Fish and Cherries Productions

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Reel Snippet – Passengers

Summary: The good ship Avalon was well into its 120-year journey to a new colony across the stars when a malfunction causes one passenger, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), to wake from his stasis pod 90 years too early with no way to get back in. After a year on his own, he starts losing himself in his own isolation when he finds a sleeping beauty named Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), an author taking the journey as well. After wrestling with himself for a while, he wakes her up from hibernation so he has company for the rest of his days. The two officially meet and begin to bond and fall in love. He pretends that their situations are random, but the truth can’t stay buried forever. To make things more complicated, more and more systems on the ship start failing and it’s up to the only people awake to save all 5,000 passengers aboard the Avalon.

Review: Passengers creeped me out as I watched and and you can probably see why just by reading the summary. Don’t be fooled by the trailers — they don’t just happen to be the only people to wake up and meet by chance, Jim deliberately gets her out of cryo, robbing her of any chance of a real life, and then woos her under false pretenses. This one action haunts the rest of the movie and puts all of their other actions under a very dirty microscope. Moreover, it frustrates me in two very big ways.

First off, the movie had real potential with some very good scenes and elements. The design of the Avalon both inside and out is impressive and all of the features are imaginative. In fact, a lot of the sci-fi elements are well done, like when Aurora gets trapped in the pool, when the gravity turns off or the suave robot bartender played by Michael Sheen. This and more have the makings of a really impressive work of science fiction. It’s just bad luck that they were in this movie instead.

The second is that there’s such an easy fix to remove the unfortunate implications! Instead of having Jim intentionally deactivate Aurora’s pod, have him do it accidentally, like if he was struggling with the idea and kicked the pod in frustration. A similar idea worked in Gravity Falls in one of their best episodes, so there’s no reason it couldn’t have worked here. It may not have fixed everything, but it would have felt less gross to watch the two make love or like the movie was trying to absolve Jim because he’s “trying so hard.” Sorry, movie, there’s no coming back from doing something like that.

So okay, one pivotal scene can have an impact on the rest of the movie, but does the rest of it make up for it? Not even remotely. The movie feels overwritten in some places between some verbose, rapidly-paced dialogue and real headslappers like Aurora’s cry of “If you die, I die!” Lawrence Fishburn’s role is barely worth mentioning, showing up in the middle of the movie and then promptly exiting it. The climax also devolves into a fast-paced explosion fest, something I praised Arrival for not doing. So yeah, not a lot to write home about.

If they really wanted to go this route, this movie should have been a lot darker rather than trying to make it the ultimate space romance. Instead, what we got was just a gross product that made me want to crawl out of my skin and throw up. I don’t know what either of these beloved actors saw in this. Maybe it looked better on paper or maybe there was some studio interference later on, I don’t know. Either way, I hope the money was worth it. I, on the other hand, want a refund.

Fun Tidbit: This movie has been in the making for almost a decade, stuck in development hell for all that time. Throughout that time, numerous stars were attached to the leading roles, including Keanu Reeves, Emily Blunt, and Reese Witherspoon. Speaking of famous people, the voice of the Avalon is famed voice actress Emma Clarke, one of the iconic voices who says “Mind the gap” in the London Underground.

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