist. That's it. It's all we know about Jim and Aurora. Gus could've been a great character but he is little more than a plot point. Arthur the android and somewhat humorous bartender too is unused and has a great character possibility. Should I point out that Sleeping Beauty's name in the Disney film is Aurora or is that too much?

Passengers is entertaining enough but it is a simple love story. It is built around the moral choice of Jim, and Aurora has to learn to deal with that choice when she finds out. It doesn't make for a strong movie, just an okay one.