Review

I’m David Baruffi, and as always, I have the LAST WORD…., on ‘Passengers‘.

I can see why there’s been a lot of negative criticism against Morten Tyldem‘s latest, ‘Passengers‘, but…- there’s something here. There really is, and I’m not sure people are necessarily reading the film right. Every negative, and most positive reviews I see, seem to be focusing in on the romance aspect of the movie, as though this is some, sprawling romantic epic, colliding with an incredible-looking stylized sci-fi film. It looks like ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘ but it feels like ‘Titanic‘, or tries to kinda thing. As somebody who’s never thought ‘Titanic‘ was any good to begin with, I didn’t see the romance like that at all.

Let’s start at the beginning. In the future, a company has started colonizing a new planet and now there’s some hibernation pods taking a 120-year journey to Homestead II, to begin colonizing. We then meet Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), one of the travelers as he is awoken and quickly shown to his accommodations. It’s then, that he realizes that he was the only one, of the 5,000 passengers and crew, to be awake. He woke up, ninety years too early; there’s nobody else awake, and he can’t get back to sleep, the machine’s not fixable. About a year goes by, and suddenly, another pod is opened early, and another passenger, Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) comes out, and now, they’re both alone, and awake on the ship, for the next, almost 90 years.

Okay, um, hmmm, so, do they fall in love? Well, they don’t not, fall in love, although they first try and seek out, you know, how to fix the problem of their being awake, and in that respects I like that movie for the thinking puzzle that it is. This isn’t just, two idiots who can’t find there way out, they try and there’s some logical thought to their actions and how they try to solve the problem, and there’s actually some interesting ideas going on about what somebody(ies) would do in the situation.

So, there’s a big elephant in the room, that I can’t quite avoid, but, apparently, from what I’ve been told, there’s a twist in this movie, that, let’s say, wasn’t in the original blacklist script of “Passengers” that’s in the movie, in a different place, than it probably should be. And yes–while there’s some amazing stuff in the movie, the editing is quite questionable, in general, there’s some problems with the movie. While there’s a way to do this movie, as originally conceived, with this revelation, placed, somewhere else in the movie, that said, I kinda see what they were going for with this idea, but, yeah, when I think romance director, I don’t think Morten Tyldum, which is a problem. A bigger problem is that, when I think sci-fi psychological puzzler, I also don’t think Morten Tyldum. I don’t think he was going for the former, however.  Nor was he going for ‘Titanic‘ in space, I think he was really going for something more akin to, ‘The Blue Lagoon‘. I mean, for all-intensive purposes, this is a desert island film, except the desert island is stuck in space, and that’s not a bad idea, and exploring that concept of what one would do, if there were two attractive young people stuck in a spaceship for, seemingly forever, with no obvious ability to change, alter or improve their situation, then… yeah, I think hormones would act in somewhat nefarious ways, as would other emotions and behaviors. (And actually, considering the strange focus on gardening and planting trees on this spaceship, and not like in a secluded environment like in Douglas Trumball‘s ‘Silent Running‘ or something, like, planting trees, in the middle of this exquisite and amazing production design of a ship, I actually think my ‘The Blue Lagoon‘ comparison is more than apt.)

passengers

Still though, the ending, and the consequences of that ending; yeah I can see people reading that the wrong way, totally. ‘Passengers’ seems to want to ask us these moral quandries and then, backs out of them. There’s some great supporting work from Michael Sheen as a Shining-esque android bartender, as well as Lawrence Fishburne, who pops up near the end, like a keymaster handing us a new clue, (And there’s a bizarre cameo of Andy Garcia, that’s pointless-, I get the sense that something happened in the editing room of this movie) but yeah, the movie is well-made, but it’s clearly off. There’s some amazing sequences, especially involving the gravity on the ship going out while Aurora’s swimming in the ship’s pool for instance.- like, I think I’m gonna recommend it, as much for the stuff that’s good, but also to show others, how a movie, could be so interesting and compelling in so many areas, and then still, kinda let you down and falter at the end, into some cliched, but admittedly harrowing action ideas at the end. It’s clearly better in theory than in execution, but that might be why it’s worth studying.



About the Author

David Baruffi
David Baruffi
David Baruffi has been a successful unemployed screenwriter for, let's be vague and call it "years". He's got a B.A. in Film Studies from UNLV, is a certified script supervisor and has done a little bit of everything in film, but mostly is a writer. Personally on his own blog "David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews" which is at www.davidbaruffi.blogspot.com,and professionally has written several scripts and stories, for himself, and for others and as a ghostwriter. When he's not doing that he watches his autistic brother most days and he looks like two old puppets.