‘Passengers’ falls short of expectations

By: 
J.T. Johnson
Special to The Saline Courier

In the year that saw the release of great science fiction films such as “Arrival” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” I’m afraid “Passengers” just doesn’t cut it, but it sure does try hard. The movie proves that stars Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence have undeniable chemistry, but the story then has a really hard time trying to figure itself out.

Before I go on, though, I do want to make a note about the marketing of this movie. The trailers try to suggest that both Pratt and Lawrence’s Jim Preston and Aurora Lane have mysteriously woken up early and that there is some mystery to this that must be solved. I’m here to tell you that there is no mystery and we know exactly why they woke up from the start.
The movie is trying too hard to be other types of films to be confused with a mystery on top of it all. On one level, it would appear that the filmmakers didn’t know whether to make this a lighter affair or provide more sci-fi drama. At first, it’s firmly a castaway film, then it’s a romantic comedy, then it gets real, then there’s a cliché action beat, and then it’s over.

Through it all, both Pratt and Lawrence’s charm can’t be denied and we do learn a bit about their characters, which begins to get interesting before the story rears its ugly head again. Also, they’re not quite alone despite being the only two humans awake on the ship. Michael Sheen is also here as the android bartender called Arthur.
Sheen is rather fun to watch as he tries to give our passengers some helpful advice. Somehow, Sheen is able to make Arthur somewhat human, but he never loses that synthetic edge that reminds you he’s a robot. He also works well with Pratt and Lawrence throughout the entire film.

I should not at this point say that the movie also looks gorgeous. The visual effects are simply astonishing, whether you are outside on the spaceship, walking through the halls of the mostly empty ship, or watching Lawrence try to escape from a pool with no gravity. You definitely have plenty of eye candy to look at on your journey.
Then, once again like a cancerous tumor from hell itself, that damn story returns to ruin everything. Even the ending goes on for one beat too long. By the time I left, I felt like I was cheated out of a good movie instead of the one I ultimately received.
It’s not the worst sci-fi film in existence; instead, it is rather average. And unless you just want to go to the movies this week, hold off until Netflix or Red Box on this one.

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