Never knew space could be so dull
Passengers (2016): A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.
Shout out to corporate-directed filmmaking. Sony has recognized the growing popularity of space-based films, and they wanted to jump on the bandwagon. Add Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, two of Hollywood's brightest young stars, and BOOM! You have a surefire success. Only problem is you need more than just two charismatic stars and space to make a good film, and Passengers fails on nearly every other level. What's worse is there's a major, essential plot point that is totally ignored in all the trailers that, if done right, could have made for an interesting and sinister story. But, instead, the film really could not try and move past it quicker, and given the marketing campaign for this film, they seemed pretty eager to move past it as well.
So it is impossible to discuss this film without addressing this plot point, so I will give you a big ol' SPOILER WARNING. Ignore this paragraph if you don't want spoilers! Well, it's not really a spoiler as this point happens in the first act of the film, but if you don't want to know anything about the story don't read this part. Spoiler: Chris Pratt wakes Jennifer Lawrence up! So Pratt is stuck on a ship after he wakes up 90 years too soon and is struggling to cope with the thought of dying alone long before he reaches the destination of this voyage through space. One day he walks by Jennifer Lawrence's hibernation pod, and he thinks, "Man, she is really hot! I should wake her up!" and then proceeds to do exactly that, and then proceeds to not tell her that he's the one who woke her up! This film could've turned this into a great moral quandary: the idea that a man, so desperate to not die alone, decides to do the seemingly unthinkable and basically end the life of another human being. (who, as it turns out, was on this voyage to be the first journalist to travel to another colony and come back, so it wasn't like she was important or anything) This plot point could've been done well. We could've seen Pratt sacrifice his soul and then spend years trying to justify and rationalize being a murderer. But no! Instead we have to get scenes of Pratt and Lawrence being charming and charismatic! With Charlie Sheen there to make everyone smile. And when the truth bomb is finally dropped? We get like 5 minutes of Lawrence hating Pratt for, you know, killing her, before the circumstances of the movie bring them back together! And they live happily ever after. NO. The way this plot point is handled sinks the entire ship, no matter how good the scenes of Pratt and Lawrence being charming and charismatic are. I'm sorry. This decision is immoral and unethical, and the film's decision to skirt around it as much as possibly torpedoes everything else.
Ok. Everyone else back now? Hi! Welcome to the continuation of my review of this crappy movie. Let me get the few bright spots in this thing out of the way real fast. First off, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. They're both charming and charismatic. You put them on a screen in any situation, and they can be as charming and charismatic as anyone can be. Did I mention that they are charming and charismatic? Also, there are some cool visuals, particularly the gravity loss sequence. Jennifer Lawrence is swimming in a pool when this happens, and the water goes everywhere. Yes, they marketed the crap out of that sequence, but it was for good reason. It was easily the best sequence in the film. Let's see what else.....uhhhhhh....Michael Sheen is funny! Sure his character is a HUGE swing and a miss, as the film passes up any and every opportunity to let Sheen providing some interesting insight into these characters and their voyage, but he's still a funny guy. And Laurence Fishburne is alright. But oh! We have to talk about revolutionizing the idea of "phoning it in." Hi, Andy Garcia! What the actual crap are you doing in this movie? Andy Garcia, known for such classics as The Godfather: Part III, The Untouchables, and Ocean's Eleven, is in this film for a total of 15 seconds. And it's in the trailer that everyone saw. That's the worst part! Ya it's 2:14 in to this video. That shot is all you get of Andy Garcia in this entire film. They paid him a boatload of money for what was likely less than an hour shoot to "look surprised," and then they put him in every trailer for the film. That's just straight-up false advertising.
Actually, that's probably the best way to describe this film: false advertising. The potential of this film is completely lost in the face of wanting to make as much money off the charm and charisma of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence as possible. While there are a few bright spots in this film, and it's two stars do everything they can to make it a pleasant viewing experience, Passengers is ultimately a forgettable and frustrating excuse for a movie. Do NOT bother seeing it. There are soooo many better films out there. Crap, crap, crap!
The Critique: False advertising and corporate greed come together to produce one of the worst films of the year, despite the noticeable efforts of its stars.
The Recommendation: A straight-up AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE. Just watch Guardians of the Galaxy again, or Silver Linings Playbook if you wanna see these wonderful stars in their native habitats.
The Verdict: 2/10 Garbage
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