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Passengers - Spoiler-free movie review

Nathan Strum



Titanic in space.


Okay... I was really tempted to just leave the review at that, but in all fairness, I suppose I could do a little better.

Passengers is the fourth film in the Gravity / The Martian / Interstellar trilogy. Don't ask me how the math works, it just does.

Sometime in the very distant future, Earth is a mess, and we're now colonizing other planets to mess them up too.

So... add Wall-E to that list, since that's basically where the plot came from. Some of the ship interiors were lifted right out of Wall-E too. Plus spacewalking. And cute robots.

Chris Pratt from Guardians of the Galaxy (which has nothing to do with this movie at all), plays some guy (I forget his name - but it's not Star Lord), who is one of 5000 passengers in suspended animation, taking a 120 year-long trip to another planet, because he wants to build things.

Apparently, he grew up on an Earth, learning to be a guy who builds things, in a society that no longer needs people who builds things.

Seems to me what he really needed was a better high school guidance counselor.

Anyway, because in space things happen, he wakes up. 90 years early.

Now at this point in the film, the story is pretty interesting. Pratt plays a very different character from Star Lord, which is good, because I kept thinking while watching the trailers, "So... he's going to be a wise-cracking smart-alec without a talking raccoon? What's the point?" But he isn't. He's a more toned-down, mature character, and he finds himself effectively marooned. He's too far from Earth to get help, the crew are all locked away in suspended animation, so he's stuck. Alone. And at some point, he has to make a critical decision about his situation. This is where the movie works best - as he's agonizing over this decision, while he desperately tries to stave off boredom and loneliness.

Once he makes the decision, the movie still works for short time as another character enters the story (Jennifer Lawrence), but then it basically deteriorates into a chick-flick in space. And then it becomes a disaster movie in space, because random bad stuff has to happen, or there's nothing to artificially force the plot along. (Hence this being the fourth part of the aforementioned trilogy.)

The special effects are pretty good, but you'd have to be making an indie film on a shoestring budget to not have good special effects anymore. Frankly, the whole film is kind of stupid. It seems the filmmakers tried to make the film scientifically plausible, but a lot of it just becomes silly. The lapses in logic are ridiculous. The motivations for people moving to another planet are never believable, given that they're effectively throwing their lives away. There are massive gaping plot holes throughout the movie, absurd situations abound, logic is nowhere to be seen, there's a completely unresolved and unsatisfying ending, and Jennifer Lawrence just becomes increasingly annoying as she gets her overacting "cry face" on. Ugh. This is Hollywood ham-fisted storytelling at its worst. I kept hoping there was going to be some sort of sinister plot or conspiracy behind everything that was happening (as implied by the trailers), but even that cliché was beyond the writers' abilities.

If the movie had lived up to the promise of its first third, it would have been a much better film. Certainly, the production values were high enough. And they didn't spare any expense on casting. But this is one worth skipping. Wait for it to show up on TV if you're going to watch it.

Just make sure you have something else on the DVR to flip over to.

Passengers still gets a 4.5/10.

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I'm not sure I've ever given a film a review rating of 4.5 / 10. Can't remember EVER seeing anybody else give a film that precise ranking either. Rarely do I dislike something so much that I'd give it under 5/10. Those films I usually intuitively don't go to see. But 4.5. Huh. I'll ponder about that review all night now. :)


I was hoping Passengers would be at least as good as the other sci-fi films in the 'trilogy' of films you mentioned. Seems like nobody likes it. I've read the story synopsis, and it douse sound uninteresting to me. So I just read other people's reviews of it.

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I think if I'd written this right after I had seen it (over a week ago) I would've scored it higher. Maybe a 6. I tend to be more forgiving towards films immediately after seeing them. If I start dwelling on them, then the bad things tend to be what stand out in bad films. Quite a few films that I've initially reviewed as pretty-good don't fare as well over time.


The 4.5 is because it's not good enough to be a 5, and not quite bad enough to be a 4. :) Some ratings I'll give are based on other films that I've reviewed. So if something's not quite as good as a film that's an 8, it might get a 7.5. It's splitting hairs at that point, but sometimes 10 points just isn't enough.

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That's too bad, as I was looking forward to this. I'll still see it, but will wait for it to hit iTunes for rental.

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That's no fun. It'd be more fun if you went and saw it anyway, then came back here and complained about how bad it was and that you wish you would've heeded my advice and not wasted your money on it. :)


(Otherwise, at least wait for the rental price to drop.)

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