Film Review & Trailer: Passengers

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Frances Winston reviews this latest sci-fi/romance being touted as the space version of Titanic

Directed by: Morten Tyldum –  Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Sheen

This is actually quite an educational movie. I learned that when you are put into suspended animation, your hair or nails don’t grow, and (in the case of Lawrence’s character Aurora) you awake with your blow dry as intact as the day you went to sleep.

I also learned that in the future, strappy gladiator style heels, wedges, and hi-tops are all still valid fashion choices (what a relief).

It also seems that queues for doctors will still be as bad in the future, since this film features a ship with 5,000 people, and only one medical pod!

In terms of Titanic in space, which this has been touted as, the lack of sufficient medical pods is probably the closest this gets to that movie (if you compare them to the lack of lifeboats on board the doomed liner).

Maybe nobody gets sick in the future. Who knows? Anyhow, Titanic this ain’t. This is due in no small part to the fact that the 5,000 passengers on this ship are all in a state of suspended animation (handiest extra gig ever!) so you don’t really care about them. Actually, you often forget they are there.

Pratt plays Jim, a mechanical engineer who signs up for a new life on Homestead II, and the 120-year voyage that entails. Obviously, you’re not awake for the journey, and he is nestled safely in a pod, and probably having some lovely dreams, when he unfortunately wakes up 90 years early.

With even the crew asleep, he has the run of the ship, but after a year of his own company, he is going a bit doolally (and his personal hygiene has definitely taken a turn for the worse) so he decides to wake up Aurora to keep him company. This is against the advice of his friendly local robot bartender, Arthur (Sheen – who probably drew inspiration from all the times he played Tony Blair).

However, his poor judgment aside, the pair click (not that you have much choice when you’re the only two people awake on a ship in the middle of outer space) and romance blossoms. That is until, of course, Aurora finds out the truth about her reanimation.

With the pair at loggerheads, it’s probably not the best time for another early-riser, crew member, Gus (Fishburne), to make an appearance. But he does, and he realises that something is very awry with the supposedly failsafe ship, which explains why Jim was woken early. It seems he will have to fix the problem, and save the day! Or let everyone die in a bloody explosion – it could go either way really!

This has a very clever basic premise. Unfortunately, Tyldum doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. He can’t decide if he wants this to be a sci-fi epic, or a romantic drama. Having such a small cast means that a lot rests on their shoulders, and not enough really happens to keep the viewer engaged.

Pratt and Lawrence have good chemistry, but both are acted off the screen by Fishburne, who, despite his character’s sole purpose seemingly being to point them in the direction of the fault in the ship, manages to own the screen.

Obviously, this is effects-heavy but even the scenes of space are somewhat underwhelming, as we’ve seen it depicted far better in films like Gravity. That said, I saw this in 2D, and they may look more impressive in 3D. Ditto the big set-piece, which isn’t nearly as suspenseful as it could have been.

Although this has some enjoyable moments, it suffers badly from a lack of action, and a lot of predictability. It’s extremely messy in places, and ultimately, it’s a bit unsatisfying – probably because there’s an underlying feeling that it could have been so much more.

That said, it’s definitely an antidote to all the festive fare currently on offer, and, yes ladies, there is a gratuitous Chris Pratt shower scene (it seems now that he worked his ass off to get buff, so he can’t wait to show off his ass!). This alone will justify the price of admission for some – if you’re into that kind of thing! (We don’t judge you for it).

In Cinemas Now!   See Trailer Below:

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