This review contains mild spoilers
With Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) and Chris Pratt (Jurassic World, Guardians of the Galaxy) as the only survivors in the intergalactic travel ship called Avalon, so do the plot and slot center solely on the two. Nevertheless, we expect to see a great great chemistry between these ultra Hollywood stars regardless of their characters finally develop a romance. But little did we expect that Passengers turns out to be bizarre romantic, gets trapped between surreal and cheesy, as it feels like an ordinary love story transported to the outer space.
And just like other love stories, love at the first sight applies here even we still regard it as unpredictable as well as unreasonable. Instead of giving a romantic backstory, Passengers plots Jim Preston (Pratt) as a screwed up yet fine bachelor who accidentally finds love and falls in love with the only Sleeping Beauty on board. Uncertain whether this plot is on paper a coincidence or naturally tailored instead, an enraged Preston stumbles around Aurora Lane’s (Lawrence) hibernation pod. Repeatedly hopeless and lonely during his one-year spending inside Avalon, Preston starts thinking about happiness with Aurora as well as brings himself a nightmare of his own impulsive idea.
Long story short, after a moral struggling and frequent consultation with a human Android named Arthur (Michael Sheen), Preston finally wakes Aurora up. Yet this is not a fairy tale of Prince Charming kisses his Lovely Princess, it’s simply about a boy likes a girl next door and asks her for a date but in an unusual way. And so it goes, Preston with an excellent mechanic skills happens to know how to knock off Aurora’s pod system.
Boy Meets Girl’s Intergalactic Story
We personally find it’s kind of twisted that Passengers is all about love since the trailer highlights the space impact and survival story as major premise. The truth is the impact appears only as a supporting material to tighten the knot between the two. In other words, Avalon along with its destination is a lot more like a honeymoon trip packaged specially designed for Preston and Lane. And the impact is to test whether the newlyweds will survive the first year of marriage or ruin each other due to the unrevealed white lie.
Proven, after giving up on trying either to get back to sleep or reroute the ship to earth, the potential lovebirds decide to enjoy the swanky high-tech facilities inside. Spacious cabins, fine dine-in restaurant and whiskey bar, non-stop entertainment hub, name them all cos Avalon has them all. Later, both decide that they need each other thus lingers each other’s presence. Through the process, they become the happiest couple in outer space and almost tie the knot. It’s only matter of time for Aurora to find out the truth behind her awakening and for Preston that not all fairy tales end happily ever after.
Titanic, Gravity, and The Martian Altogether
Passengers contains many elements of sci-fi genre. Thanks to Avalon which takes over 100% setting materials. Specifically, it’s easy to appoint Gravity (2013) and The Martian (2015) whose stories are seemingly taken as references; a stranded man and/or woman struggling for a way to return earth. The only difference, Passengers is dominated by the lovey-dovey things so that as long as Preston and Lane stick together, anywhere is earth (read: home) for both; a quality which makes it resemble Titanic (1998) pairs who give no s*** of their whereabout.
Directed by an Oscar nominee for his biopic thriller, The Imitation Game (2014), Morten Tyldum should reevaluate what goes wrong with his Passengers. Given a talented duo, Passengers is a regression, another affirmation that perfect cast can’t always save thin story and uninteresting plot. The space snapshots, both from inside and outside, are mesmerizing but too extravagant and heavily exploited to overcome the flaws in earlier aspects.
Passengers leaves us only a good impression of how shiny and charming Lawrence and Pratt when they clean up and are well-groomed. Their chemistry works but not as great as indicated on the trailer. Their sex and kissing scenes appeal much more than other scenes but still can’t stop both from being haunted by the uncertain future. “You die, I die.” seems to be the last resort if anything bad truly happens. And if it were, Passengers would be that love story it actually wants to be.
Director: Morten Tyldum
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia
Duration: 116 mins