Review: “Passengers” Masters Futuristic Special Effects but Falls Short in Creating a Love Story

Unfortunately the purchase of a ticket to “Passengers” does not provide viewers with the chance to see a “Titanic Amongst the Stars” as its trailers promised. The new $110m budget movie has been bombarded with critique and has acquired only about half of what it took to make with $57.3m in the box office. While the film fails to tug at the heart strings, it does provide for an intriguing movie theatre experience, full of engaging futuristic special effects and thrilling performances by both Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.

Years in the future when technological advances have made space travel and life preserving hibernation a reality The Avalon, a spaceship occupied with 5000 sleeping passengers, is set on its 120 year course to another planet. None of the occupants are meant to awake until four months before their destination is met; however, something goes wrong in the ship and a single hibernation pod malfunctions waking Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) 90 years too early.

The rather comical beginning gives high hopes to viewers, as Jim stumbles around attempting to piece together exactly what went wrong. Like a kid left alone in a candy store he takes full advantage of the situation of being alone on the high tech vessel, complete with holographic video games, interactive basketball courts and top of the line restaurants. Jim’s only company is the robotic bartender Michael Sheen (Arthur) with a human appearance who provides humor through his lack of comprehension towards social cues.

As time progresses, about a year since he woke up, the seriousness of his situation begins to sink in. Agonizingly alone, Jim contemplates exiting the ship knowing there would be no way to survive; however, he finds the hibernation pod and descriptive video profile of a writer named Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), whom he falls in love with. His craving for social interaction proves to be too strong and he manages to wake her while making appear to be the doing of a spaceship malfunction.

This is around where the potential of the film fizzles out. The trailers and previews for the film neglect to mention that Pratt’s character is the one to awaken Aurora. It becomes increasingly difficult to appreciate the chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence when the entire premise of the film rests upon the selfish act, as he dooms her to the same bleak fate as himself. They are also legitimately the last two people alive, which perhaps with significant effort could make a good love story if the two had been brought together through a happy accident or fate, which they most definitely are not.

Originally the two lead roles were meant to be played by Keanu Reeves and Reese Witherspoon but they inevitably dropped the opportunity and the roles ended up in the hands of Pratt and Lawrence. Due to the small cast of only four, Lawrence and Pratt were in the position of needing to perform above and beyond to fill up the screen, a task they perform with ease. While the two actors were fully capable of captivating audiences with their impressive acting abilities, they had plenty of special effects to aid them.

Taking place in the future meant there were plenty of high tech futuristic gadgets, and special effects usage that caught the eye, aiding in making the film feel dynamic despite the small cast. The second half of the movie is plentiful in uniquely galactic sequences executed with brilliant special effects like when the ship’s gravity malfunctions and Aurora is trapped in water suspended midair. That being said, those prone to motion sickness when watching fast paced special effects should more than likely steer clear of the film.

Audiences who see“Passengers” in theaters will surely be taken aback by the intriguing special effects and flawless acting, which will hopefully be enough to distract from the numerous faults of its love story.

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