Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Passengers review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** out of 4
Jennifer Lawrence (left) and Chris Pratt (right) in Passengers

            Funny, I watched two of my favorite actors together in a really great movie with good chemistry, and I follow it up with two more of my favorite actors together with good chemistry in a bad movie. That’s Passengers for you, the new sci-fi film directed by Academy Award® nominated, Morten Tyldum (Buddy, Headhunters, The Imitation Game), produced by Neal H. Moritz (Fast & Furious franchise, I Am Legend, 21 Jump Street) and starring two pop-culture angels, Jennifer Lawrence (X-Men franchise, The Hunger Games franchise, American Hustle) and Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation, Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World).
            The film looked very promising by its trailers and it’s got two of my favorite actors together, I was very intrigued by the film and Lawrence was hot off the X-Men and Hunger Games franchise, while Pratt previously starred in The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Jurassic World. How could I go wrong? Well…Pratt and Lawrence work well together in the film, but then you realize the movie is focused more on rehashing concepts from other science-fiction movies, unnecessary plot devices, and dated movie clichés rather than effective storytelling.
            Where did this movie go wrong? You got two of the most popular actors of the 2010s, an Academy Award® nominated director, and one of the screenplay writers of Doctor Strange, and it all turns out to be one big disappointment. It isn’t the worst film Chris Pratt starred in, that dishonor goes to the 2013 trainwreck, Movie 43, but this came out after he gained huge momentum from Guardians of the Galaxy.
            The film is set on the Starship Avalon, on a 120-year journey to a new planet, and carrying over 5000 people in hibernation pods. A malfunction on the ship causes mechanical engineer, Jim Preston (Pratt) and writer, Aurora Lane (Lawrence) to wake up 90 years early.
            At first everything seems nice, Jim and Aurora seem to hit it off, have drinks at the ship’s bar with an android bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen-The Queen, Frost/Nixon, Tron: Legacy), and eventually fall in love. But then they are forced to discover the mystery behind why they woke up early in the first place as the ship teeters on the brink of collapse with the lives of thousands in jeopardy.
            Overall, Passengers has an interesting concept on paper but the execution is really off and relies on rehashing sci-fi movie concepts and these lousy movie clichés that we have seen a million times before. It’s like binge-watching 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Moon, Gravity, and The Martian all at the same time, and taking out most of the good stuff.
            Even if you didn’t have those sci-fi movie rehashes, it wouldn’t make up these terrible movie clichés, from the Misunderstanding, which you can figure this one out right away after something Chris Pratt’s character does, to bringing Laurence Fishburne (What’s Love Got to Do With It, The Matrix trilogy, DC Extended Universe) in as a ship chief, only to give us one of the most notoriously unoriginal sci-fi and horror movie clichés, before we even get a chance to get attached to his character.
            Despite the bad execution, the film does have a few positive things to talk about, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence’s on-screen chemistry (and hopefully this won’t be their last film together), some humorous moments that get a giggle, impressive visuals, and an awesome music score. I could at least appreciate those aspects of the film, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
If the movie had a better script and cut out the tiring clichés and gave more original storytelling, this could have been a great film. But as is, it’s a real letdown and definitely not the sci-fi adventure I would recommend seeing after Rogue One.

My advice, rent the movie, watch the parts with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence interacting on the ship, and skip everything else. Sorry Pratt, better luck in May with Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, and you Moritz, don’t disappoint me with your Sonic the Hedgehog movie.

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