WTH Volunteer Projectionist Matt gives us his views on last week’s film ‘Passengers’
In this film, director Morten Tyldum (known for his work in The Imitation Game (2014)) brings you a sci-fi romance that catapults 5000 Passengers and 258 crew members on the spaceship Avalon onto a 120 year journey to Homestead II, a distant colony planet. The trailers have you guessing if it is an action sci-fi with lead Chris Pratt (Jurassic Park) as Jim Preston or a steamy romance with Jennifer Lawrence (Joy) as Aurora Lane. Well the answer might be more elusive than that. With blockbuster-esque visual effects, you’d expect a thrilling storyline to go with it. What you’re given though for a large part of the movie is a story about ethical dilemmas, mainly what loneliness is and how to deal with it; two passengers are alone on a ship hurtling through space whilst the rest of the cast sleep in hibernation pods (and not because the film is so boring, although that is debatable).
So what actually is the problem with the film? A passenger wakes up 90 years too early, with the cliché “that’s impossible!” My biggest gripe with this movie is believability. We can imagine humans colonizing other planets, either out of the desire to build and create without earth-based restrictions (Jim Preston); or to explore the outer reaches of humankind’s passion for new horizons, and write it all down (Aurora Lane). But why is it impossible to restart something as crucial as a hibernation pod? Mechanical Engineer Jim Preston can’t figure out how to fix it. This leads us to the film’s main focus: loneliness, and how to deal with it. The film explores this through how Jim tries to solve the situation, to how he avoids it. Until one day he realises – why not wake someone else up? While the film tries to make it sound like “He had no choice!” He did.
Back to genre now, is it sci-fi romance? It could be seen as Horror. What is more horrifying learning you’re alone on a spaceship with a guy that wakes you up out of lust? At best it’s sexist at worst it’s passing it off as Stockholm Syndrome. Although Michael Sheen as Arthur the bartender android, tries to make light hearted commentary on their interactions, it doesn’t dispel this truth; he woke Aurora Lane up. What happens next is the ship has “some” problems, deck crew chief Laurence Fishburne as Gus Mancuso awakens to help them out with keys to the whole spaceship (thanks lucky cliché!). The ending is perhaps not what you thought or hoped for. However it leaves cliffhangers for potential sequel or prequels.
Conclusion – is it worth watching? If you’re looking for sci-fi thrills and action, it isn’t. If you’re looking for a romantic film and you buy into Hollywood’s “but I love you still”, then perhaps.
Overall: 3/5 it’s intriguing to find out what happens, and the visuals are impressive to watch. It’s the sort of film you see when nothing else takes your fancy – and that’s fine, not every film has to be a masterpiece.