Directed By: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Big blockbuster romantic movies are often intolerable in truth, they are usually filled with very predictable 'boy meets girl' storylines, very predictable plot twists, the humour is itself a joke, and generally they bore me into submission. That's not to say there hasn't been some utterly fantastic ones over the years though, films that truly deserve their place within the classics of all time. One that sticks in my mind is when Titanic first hit our shores (probably not the best phrase) and sadly there really have been some very average movies in this category since, so I should be forgiven for being slightly cautious after seeing the trailer for this movie. It looked like an intergalactic Titanic and I was a little interested. But if there is one thing more uncommon than a good romance blockbuster, it would have to be a good sci-fi romance blockbuster! Let's fill you in slightly in case you don’t know what it's about [Some plot details ahead - Editor].
Passengers features a ship called 'the Avalon' which transports people from a now overcrowded Earth, to a new planet called 'Homestead II'. 5000 passengers are on board asleep on a 120 year journey when the ship hits trouble and accidentally opens a pod 90 years early into the space flight. Jim Preston, played by Chris Pratt, is left isolated and desperate knowing there is no way back and he will in effect live out his life alone and die before ever reaching his destination. There are some relatively good moments within this part of the film as we see sprinkles of humour as Jim attempts to live life to the max while in his predicament but sadly I felt the pace was very slow for this part and it really needed a kickstart to the film. That kickstart was Jennifer Lawrence.
Desperate and alone, Jim plans to wake another passenger up and having walked past a radiant JLAW sleeping in her pod, he did what most men would probably have done in his situation, wake her up and hope to seduce her. I felt there was some sort of moral underlay going on in this bit which never truly hit home with me but I now at least know I would definitely have done the same as Jim. Certainly the addition of the gorgeous Jennifer Lawrence who plays Aurora was a welcome treat for the eyes but also her fiery, intellectual character added a bit more dimension to this somewhat bland tale.
We now get to see how she handles the same crisis, living out your days in isolation with your only companion, a total stranger. But of course romance predictably ensues and after the world's worst wingman, an android named Arthur played by Martin Sheen, reveals the true nature of why she awoke, this turns the film into something a little more interesting. A break up is usually hard enough but try that when you live on a ship and the only other person on it is the person you broke up with. And I thought Jennifer Lawrence, AGAIN, really did carry us through this part. Her heart ache was excellently portrayed, sadly in comparison I felt Chris Pratt didn't live up to the same heights and that again just made this part of the movie not as good as it could have been.
Then the movie passes in to a third phase, which is more than a little reminiscent of Titanic, as the ship begins to fail. This epic third phase came complete with a thrilling sequence when gravity fails and Jennifer Lawrence gets trapped in a suspended pool, but also some fairly poor looking space walk scenes, so despite this being a big budget movie it certainly didn't hold a flame to the likes of 'Inception'. This phase also featured perhaps the more obvious and predictable parts of the plot, and that really did, sadly, lose some marks for me. I get they billed it as a romance movie. In the end you expect the boy and girl to live happily ever after but the truly special film is where that doesn't happen. 'The one that got away' so to speak. And I do feel they missed a trick with not sticking in something a little less obvious here.
We also gained a new character, a ship captain called Gus Mancuso played by Lawrence Fishburne, which in all honesty was the only really stand out part in this phase. Gus awakes from his pod after more ship malfunctions and hopes to help fix the ship with our two lead roles, however upon awaking from a broken pod, his organs are failing and sadly his time within the movie is all too brief, which perhaps best explains this movie.
Some really good moments, sadly too few and far between. I see this as a massive wasted opportunity in truth, there was potential here and I think it ended up just a little too safe to truly stand out. Director Morten Tyldum best known for his wonderful look at Alan Turing in 'the Imitation Game' just simply did not hit the same heights and, without the wonderful Jennifer Lawrence in attendance, I fear this could have been a lot worse. In the end though, I see this as one of those movies you end up watching when you and the missus have a quiet night in, though trying to explain it's a romance movie with a spaceship in it might be more difficult than predicting this plot lads.