Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Movie Review: Passengers

I have read several reviews of this movie, just terrible reviews, of how awful this movie was. I didn't care. I tend not to always agree with movie critics, and I for one, have been looking forward to seeing this movie since the first time I saw the trailer, months ago. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are by far, two of my favorite actors, so it was a no-brainer that I had to see this movie. They could spend the 2 hours in a barrel and I'd probably love it, and this movie, well, this movie proved that.
Passengers 2016 film poster.jpg
For starters, let me tell you there will be some spoilers in this review, but I feel like I am glad I read a few spoilers before seeing it. You are tricked into thinking, from the previews, that this movie is Sci-Fi. It isn't. It's a human story told on a spaceship, and to me, there's a huge difference. If you are going, thinking this is a Sci-Fi spectacle, you will be disappointed. There are elements of Sci-Fi, but as much as Gravity was a human story told in the caverns of space, this is a romantic story told on a spaceship. Just be warned before seeing it.
Just to set this movie up, this is the story, set in a far distant future, of average mechanic Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) who is awoken from a 120 year slumber, 90 years too early. He is traveling on a ship transporting 5,000 passengers and 200+  crew to a new planet called Homestead II. The ship is transporting these people to inhabit a new planet and we find out, later, that people are paying massive amounts of money to take this journey. A journey that ensures you will never see your family or friends on Earth (Or Homestead I? It doesn't really say). You will go to sleep and wake up, 120 in the future, to start over on a new planet. Due to a mechanical failure, Jim's hiber-chamber is opened 90 years too early. After he realizes he is the only one who has awoken on this ship, he quickly determines he will forever be alone, and doomed to a lifetime aboard this ship, as by the time they reach the new planet, he will have died. He spends a whole year, plus some months, in solitude, with only the android bartender Arthur to keep him company. Day after day, night after night, he is surrounded with the cushiest surroundings one can find - an endless supply of good food and fine spirits, exercise, video games and movies, and even regular walks out in space. He quickly figures out just how lonely of an existence this is and decides to take his own life. While walking amongst the vast hiber-chambers filled with sleeping people, contemplating suicide, he comes across the chamber of Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) and is quickly taken by her beauty. After scouring the ship's files, he finds all of the information he can on her, including her interviews about why she wants to travel. He grapples with this for some time - finding solace in seeing someone else's face and hearing someone else's voice, he soon falls deeply in love with her. He speaks nightly with Arthur about the consequences of waking her up, talking about how much he loves her but knowing waking her up is a death sentence. Being a mechanic, he's tried desperately to find a way into the ship's main deck or to find a way to go back into hiber sleep, but to no avail. He does, however, figure out how to wake someone up.  One day, he decides to take the chance, waking her up but telling her it was an accident. Of course, they fall in love and develop a pretty lovely existence on this ship together. On the night of her birthday, Jim decides to ask her to marry him. While he is in the bathroom, Arthur lets it slip that the reason she is awake is because Jim woke her up, not a mechanical failure (This android is 100% innocent, he misconstrues a conversation and gives up this information on accident). She is infuriated. Now, not only are the doomed to die, they are doomed to spend the rest of their lives on a ship where she knows of his selfish choice and hates him, and with him spending every day with the guilt of knowing what he did to her. That's as far as I will go, the rest of the movie is a thrill ride and I certainly don't want to spoil it!
What I love about this movie is that it's a completely unique story. We've seen people marooned on a desert island, destined to spend the rest of their lives lonely and in solitude. We've even seen a movie about a man marooned in space and the lengths he went to, to get back to earth. What we haven't explored is the idea that you can be marooned, alone, in a ship, with thousands of people around you, whom you will never meet or talk to. What would you do? How desperate would you become for companionship? Holding the fate of someone else's life in your hands - what would you do after being alone for a long period of time?
I've heard this movie described as creepy (which is kind of is), an example of Stockholm's Syndrome, in which the captee falls in love with the captor, a sick demented example of a stalker. But I didn't find it to be any of those things. This isn't a serial killer, set out to get his prey. Jim is an average guy who finds himself in a very serious, very extraordinary situation. And then we watch Aurora, and her very real emotional response to this situation. There is real love, real hate, real emotions and real survival questions that come up and I loved every minute of it.
The CGI in this movie is nothing to turn your nose up at, either. There are some incredibly breathtaking scenes, and by breathtaking, they literally take your breath away with beauty but also with suspense. There is one scene, in particular, in which Aurora is swimming in the ship's pool, and a technical difficulty causes the ship's gravity to suspend. Aurora is caught in a bubble of water, floating around the room, unable to get to a surface for air. It's an incredible scene and one of the many suspenseful moments of the film.
I am not sure that the reason I don't feel like this film is not more creepy isn't because of Pratt. He's so charming, and his love for her is so real and true, and his guilt for what he did is so intense, that you can't help but still love him through all of this. They are both charming together - and not in an annoying way. Just truly engaging. Is there an actor on this planet who doesn't have amazing chemistry with JLaw? The woman is likeable, to the core.
I highly suggest this film, but take it as pure entertainment value and revel in the scenery and the beautiful relationship between these two highly attractive actors!!

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