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Chris Kavan's Movie Reviews (3241)

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Passengers (2016) 
Good Chemistry vs Bad Technology
2.5/4 stars

While the chemistry between Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence is excellent, Passengers suffers from one too many flaws that, at first glance, are easy to overlook but the more you dwell on things, the more it takes you out of the film.

The setup is pretty good - the Avalon is a colony ship on a 120-year journey to Homestead II - a lush planet perfect for starting a new life. After running into an asteroid field, several malfunctions occur, including that of one of the hibernation pods. Jim Preston finds himself the only human awake on the Avalon with just an android butler (played by Michael Sheen) to keep him company. For a whole year he tries to occupy himself - food, alcohol, games, putting his technical know-how to some use - but ultimately comes to a point where the only way out seems the final solution. But then he glances upon another pod - holding Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) and thus he decides the only way to survive is to wake up this sleeping beauty (Aurora, get it?).

The basis for any great love story is to, of course, make sure the other person can't avoid you - and you happen to be the only other living person around. Of course, this romance isn't the only thing going on - robots malfunction, as do elevators, screens, lights - and soon enough things take a turn for the worse.

As I said, Pratt and Lawrence make a fine on-screen pair. They are both in their element - Pratt playing a more down-to-Earth version of Starlord while Lawrence flits between vulnerable and full-on sexy. The relationship drives the story forward, even if the conclusion seems somewhat overwrought and way too convenient.

But, really, it's the technical aspect that starts to annoy me. As I said, if you go in casually and don't think too deeply, it's enjoyable. But, of course, my friends and I have to pinpoint every technical flaw and lack of oversight that this supposed fool-proof future-tech holds dear and the more you pick it apart, the more the film falls apart. Like, why have a ship with an android butler and virtual dance dance revolution game but you can't have decent maintenance bots to fix serious issues? The movie goes to great lengths to assure viewers there has never been a hibernation pod failure any time previously, but even so, you would think there would be a backup solution just in case something would happen to go wrong. I hate to bring science in to science fiction, but sometimes it's hard to overlook these things.

In any case, I wanted to like Passengers more than I ultimately did. It's not a bad film, per se, and if you're in it for the characters, it's a good choice but in the end, there are enough issues that just rub me the wrong way to give this more than just an adequate recommendation.


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