January 8, 2016
There are 5000 people from planet Earth hibernating on board the spaceship called the Avalon. They are going to wake up in 120 years on another planet, a utopia colony called Homestead II. Thirty years in its journey, the Avalon collides with a comet in its path. The damage causes a system malfunction causing one unfortunate passenger, engineer Jim Preston, to wake up 90 years ahead of schedule. A year later, by circumstances of a different nature, a writer Aurora Lane also wakes up.
Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are proven lead actors who have massive box-office hits under their respective belts. There is no doubt about their charisma as movie stars. Here in "Passengers," they have the unenviable task of carrying the whole movie practically all by themselves as they are the only people awake on board a spaceship headed for doom. We have seen this space castaway scenario very recently in films like "Gravity" and "The Martian" so this is not really a film concept anymore.
What made "Passengers" unique was the remarkable production design of a futuristically-designed spacecraft which floats through space like a intergalactic self-contained cruise ship with all the luxury comforts on board, all at a push of a button. The hologram hostesses were mouthing pre-recorded lines but were also seemingly capable of answering questions when asked. The congenial android bartender Arthur (played by Michael Sheen) would seem to be a good adviser and listener, and a source of gossip.
As in previous sci-fi films, there will be physics majors who may be watching out for scientific accuracy. While I am not that nitpicky about the science, the scene which made me think is when the ship lost gravity and the whole swimming pool contents floated out as one big blob of water with the person swimming trapped inside unable to break through to the surface and breathe. I have no idea if that is actually what happens or not, but anyhow that scene looked fantastic!
The film as whole had a languid pace and a lot of talking. It may feel too slow and dragging at certain points. The final act was exciting to watch, even though it can be predictable and annoyingly too conveniently good to be true. The ethical dilemmas encountered by the characters were excruciating to contemplate upon. Frankly, it is just the good will and charm of the two lead stars that keep the audience interest going until the end. 7/10.