Passengers Review

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Original science fiction films were becoming a rare thing in Hollywood until recently. Unfortunately, those that were released within the past 3 years were either box office bombs or critical failures. However, 2016 gave way to a string of original sci-fi successes including 10 Cloverfield Lane, Midnight Special, and Arrival. The last of these types of films to be released this year is Morten Tyldum’s sci-fi romance film, Passengers. Does Passengers continue the string of successful original sci-fi films or does it bring an end to the streak?

Fortunately, Passengers is able to extend the streak with its fresh take on sci-fi romance films. It’s also a poignant film that will definitely question your morality should this tragic situation ever happen to you.

Passengers follows the spaceship Avalon on its 120-voyage to the distant colonial planet of Homestead II. After a malfunction to their hibernation pods, James Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) awaken to realize that they’ve woken up 90-years too early.

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Although the trailers would lead you to believe that Passengers is a sci-fi romance, there’s much more going for it. Screenwriter Jon Spaihts wrote a script that is one part science fiction, one part romance, one part mystery, and one part drama. It’s a difficult task but Spaihts is able to bring it together into one intelligent, coherent storyline. He did a truly remarkable job.

It’s even more amazing how this story is able to strike up conversations long after the credits start rolling. Passengers is able to get people to question their morals and maybe even start conversations about human nature in general. It’s something that’s attributed to Spaihts’ clever storyline.

Equally amazing is the job done by director Morten Tyldum. It’s one thing to write a multi-genre script, but it’s entirely something else when you’re trying to direct it. Tyldum balances everything together with his use of slick visuals and proper pacing to immerse you in this world. It’s an exquisite and grand world that Tyldum has created too. Highly inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey and with several callbacks to The Shining, Tyldum and production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas definitely scratched a Kubrickian itch when making Passengers.

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What makes Passengers work, though, is its stellar and charismatic cast. Chris Pratt knocks it out of the park again as James Preston as he embodies that likable guy-next-door persona to a T. However, he’s also a tragic and sympathetic character, so Pratt is able to flex those dramatic muscles as well. Not to be outdone is the similarly likable Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence once again gives another incredible performance with the spectrum of emotions she conveys during the course of the film.

The most surprising aspect of the film is how delightful Michael Sheen is as the android bartender Arthur. There isn’t much emotional range that goes into playing an android but Sheen is able to take his character and give him enough quirks to make him a fan favorite.

Overall, Passengers is a perfect storm of tremendous talent. Jon Spaihts put together an intelligent script that makes you think, laugh, cry, and talk about it long after the film credits roll. Chris Pratt once again shows how much of a charismatic actor he is and Jennifer Lawrence gives her best performance in a non-David O. Russell film. Perfectly paced, smart, and plenty of marvelous visuals to go around. It’s Titanic meets Castaway in space so be sure to bring a date.

Rating: 4.5/5 atoms
NR 4_5 Atoms - A-

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1488 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.