Posted in Film reviews

Passengers (2016)

 

When I saw the trailer for this, I will admit I was excited. Then it started to crop up on my Tumblr feed… and Facebook… and Twitter. And it was not good.

So I had to see it for myself. Surely it was just one of those things that everyone wanted to slate just for the hell of it. I mean, Tumblr is not exactly Jennifer Lawrence’s friend at the moment.

But this film is a huge disappointment. I sat and watched the near 2-hour film completely and utterly lost. Not the confused kind of lost, because I could have certainly handled that, but the kind of lost where you sit and wonder how such a film could have been made.

Now, for those of you who would like to remain spoiler free, I suggest you leave now.

The trailer made this film look like it was going to be a rom-com with a twist, that twist being a near-death experience with space. It looked like it had an interesting premise and I was excited to see how two strangers managed to wake up well before anybody else as well as the circumstances leading up to the explosions and ship malfunctions the trailer promised. So I sat with eager anticipation as the trailers flew by, waiting to have this puzzle solved.

The film, pleasantly enough, begins by demonstrating the self-maintenance properties the ship holds. After a little meteor hits the ships force-field, the ship quickly repairs the damage. This would be all fine and dandy, except the ship, unable to alter its own course, is heading through a massive meteor belt which relentlessly bashes into the force-field giving it no chance to recover and ends up penetrating the ship. This leads to Jim Preston’s (Chris Pratt) pod malfunctioning and waking him from hibernation 90 years earlier than expected. On his own, Jim tries to find answers. Unable to enter the control centre, Jim eventually resigns to his solitude with only the company of the bar’s android to keep him partially sane.

A year passes. Jim finds a space suit and decides to go on a space walk because, you know, who wouldn’t? After seeing the beautiful views of space, Jim decides that he can’t take the solitude any longer and walks into the containment. He is literally seconds away from pulling the plug on his life and blissfully floating in space for the rest of eternity when he changes his mind and drunk charges back to the room with all the pods where he stumbles upon… you guessed it, Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence). He then spends a few months deliberating as to whether or not he should open her pod to relieve his own depression and also because apparently men can’t keep it in their pants.

He opens the pod by messing around with the system and Aurora wakes up confused and upset that she will never get to write her story. Thankfully he doesn’t lie to her and tell her that he just woke up, admitting that his pod malfunctioned a year ago. She’s compassionate, but unwilling to resign as he has and continues to try and reach the control centre to find out what happened. Eventually, even she loses interest and resigns herself to spending the rest of her life with Jim.

Then, on Aurora’s birthday as Jim plans to propose, the bar android lets slip that Jim deliberated opening her pod for months before doing so. Thankfully, they don’t underplay her reaction. She literally beats the shit out of him when she finds out and then proceeds to ignore his very existence. In a bid to win her attention, Jim decides to plant one of the trees he’s found (along with hundreds of other plantation destined for the new planet) on the main deck to impress her.

It’s shortly after this moment that the ship’s captain wakes up, quickly figures out why Jim’s pod malfunctioned in the first place and that he tampered with Aurora’s, before finally informing them that the ship is slowing malfunctioning all over and that they needed to figure out what happened and fix it before it killed everyone on board. After pointing them in the right direction, he promptly dies from complications of his own pod malfunctioning (how convienent).

Aurora and Jim then fix the ship up, continue to plant trees and other plants on the main deck to the point that, when the crew finally awaken from their own slumber at the end of the film, the main deck is transformed into a jungle.

That’s it.

Now here are my problems with the film. It is said that there are 5,000 people, excluding crew, on the ship travelling to the new planet. Many of them have desirable skills, or a willingness to learn these skills, that will enable them to help create a new home on the planet. Whilst it can be assumed that this was the majority on the ship, a small minority would also be those wanting a new life.

Now, what are the chances of someone waking up with the fore-knowledge and ability to fix the ship? Slim to fucking none.

Yet, that’s exactly what happens with Jim. He wakes up and quickly sets about trying to fix his pod so he can go back to sleep. It’s such a wonderful coincidence that out of all the passengers on the ship, he’s the one that does.

The second thing that irritated me was the fact that Jim had clearly visited the pod bay before, possibly on multiple occasions, before stumbling across Aurora. I say this, not because it is shown or explicitly said, but because Jim is able to recall information on other passengers just by glancing quickly at their information when playing a game of ‘Guess Who’ with Aurora. So surely he would have stumbled upon her sooner?

Not that I would have approved either way. He makes the selfish act of waking her and, whilst her initial reaction was appropriate, she also forgives him. She forgives him because she watches a video message from home where a friend begs her to open her heart. So she does… to the guy that doomed her to death in space and basically stalked her for months on end. Basically, she settled for him even though he offered to put her back to sleep and spend the rest of his life in solitude.

I can understand the premise. He made a bad call from even worse intentions, but the situation was understandable. He was lonely. Wouldn’t we all make the same call under similar situation?

Personally, no. After the initial panic had ended and I realised there was literally nothing I could do, I would have set my sights on awaking a crew member to help me fix the ship. They would have understood, given the circumstances and eventually, we would have fixed the ship before it threatened to blow up and found a way to both return to hibernation because… you know, if one pod fails then surely something big is wrong with the system.

Also, the fact that Jim kept messing with ship struck a nerve. Now, I know absolutely nothing about ships but surely messing with the wiring to plant a tree, trying to bash the door (that’s locked for a good reason) would have a knock-on effect on the ships deteriorating systems, no? Other than the Captain asking who planted the tree, there is no mention of Jim’s inability to stop messing about with the ship.

Finally, and what pissed me off the most, coming out of the cinema I realised I was sold a lie. This film was not funny. The romance was forced, at best, and eventually, you settle for the incredibly fabricated semblance of romantic feelings between the two. The thriller aspect was god awful. I was more on the edge of my seat watching Chris Pratt approach Jennifer Lawrence in the canteen after the ‘big’ reveal because he genuinely looked like he was about to murder her than I was watching them try and fix the ship at the film’s climax. And don’t get me started on the ending.

Honestly, this is probably one of the worst films I have seen this year and we have barely begun. Visually, it is perfect. Could not fault it. But the story line was terrible. At the end of the day, you can settle for a film that’s not visually perfect if the story is incredible,  but Passengers got the mixture wrong and, like the Titanic, it sunk.

 

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Author:

I'm currently working my way through a Creative and Professional Writing degree in London.

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