‘Passengers’ Review: Morton Tyldum Doesn’t Tell The Interesting Story Everyone Wants


Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt star in a ‘Titanic’ meets ‘The Shining’ in space

In space, no one can hear you scream but everyone can see cheap scripts. Morton Tyldum (The Imitation Game) picks up a famous black list script which should have stayed in its place. Add in two of the most popular actors working today mixed with a love story and what could possibly go wrong? Well, almost everything.

Aboard the Starship Avalon, 5,000 passengers are hibernating in pods. The travel is still 90 years until they arrive at a new planet, Homestead II, where the passengers are to colonize it. However, one of the pod malfunctions and opens waking up Jim (Chris Pratt) too early. He soon realizes that he is the only one awake and that there is absolutely nothing he can do to go back to hibernation.

Loneliness turns him mad, and he is left with a tough decision, does he wake up someone else ultimately committing murder. Jim quickly gets obsessed with a beautiful writer named Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence). Eventually, he decides to wake her up, and they fall in love. Jim is left with the dilemma to tell her or not that he is the one who has awoken her.

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt can’t save this self-defeating sci-fi romance

Wrestling with interesting and dark moral questions, Passengers fails to explore any of the issues it conjures up. It starts off as a story about a lonely man turning mad in a Shining kind of way. It brings up fascinating questions about loneliness and humans’ need to interaction. As Jim becomes a little too lonely, the film never seems to answer these issues. Instead, it turns its ship around, and it ultimately becomes a mediocre Titanic love story in space.

Not without potential, the movie’s own script does not call for a love story. Aurora being awoken by Jim is in itself an act of murder. The script builds Pratt’s character has a selfish man in need of someone. The love story doesn’t quite fit, and it seems rather force. Passenger ignores a more interesting story for a cheap love story. How better would have been Passengers if Pratt was a Jack Torrance type character?

The set designs around the characters are magnificent, and the CG is phenomenal. Passengers explore its surrounding in great details. From the pool to floating in space, the movie nails its aesthetic. Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Wolf Of Wall Street) creates beautiful wide shots. The futuristic style of the Avalon from his sleek design to its beautiful interior gives the movie both a sense of realism and otherworldly.

Ultimately, Passengers‘ script has built such a strong wall that the rest of the film is constantly trying to take it down. Beautiful futuristic surroundings can’t overcome it either. They take the long boring route instead of the easier thrilling one. For a movie to have so many Shining references, it’s surprising that Tyldum never thought to tell that story instead.


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