Passengers ****

I give this movie 4*’s out of a scale of 1-5.

The special effects and story telling are superior to many sci-fi films.

What I enjoyed most were the special effects. I love seeing and experiencing a view of future space travel.  The technology is what one sees in many films (i.e. hibernation pods, holograms, holographic video games you place with life-sized characters, food fabricators, little robots that look like Roombas cleaning up the messes on the ship, fusion engines, and of course, a robo-bartender).

I believe Asimov said something along the lines of, technology is treated as a character in his books.   All good science fiction movies do this as well. It’s what we pay to see and experience.

There was not much new in terms of technology (a la Minority Report – the pop up ads – before that started happening on our smartphones), but it was satisfying enough.

[Spoilers]

Similarly, the premise of a passenger being stuck alone on ship after his hibernation pod breaks down is not something “fantastical” but it makes for a good story. A use of the hibernation pod trope to craft a story around is a reasonable choice for a story premise.  And the story goes on from there, and it’s a human story.  The character of Jim Preston is awoken too early and faces the choice to either:  (a) live the rest of his life alone on a space ship (because it takes 120 years to reach their destination and he was only 30 years into the voyage when his pod broke, and of course he can’t fix it even though he’s a mechanic)), and (b) he can wake up his sleeping beauty, Jennifer Lawrence/Aurora Lane.  Of course, he goes with choice (b) because there would be no movie otherwise.

It’s an interesting ethical dilemma.  Would you wake someone up or live alone (a la “Stranded” in space)?  Personally, I think I’d wake up some computer savvy people who could maybe fix the problem.

But, it’s a good thing Jim’s pod did breakdown, otherwise, the ship would have burned up due to it’s engine malfunction and no one would have reached their destination.

It’s a nice story, a fun ride on the ship Avalon. I give it 4 asterisks ****.

My one critique is with the screenwriters.  Dialogue and plot and all that are decent. The backstory on Aurora Lane is very pithy, but the backstory on Jim Preston is almost non-existent. He’s a poor mechanic and that’s all we know.  There’s a glaring inequity in backstory allotment between the two characters, and come on, there are only two characters in the movie.   One is a writer, a reporter, and although she asks Jim about his past, he evades the question, and the question is never re-visited.  Why?  Again, there are only 2 characters!  The screenwriters, could have given Jim some backstory.  They put so much into Aurora’s backstory – the writer with a Hemmingway-type father, hurling herself into space desperate for a worthy story.  Interestingly, the writer’s lack of detail here and the over attention to Aurora’s story actually makes it a mishandling of Aurora’s character as well.  Aurora, the writer, the reporter, would have prodded more into Jim’s backstory.

 

 

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