All I’ve been hearing from everyone about Passengers is just how bad it is. People said it was boring, overly long, and very flawed.
So in hearing all this negative criticism, I watched Passengers with somewhat low expectations. However I came out actually enjoying it quite a bit. Call me a sucker for science fiction films, but I really enjoyed my experience watching this!
Lets look at the plot. The film centers around Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) aboard the starship Avalon on its way to a colonized planet called Homestead II. The trip takes 120 years, and it seems as though Jim has been woken up 90 years early. Also to his dismay, he is the only one of 5,000 people to wake up early. Jim must now adjust to life on this huge ship by himself as well as figure out why he woke up. Eventually a girl named Aurora Lane (played by Jennifer Lawrence ) is woken up to and has to adjust to life isolated with Jim. They begin bonding and soon start forming a close relationship.
First I will address the two major criticisms of the film, which are pretty major flaws. The first would be just how boring it is. People say that there just isn’t enough that goes on in the film to be entertaining. That the stakes are very low and not a lot happens to invest the audience.
I would slightly agree with this notion, accept for just how much I love the imagery. A lot of the science fiction scenery in the film has already been done to death, but not all. There are some scenes in Passengers where I got that imaginative sci-fi experience that you get in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey. Where you just feel the vastness of creativity and the endless possibilities in the universe. Anything from the technology on board the ship with Chris Pratt or even the A.I. bartender he bonds with felt very creative. Maybe I’m giving the film too much credit, but I thought the technology in Passengers was good.
There are also some great scenes where Chris Pratt is adjusting to living on the ship by himself. Some are funny scenes of him being a goofball. Others are very emotional because of how lonely he is living with no other human interaction.
This takes us to the second big problem with the film, Jennifer Lawrence. Not particularly her acting, I thought she did just fine in this role. The problem is more her relevance to the plot and Chris Pratt’s character. I don’t want to give too much away, but lets just say it’s a little ‘Stockholm Syndrome’-ish. Jim comes off as a little creepy and the film tries to reconcile that, except it doesn’t work well. The audience is still left feeling a little unease and weirded out by his actions and behaviors.
The climax to Passengers is actually somewhat anticlimatic. Again without giving too much away, I’ll say that I initially liked how the climax was playing out. However the film resorted to making some very cliched choices and just slowly fizzes out to the end. Leaving the audience kind of underwhelmed.
Despite these flaws I thought there was some pretty neat stuff in Passengers. The acting from our leads was not bad, and a lot of weight was resting on their shoulders (since their are only four actors in the entire film). The design of the ship and the science fiction elements are interesting. I liked some of the morally ambiguous scenes that we get multiple times throughout the film. I also really liked the idea of ‘two people stranded on an island’ kind of thing. An interesting idea that was somewhat developed in the film.
Overall I thought that Passengers was all around an okay film. It wasn’t great by any means, but it wasn’t deserving of all the hate it got by critics. I think that the film had enough going for it through its imagery and actors to give it a pass, however all criticisms of the film are very warranted. As for recommendations, I think that science fiction fans should give it a watch and form their own opinions on it.