Passengers (PG-13)

I saw Passengers last week and started to write about it but found myself confused about what I saw, and I had to sort it all out.  It isn’t that Passengers is such a terrible movie.  It is, however, a poorly conceptualized one, as the heart of the plot is so ridiculous it ruins everything; which kind of does make it terrible, actually.  There will be some “spoilers” here, because I advise no one pay to see it and I cannot explain the issues I have with the movie without revealing some things about the plot.

Starring Jennifer Lawrence (playing Aurora Lane: yes; as in Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty) and Chris Pratt (playing Jim Preston), Passengers is a mixture of Sleeping Beauty, Titanic and attempts to emulate Adam and Eve in some ridiculous way – on a spacecraft.  Erdman Penner, author of Sleeping Beauty, is even mentioned in the writing credits.

Here’s what happens:

5,259 cryogenically sustained passengers (5,000) and crew members (259) are en route to colonize a new planet on a state of the art spacecraft.  The vessel in which they travel is said to be fool-proof (like the “unsinkable” Titanic), engineered to withstand any and all space events that may occur on this 120 year journey (Sleeping Beauty), without incident.  The passengers’ pods are set to wake them up from their cryogenic slumber 4 months before the ship lands.  Well, a “space event” occurs that causes Jim’s pod to malfunction and he wakes up 90 years too early.  He has no way to go back into the cryogenic state.  He spends a year alone (or rather alone and sometimes hanging out with a rather pleasant android bartender (played by Michael Sheen as one of the bright spots of the movie)), trying to access prohibited areas of the ship in an effort to fix his busted cryogenic pod.  One day he comes across the pod containing Aurora.  He becomes like some super creepy stalker, brushes up on her profile, falls in love with her and decides he is going to tamper with her pod and wake her up so he won’t be alone.  Aurora is on the way to the colony for the greatest journalism opportunity of her life and he wakes her up.  Why? Because why should he be the only left to suffer alone on this ship where he will surely die?  Why not pick some random soul and wake them up to keep from dying alone?  From there, the movie basically falls apart at the very point where it was meant to begin.  A love affair ensues, until Aurora finds out from the android bartender that Jim purposefully “woke her up,” and they break up.  THEN, the ship that is never supposed to malfunction malfunctions and is in need of repair, so Jim and Aurora set about dramatically saving the ship, themselves and the passengers.  They get back together and they live happily ever after.  That is, until they die. Blah, blah, blah.  The End.

To top it all off, somewhere in between the break up and the attempt to rescue all these passengers on this spacecraft, Lawrence Fishburn shows up for about 10 or 12 minutes or so, as a captain or a doctor or something or other (because at this point who the hell cares anymore, really?), just for the purpose of providing Jim and Aurora with what they need to save the ship.

This movie had far too many directions, elements, moving parts, messages, and sub-stories.  Since everything but the kitchen sink seemed to be thrown in here, I couldn’t help but think as I was watching Jim and Aurora break up, he should have gone all Jack Torrence from The Shining on her.  He should have started frothing at the mouth, telling her he is never going to let her go and chased her around the ship like a crazy man, and it could have turned into a very unexpected horror movie in space!  That would have been profoundly better than what happened in the last act of this movie.  If that would have happened, it would have been awesome!  It would have been epic!  It would have made this movie make some sort of sense at least!  But of course, none of that happened.

I don’t know these six guys who wrote this story, but someone should have told them that a love story where a man wakes a stranger up so she can die with him on a deserted spacecraft is not cool or romantic, and it shouldn’t be billed as a love story.  The gesture in itself is the opposite of cool, romance and love.  It’s like telling your daughter that if a boy pulls your hair it means he likes you.  No.  It doesn’t.  It means he is an un-socialized ass who needs to be corrected.

Lawrence does some of the worst and best acting I’ve ever seen from her right here.  She and Pratt looked like they had a good time making this movie, at least.  One scene had me laughing out loud, but apparently my laugh was inappropriate as no one else found the scene funny.  Have you ever laughed out loud at a movie alone?  It just caused me to laugh even harder.  I’m silly that way.  Anyway, it was Lawrence’s most dramatic scene of the movie, and by the time it came up I realized this story just wasn’t going to work for me and it struck me as pure comedy.

There was another huge flaw with the entire premise of the movie (along with many medium and small flaws that would keep us here for a while), but I feel as though I’ve made my case. There is no need to be abusive about it.

On a positive note, the set design and effects were absolutely amazing.  Aurora’s wardrobe was mostly ethereal and lovely.  The make-up and hair were on point.  The director did what he could with what he had to work with, I suppose.  And all that talent was wasted because of one tragically flawed plot point in this script.  And it always comes back around to the fact that Jim took away Aurora’s choice and made a life altering decision, that he knew was immoral.

As a woman, it felt like watching someone marry their abuser.  It just doesn’t seem right.  A feeling that he did the right thing cannot be established.  Just because she finally forgave him doesn’t mean I had to.  And I didn’t.  And I don’t.  This does not amount to a fairy tale because rather than “saving” her, he doomed her – so, for me, it will never work.  It doesn’t even work as an “anti-fairytale,” like Me Before You, because no matter what else happens, Aurora will always know Jim as the selfish s.o.b. who woke her up, made her miss the career opportunity of a lifetime, decided what the remainder of her life would be like and where it would end.  Maybe I’m just too much of a Scorpio to get over all that and I will own that.

Passengers earned 4.5 out of 10 bloops.  Some may think it is worth seeing if you have to pay, some may think it isn’t worth seeing at all and some may think it is great.  And there goes yet another part of the problem with Passengers; it forces you to have a subjective instead of an objective experience and that is not usually the stuff great films are made of.  I think it contains elements that make it worth a watch if you don’t have to pay, but then, thinking about it further, I wouldn’t even advise anyone to waste two hours of their life watching it for free. Just one woman’s opinion.  If you chose to venture forth, good luck to you!

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1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Up Next! 20th Century Women and Silence are coming up before the week is out and I still do not know in which order.  Thank you for continuing to read!

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