Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Passengers: a great movie which received little praise from critics

Passengers is a 2016 sci-fi film directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Jon Spaihts. It’s the story of the starship Avalon as it transports 5,000 colonists and 258 crew members to their new home on Homestead II. The journey will take 120 years as the colonists and crew are safe in hibernation pods. Thirty years into the journey, the ship passes through an asteroid field, causing malfunctions throughout the ship. One passenger, Jim Preston (played by Chris Pratt), wakes up 90 years too soon. His only companion, an android bartender named Arthur (played by Michael Sheen). Jim is alone for one year until Aurora Lane (played by Jennifer Lawrence) wakes up. The two become close and eventually fall in love. Some more time passes when another person wakes up, this time it’s Chief Deck Officer Gus Mancuso (played by Laurence Fishburne). The trio realizes the ship is in serious trouble. Can they repair the ship and save the lives of the sleeping passengers and crew? Will the ship even reach its destination?

I enjoyed a lot about this movie. First, the performances by Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are great, especially Christ Pratt’s performance. For a good portion of the first act, Pratt is acting by himself. He’s the only character on screen and you feel for his character’s plight as he wrestles with questions with no easy answers and situations with life altering choices. Pratt has proved himself capable of an action movie with Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Jurassic World (2015) and in Passengers, he also shows he’s capable of drama and romance. Jennifer Lawrence has long proven herself in action, drama and romance so this movie was right of her alley. Second, the story itself is compelling. It’s been called “Titanic among the stars” (James Dyer, Empire magazine). The movie plays out like a disaster movie with a love story. And this time the lovers are likable and not as annoying as Jack and Rose. Third, the movie’s central question and dilemmas help make the story thought provoking. For those who have not seen the movie yet, there is a main question and dilemma I will not mention as it is a spoiler. However, when you see it, you will ask yourself what would you do if you were in the same situation?

I can honestly say there wasn’t much about this movie I didn’t like. There is nothing I can point out like “yeah, right that would happen!” I recognized it for what it was, a love story with a sci-fi twist. As I always do, I read a number of reviews to see if critics or other reviewers saw something I didn’t. Most of the time I spent my time shaking my head and laughing at their hatred. They harped over the same stupid details and I wondered if they even saw the movie for themselves or just copied another’s review, changed a few details and posted it as their own. Who knows? There was nothing really about this movie that stood out to me as bad, as a major flaw or even irritating. I liked it all. I laughed at some scenes. I cried and held my breath at others. Sometimes I think people have lost the meaning behind a film. It is a brief moment in time to escape reality and see a world we will never see. Now I’m not going to say that there haven’t been movies I hated. I may have even reviewed a few on here but Passengers was a great movie.

On Rotten Tomatoes, critics gave this movie a rotten rating of 31% with a consensus of “Passengers proves Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence work well together---and that even their chemistry isn’t enough to overcome a fatally flawed story.” The majority of complaints were about the science of the story. It’s a SCI-FI movie!!! Sci-fi meaning science fiction. In most sci-fi movies, the science is usually stretched a bit to add suspense and drama. While critics hated the film, audiences loved it. Many audience reviews praised the film’s beautiful space scenes, its drama and suspense, even the love story. Quite a few reviews I read online by audience members swear the professional critics were paid off to hate this film. One reviewer on said it best: “Passengers is yet another example as to why you should go see the movies professional critics hate & save your money on the ones they absolutely love.” Great advice. Some critics also dwelled on the predictable action of the story. HELLO!!! Did we all miss storytelling 101?!?! There is a general progression in storytelling. First, act 1 is the setup, the opening, the exposition. Second, act 2 is the conflict with a rising action and usually ends with a climax. Third, act 3 is the falling action and resolution. Every good story has these elements, so it would make sense you would see it everywhere!

In conclusion, if you are looking for an action-packed, Star Wars or Star Trek kind of movie, this movie isn’t it. If you are looking for a suspenseful, dramatic love story with thought provoking questions, this movie is for you. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and would watch it again and again. Critics be damned and see this movie for yourself. It is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray, I highly, highly recommend you check out Passengers