Passengers, Worth the Journey

Hollywood’s latest science fiction movie, Passengers, is a visually stunning story that is well worth the ticket price of the big screen. Seriously, I would consider watching this again at the IMAX and in 3D and I hate 3D movies.

A lot of factors about this movie are beautiful. The space views feature Hubble-esque complex color nebulae and a stunning slingshot view around a sun. Externally, the ship comes with graceful curving arms around a central sphere that front and back look like a flower blossom. Side on, though it forms a complex array of rotating arms that imply great space without having a lot of lumpy bits stuck on for a more mechanical look.

The Avalon. Photo from Sony Pictures

 

Internally, the Avalon is what ocean cruise ships want to grow up to be. One could easily say that it was the main character of the movie. It features fine dining in multiple languages, an array of fun activities, amazing views and a huge shopping concourse. Emigrating to a new world never looked so comfortable. However, even with beauty and luxury, a gilded cage is still a prison and the robot companions are just another set of machines. Limited to pat answers to keep the clients happy, their conversations were cliched and one-dimensional, making them believable as actual robots and not AI personalities in a tin can.

At first glance, Passengers is another Robinson Crusoe story set during an interstellar voyage. An island-bound man worries about fresh food and water. A sailor has these but also worries about his destination and the obstacles in the way. The space traveler is screwed the worst. Air, gravity, heat, and even waste management are parts of a bevy of issues he must conquer to survive, all of it with no hope of any help arriving. Passengers demonstrates this isolated feeling pretty well.

Yet at its core the movie is also a complex romance. Jennifer Lawrence, an exceptional actress, pulls off her usual excellence. Aurora is a complex, intelligent, and yet fragile heroine. You may feel sorry for her situation but you never pity her. Her evolution from fear to acceptance to rage was a compelling ride as she tries to accept her role as the lone women.

Chris Pratt by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg

Photo by Gage Skidmore, taken at the 2016 San Diego Comic-con Inernational

 

The surprise for me was Chris Pratt. Don’t get me wrong, I like Pratt but have only seen him in comedy or actions roles, none requiring the emotional performance he gave in this movie. I was delightfully surprised. His lonely descent into despair and borderline madness left me in tears. He has ratcheted up in my mind as an actor that might give some truly great performances in the future.

All in all, Passengers is one of those moves, like 2010, Star Wars, or Gravity, that makes you wish you had an 80-inch TV. Go see it in the theater; it’s well worth the trip.

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