Cinematic Releases: Stranded In Space - Passengers (2016) - Reviewed

jennifer lawrenceIn recent years, there has been a new wave of science fiction prestige films hitting the theaters. These films are designed to focus on both exploring science fiction concepts and the human condition. They are not only audience friendly, they end up usually being award friendly as well. Films like Gravity, Interstellar, The Martian, and Arrival all fit in with this descriptor and hit their own marks successfully. Despite its intentions on being apart of this wave, Passengers is starts off with a lot of potential but quickly ends up being a subpar Nicolas Sparks movie that takes place in space. 

Traveling through space to a new home on a new world, two passengers, sleeping in suspended animation, wake up 90 years too early when their ship mysteriously malfunctions.  The two passengers, played by Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, discover that there is more to both their problems and the ship’s problems than meets the eye.

Passengers as a whole is a movie that should work. You have two of the world’s hottest stars; a script written by Jon Spaihts (Doctor Strange, Prometheus) that was on the Black List, and that is directed by Morten Tyldum, who is fresh off of an Oscar nomination for The Imitation Game. With all of this talent and money (the film has an alleged budget of $120 million dollars), you would imagine that the resulting film would be at least good.   With the exception of some enjoyable visuals, Passengers is a film that is aggressively mediocre.

Chris Pratt brings his usually goofy and enjoyable screen presence to the film. We understand and even like his character at first.  We want to see his character find a way out of his predicament. We went him to find love with Jennifer Lawrence and her to find love with him. These performances at the start could make one think that this movie will be as energetic and interesting as the performers in it are. Unfortunately for me, the rest of the movie happened.

jennifer lawrence-chris pratt
Honey, don't be sad. We can always have sexy time again. 

Passengers gives off a distinct sense as a film and it is not a good one. It’s a sense that combines romanticism, voyeurism, and creepiness. This sense is unshakeable and is what makes it hard for the audience to buy into the burgeoning relationship between Pratt and Lawrence. If the audience cannot buy into or accept your love story, then what is the point? This is especially disappointing considering the chemistry and passion that was on display at the start of the movie and in its promotional materials. That passion is nowhere to be found in the film.

Instead, we are stuck with a dull romance movie in space that is not engaging or interesting. This is a movie that will end up being played on TV over and over again to an inattentive audience, which is a damn shame because it wastes the time and talents of some seriously great people. Like the characters in the film, Passengers strands Pratt, Lawrence, and the audience in the soggy leftovers of much better movies. 


-Liam S. O'Connor