I heard all kinds of negative reviews about Passengers. Honestly, I thought it was pretty good.
Now, I think this is the issue. There is something that happened in the early part of the film that is somewhat different than what the trailers indicated and that “twist” has caused the fervor over this movie.
Yes, I do not think that this movie takes advantage of the possibilities that it raised. I think this could have been a real science fiction film with an issue that could split the viewers. The problem is that the issue is not developed enough and eventually discarded completely for a more typical, big budget third act filled with set pieces and action. This film could have been as thought provoking or as brave as Arrival was earlier this year, but it decided to stick to the safe path,
Having said that, it may not be fair judging a film on what it is not or what it could have been. Passengers is an entertaining film as is, though there are flaws in it.
Because of technical difficulties on the space ship, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) awakes from his hibernation 90 years early. Jim was one of 5000 passengers on a trip off earth and on their way to a colony on another planet. Problem: it takes 120 years to arrive. So everyone spends time in a hibernation chamber that never malfunctions.
Until it did.
Jim spent a year alone aboard the ship with only an android Arthur (Michael Sheen) to talk to.
I cannot talk any more plot without spoiling the story, so I will not say any more except that Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) also awakens and the two of them start a romance as the only two conscious people on the ship. However, the ship is continuing to malfunction and they must race against time to prevent the ship from being destroyed.
The ending itself I thought was pretty weak. There are things that happen that stretch credibility so much that it hurt the overall film. I would have liked them to have gone in a different direction, but I understand the decision. The action at the end was just problematic for this film. Honestly, it felt out of place because the movie was trying to be something different than it ended as.
Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are engaging and gorgeous throughout the film and make a solid pair. Their chemistry is good, and they have some fine scenes with them together. The issue with them floats over the story too much though without sufficient result at the end.
The film looked great. There really is no excuse for bad CGI any more. In a world where we can travel dimensions with Dr. Strange and see what looks like real apes riding horse in Planet of the Apes, poor CGI is inexcusable. Passengers looks beautiful, in particular the shots of outer space.
This film certainly is better than 32% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I can only assume that the biggest issues people have is the problem at the moral center of the film. Yes, that problem is not sufficiently handled, but it is not completely ignored either. Passengers could have been considerably better than what it is, but that does not make this a bad film. My lowered expectations probably helped as I was entertained through most of the movie’s run time, but the ending did strain that entertainment some.