Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne.
Director: Morten Tyldum.
The last film I watched in 2016 is the first review I put out in 2017. I didn't have any defined expectations for Passengers. What I'd heard from critics was not in the positive but defied what I'd heard from paying viewers and the rating in IMDb.
Set entirely upon the Starship Avalon, Passengers is the tale of two civilians who are awoken from hibernation almost ninety years ahead of arriving at their destination, Homestead II. Jim Preston (Pratt), a mechanic, and Aurora Lane (Lawrence), a writer, are faced with the prospect of living out their remaining years aboard the ship, never reaching their destination alive. They're alone on a ship carrying five thousand passengers and a crew, all still in hibernation with only Arthur (Sheen), a robotic barman for company. With differing reasons for waking up and no chance to rectify the situation Jim and Aurora seem to accept their fate and the relationship grows as you would expect when they're the only man and woman on board who are actually awake. Sometime further into proceedings Laurence Fishburne joins the stranded leads and that's when things start to get very hairy as the ship starts experiencing all sorts of malfunctions which put the fates of the entire crew at risk and it seems nobody will be reaching Homestead II at all.
Chris Pratt seems to be the go to guy for the Hollywood blockbuster recently. On the back of Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy he seems to be proving to be quite the favourite. It's not hard to see why, chiselled good looks and whilst he's not the best actor in the world currently he's a lot less wooden than some I could mention. He spends most of the film dealing with a decision he makes and then the rest of the film trying to right this particular wrong. He plays this well and he pairs off well with Jennifer Lawrence, they're very much a couple you could see together outside of any science fiction disaster movie. Lawrence herself puts in one of her more likeable and less irritable displays. She turns in both hot and cold personas in different passages of the film quite well. More Hustle than Apocalypse, you might say. For me, it's Michael Sheen that really puts in the most enjoyable show as the incredibly nice android barman. Even when he puts his foot, so to speak, right in it you can't help but like him. Laurence Fishburne enters the fray quite late on and offers his usual bristled veteran of the screen type fayre. The film actually credits Andy Garcia, this has to be the easiest money he's every made!
I enjoyed it, a lot. It was a film that really surprised me as to how much I liked it. aesthetically it was very nice to look at accompanied by a very science fiction appropriate score. It's bright and not as bleak as the premise would suggest. The relationship between Jim and Aurora is explored well and the final perilous sequences are well thought out and although predictable come to a satisfying conclusion. It's fair to say it's not a particularly original idea in terms of human beings seeking new life on other planets when the Earth's resources are overstretched but this only really an element created to actually put the players on board the ship.
The verdict: 3.5/5 stars - A more competent tale of romance and peril amongst the stars.