Sunday, December 25, 2016

Passengers - Movie Review

The Movie: Passengers

The Director: Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

The Cast: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Sheen, and Andy Garcia

The Story: A malfunctioning spacecraft heading to a colonization planet causes two people to be woken up from cryosleep 90 years too soon and they need to figure out why before disaster strikes.

The Review:
The last few years have given us a wealth of new science fiction films, including Gravity and The Martian, that push the boundaries of what is possible from the genre. Some are calling it "smart sci fi" as the movies focus more on story and character as opposed to relying on action and special effects to entertain. This movie's screenplay was written by Jon Spaihts, who has also been at least partially responsible for both Prometheus and Doctor Strange, so he is no stranger to the genre. His work on this film turned out to be a little different than I was expecting although definitely not in a bad way at all.

In a lot of ways, Passengers is an interesting mix of what Gravity and The Martian are all about with a love story thrown in which I suppose is intended to maximize on all angles of box office success. For a good portion of the movie, Pratt's character is forced to struggle with being able to survive while dealing with isolation and loneliness and then, once Lawrence arrives on the scene and the ship starts having problems, things get a lot more intense and urgent as they begin to realize why this is all happening in the first place, Spaith keeps the story balanced and engaging while Tyldum 's direction is very clean and well paced from beginning to end.

Even though there's not a ton of action, the story never feels slow or bogged down by dialog and exposition which is helped a lot by Pratt and Lawrence who are easily two of the most likable actors working today. While I would not consider either performance to be at or near the best we've seen from them, the two work very well together and you can't help but get caught up in the ups and downs of their emotional journey. Laurence Fishburne also does very will in an extremely limited role and the weight he brings to the character is prefect for what he needs to be.

The Verdict:
Passengers is a really good movie that falls just short of greatness. I enjoyed it from beginning to end but it also felt a little too familiar which, for me, took away some of the intended emotional punch. That being said, there is so much to like about this film and I would highly recommend seeing it.

I did not see the film in 3D although I'm not sure if it would be worth it as most of the movie takes place inside the space ship and revolves around the two main characters. That being said, there are some scenes that I'm sure would look stunning with the added effect but is it enough to warrant the upgrade? I'll let you decide.

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