Happy Friday All,
So with only two days to go until Christmas Day, and despite the manic crowds in Galway City, I got all my shopping done and dusted yesterday. Hallelujah! Not only that, I also managed to sneak in a trip to the cinema to see Passengers, the new movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.
I was excited to see this one because these two are among my favourite actors at the moment and the plot sounded intriguing when it was first announced last year. I’m going to talk a bit about the movie here and there will be some slight spoilers, so proceed with caution if you haven’t seen it yet and would rather not know anything. First, here is the trailer if you haven’t seen it:
The movie takes place on the Starship Avalon spacecraft, which is transporting 5,000 passengers, who are placed in hibernation pods, to their new home on a new planet known as Homestead II. The journey is supposed to take 120 years, but due to a malfunction, engineer Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is woken from his slumber 90 years too early. At first all appears as normal until Jim notices that he is the only passenger who has woke up, and panic begins to set in when he realises that if he cannot find a way to get back into hibernation, he faces dying alone, trapped on the Avalon.
Well, not completely alone. He finds a bar manned by android bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen), but it’s not long before the lack of real human contact starts to affect him and drives him to do the unthinkable: waking a fellow passenger, and ultimately condemning them to the same fate as his own. That passenger is Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), a journalist, who is travelling to Homestead II to write a book on her experiences. They take advantage of the plush suites, robot manned restaurants and various forms of entertainment aboard the Avalon to pass the time. But as they inevitably grown closer, Jim and Aurora must try to find a way out of their predicament, or accept their fate.
There are a number of things to take away from this film. It’s a feast for the eyes, with the high-tech Starship Avalon beautifully realised, and some of the effects producing memorable shots. Keep an eye out for one in particular that involves Aurora taking a dip in the on board swimming pool during some anti gravity. It’s stunning. But while it takes place on an epic scale, the movie is still an intimate story that lives and dies on the performances of its actors. Both Pratt and Lawrence are on point, as you would come to expect from them at this stage. And there is a genuine chemistry between the pair, which is essential for a film like this to work. Micheal Sheen as Arthur, and the always reliable Laurence Fishburne, give solid support.
The movie works. For the most part. It hits good but never graduates to excellent. So how do I explain that without giving too much away? Well firstly the film’s tagline (“There is a reason they woke up early”) is a bit of false advertising as there is no apparent reason for them being the ones who woke. Perhaps you could argue there was some reason that Jim was woken up, but it doesn’t really present itself. As for Aurora, there is no apparent reason other than Jim’s own selfishness as to why she woke. That plot point is also a double-edged sword. Jim is painted as our everyman, our hero, and as such it is crucial that we root for him. And while his choosing to wake Aurora up adds some dramatic tension in that we are waiting to discover if she will find out it wasn’t an accident, it’s hard to shake the fact that he has chosen to condemn this woman to the same horror that befell him.
Inevitably, she finds out and it is at this point that we are introduced to Fishburne’s character, Chief Gus Mancuso, but while he gives a good performance, his introduction is more of a distraction from the fact that the film doesn’t know where to go once the relationship between its two leads turns sour. The film’s end also poses a bit of a problem in that it’s not really an ending, or at least not a very satisfying one. Admittedly, it’s hard to know what the best ending for Passengers would be, but it’s easy to assume it could have been better than what we got.
Ultimately Passengers is worth your time, even if it doesn’t quite live up to expectations. It is one of those films that is sure to spark debate over questions such as: would you give up your life on earth to travel into space for 120 years? Would you wake somebody up if you found yourself in Jim’s position? And the film does have a good message behind it all: life is what you make of it, no matter the circumstances. Perhaps that, or something like it, should have been its tagline.
Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne
Runtime: 1HR 50M
What did you think of Passengers? Leave a comment and let me know?
Also, this week I got around to setting up an Instagram account for The Journals of a Journalist. I’d love to connect with you guys on there so you can follow me here if you like. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter if you so wish to 😃
Happy Christmas 🎄