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Film Review – Passengers Published on: April 10, 2020

Passengers (2016, PG-13) 

If you are sick of being stuck at home and need an escape, look no further than the movie Passengers. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence star in this sci-fi love story set in the distant future where an overpopulated Earth has prompted people to flee to new planets. The movie takes place on the starship Avalon as it is en route – with 5,000 passengers – to the newest colony, Homestead II.  This is a 120-year journey, and so everyone has to be put into a state of suspended animation. They will sleep in hibernation pods until the ship is 4 months away from its destination.

Sounds like a relatively easy trip. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty. Despite the Homestead company’s guarantee, the hibernation pods are not completely fail-safe as two passengers soon discover. The Avalon is only 30 years into its journey when it runs into a meteor shower. The collision causes one of the pods to malfunction, jolting awake Jim Preston (Pratt) – way too early. Now, Jim finds himself trapped alone with 90 years to go before the Avalon reaches Homestead II.  He tries to occupy his time by enjoying some of the amenities that Avalon has to offer. However, even alcohol has its limits and eventually, he gives into boredom and despair. After a year of isolation, he is finally joined by another passenger Aurora Lane.  Together, Aurora (Lawrence) and Jim help each other adapt to their new reality, and as time passes, they fall in love. Of course, this is only part of the story and for Aurora and Jim, their journey is headed down a rocky path.

Even though it was not well received by many critics – some have written it off as “an interstellar Titanic”, I found that I really enjoyed Passengers. The premise is a rather intriguing one – two strangers find themselves stranded alone together on a spacecraft that is heading to a new planet. It’s a compelling love story, but it’s a sci-fi action adventure as well. The characters are relatable and you immediately empathize with their plight. This is thanks in part to both Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence who each lend a sense of earnestness, likeability, and a touch of humor to their characters. While both of their performances are genuine and heartfelt, I feel that Lawrence seems to stand out more on screen. Her portrayal of Aurora’s pain, vulnerability, and frustration is moving and at times gut-wrenching. The audience will end up sympathizing with her more than Jim by the end.

The movie is also visually appealing with its beautiful set design and amazing special effects. The futuristic design of the massive commercial starship earned Passengers an Academy Award nomination for best production design. As for the special effects, I loved watching the scenes of the Avalon gliding endlessly through space. Then there is the deep space walk scene where Jim and Aurora – secured by a tether – step outside the ship and sail through the universe. If nothing else, the stellar shots are enough to make the movie worth watching.

Overall, I highly recommend Passengers. It has a great script and it features two of Hollywood’s talented stars. Also, it has a little bit of everything – whether you have a preference for romantic movies, psychological dramas, or movies with suspenseful action sequences or stunning special effects. Most importantly, it has a message that people should take to heart: to always make the most of where you, even if it is not where you’d rather be. Whatever you may be looking for in a movie, I believe Passengers delivers.

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