"Passengers" is directed by Morten Tyldum and it's about a ship that is traveling from Earth to another planet with thousands of colonists aboard that are in hibernation sleep in order to complete the 120 year journey. Two of the colonists, played by Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, are awoken 90 years early and the movie basically turns into a romance between the two of them as they bond on the traveling ship.
I'm just gonna get this out of the way and say that I hated the trailers for this movie. Not only was the trailer plastered before every movie I saw in theaters, but it's just not a well constructed trailer in general. It shows the entire movie in just a span of two-and-a-half minutes, a cardinal sin for trailers. So it's certainly not a surprise that this movie is getting mostly negative reviews from critics, though it definitely was surprising to me that this movie ended up being better than I expected. Does that make it good? Well...no, but let's go ahead and talk about it.
For starters, Pratt and Lawrence both have pretty good chemistry together. There's a problem with the fact that they're both playing the same characters they play in other movies, Pratt portraying a joking smooth-talker and Lawrence playing the slightly conceited straight-girl who's a bit of a free spirit. That being said, they still made for a decent couple, though I think that's merely because of their respective performances. This particular romance is nothing new for cinema, but more on that soon enough.
This movie also benefits from having some truly beautiful visuals. The spaceship itself doesn't come off as something that anybody in their right mind would design, but everything else looks great. The trailers showed a small portion of a zero gravity sequence and that specific scene is every bit as impressive as one would expect with a movie of this scale. As far as the visual aesthetic of this movie goes, I think that there's very little to find fault with, it all looks very good.
But in terms of story, this movie can't overcome some of the most basic romance cliches in the book. I won't spoil anything from this movie, but just look at it this way: If you watch the trailer for this movie and you see a certain scene that sticks out to you as something to where you think you can predict how said scene will play out, you'd probably be damn near flawless in predicting how it transpires. There are really no genuine surprises in this movie; it's about as basic and cliched as a romance can get nowadays.
Also, I think this movie has a good amount of wasted potential and it comes with the real reason that Aurora Lane (the name of Jennifer Lawrence's character and yes, it's every bit as stupid as it sounds) is woken up from her hibernation pod. There's a small sliver of a thriller in this movie, what with Chris Pratt's character coming off as downright creepy in some scenes, but that premise is thrown away for what I have to keep emphasizing is a by-the-book love story that you've seen a million times before. This movie shows signs of a story with some moral shades of grey in the mix, but it doesn't really amount to anything.
In the end, "Passengers" wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, so I guess that counts for something. But if truth be told, this is still a mediocre romance with a very basic story that can't be forgiven, even if this movie is a technical marvel with two solid lead performances. It's a bummer that the new release movies this Holiday week aren't very good, but there's still plenty of small indie films in theaters to help gear up for your top 10 movies of the year.