We rushed out to see Passengers this week, it really did sound like one to watch, with a cast of Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, and from director Morten Tyldum, who had brought us The Imitation Game and Headhunters, based on the Jo Nesbo book to critical acclaim.
The screenplay from Jon Spaihts had been on a blacklist since 2007 for most liked, yet unmade scripts so we had expected this to be one of this year’s best movies…
The Spacecraft Avalon is on a 120-year voyage to Homestead II, a new planet where many from Earth are aiming for, to start a new life. During this time all the crew and 5000 passengers are kept in hibernation pods until 4 months prior to reaching their destination.
The Avalon malfunctions after being hit by debris and this causes numerous malfunctions to the craft, from minor faults to lifts stopping and starting to the damage to one of the hibernation pods, containing James Preston (Chris Pratt)
He awakes, to find he is the only one on board, initial attempts to raise help are stopped at every attempt, an email to earth will take 5 years to get there and 19 years to return.He is also unable to access many parts of the ship as he is a lower class passenger, so many parts of the craft are off limits to him.
However, he is able to get a VIP suite by breaking in, as his reason he could get on the craft, is that he has a lower priced ticket as an engineer is a much desired trade on Homestead II.
He spends a year alone, using the many vast restaurants, sports halls and the like of a modern cruise ship, built for the passengers for the final 4 months of their journey heading to Homestead II.
His only real companion is Arthur, an android bar tender (played by Michael Sheen) he also unlike the many restaurants does at least have a human face.
During the year, he finds himself drawn to one of the passengers he has found within the log, her name is Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) a VIP passenger, who is a renowned writer.
The film will divide people here, as Preston makes the decision to wake her from hibernation. This of course will sentence her to death before their arrival to Homestead II, but he is incredibly lonely and in need of human companionship.
After her initial shock of the situation, she finds herself drawn to Preston and they begin to fall in love, and all is going well until Arthur discusses with Aurora how James awoke her from her sleep, she had no idea and now sees him as her murderer.
As the two now go their separate ways, more malfunctions begin to happen on board the Avalon, from lifts malfunctioning, the cereal machine supplying a ton of corn flakes rather than a bowl, gravity locks being lost and at one point we learn that Aurora found herself locked in her cabin for 2 days.
The numerous malfunctions force the awakening of Gus Mancuso (Laurence Fishburne) one of the chief engineers, but it wakes him far too soon and his body is going into shutdown fast. This does give him time to work out the problems but not fix them.
It will therefore need James and Aurora to work together to save the Avalon and its passengers and crew, even thought it is likely to cost them their lives.
The film is visually stunning to look at. Pratt and Lawrence are great as the two leads and the storyline of what would you do helps make this film memorable, but for all the effects, this does feel very much like James Cameron’s Titanic. Two passengers from different social standings meet and fall in love, only for an impending doom to follow. Will the Avalon go the same way as the Titanic, or can our two passengers save the day?
As mentioned, the dilemma of the film is how you feel about Preston waking Lane, is this the act of someone desperate or the act of a much darker stalker? We learn the ship is heading for doom and therefore it does need 2 people awake to fix the issue so it does seem the right thing to do but how do you choose, surely you would have woken the captain or the chief engineer?
The film for all its flaws was a great watch, just not one that I hoped for. If you are looking for a Science Fiction Romance this could be just the film for you.
You can watch the trailer here at the film’s website
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