I wasn’t entirely sold on this movie when I first heard about it, but who can resist a pair as beautiful as Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence?
This futuristic foray into space offers up a host of ethical and moral questions wrapped in a sleek and sexy package. Passengers begins with the starship, Avalon, traveling through space towards a planet known as Homestead II, which the 5,000 passengers on board will colonize after a 120 year journey. All passengers and crew are locked in hibernation pods set to open when the ship is only months away from the planet. However, when the ship encounters a large asteroid field, it is damaged and causes several parts of the ship to malfunction, including Jim Preston’s hibernation pod.
Jim is then faced with the reality of having woken up 90 years too early, which means certain death aboard the ship before it reaches Homestead II. Pratt gave a very deep and sincere performance as Jim, moving through the stages of searching for a way to return to sleep, reveling in the luxuries aboard Avalon, drowning in loneliness and looking for a way to end it all.
Then, he finds Aurora one year later aboard Avalon.
Aurora moves through the stages of realization in her own time and begins to write a record of their time for posterity. Jim and Aurora form a close bond and fall in love. But the ship is continuing to break down from sustained damage and it is likely they won’t be able to live out their lives aboard the Avalon. The two must work together to fix the ship before it implodes.
I have always been relatively neutral about entertainment that deals with these kinds of subjects: space travel, planetary colonization and life in space. However, this film was so incredibly immersive and intriguing that I found myself fully engaged throughout the film. The visuals were magnificent and beautiful and I think that tapped into mine, and many other viewers’, love and fascination with space.
The drama of each moment is thoroughly felt I think the portrayal of the ship breaking down seemed very realistic — they didn’t simplify things or make them easier for the characters to preserve the story, which I appreciate. For example, when Jim and Aurora find the source of the problems is a fire that continues to shut down the ships operating systems, bolts and pieces of metal are zooming around them in the haze of heat, even cutting into Aurora’s arm and burning her as she works to push the blaze out into space.
The characters of Jim and Aurora are simple, there was not much focus on the development of their personalities. Although, each character develops delicately as they face new challenges with the ship and with each other. I thought Pratt and Lawrence were perfectly matched in this film, as both their silly and serious sides were able to shine through. Although there are moments that seem robotic between them, their chemistry is unavoidable, even when they are fighting.
The main focus of the film settles on the human need for companionship and how that struggles with the ethical and moral centers within us. I thought this added a fascinating new layer to what would otherwise be a simple, run-of-the-mill science fiction movie. The issues raised here give much more depth to the issues and debates surrounding space travel and colonization that, even when we are talking in the hypothetical, we must also consider. The film does a fantastic job in pointing out that when people are faced with situations that seem to good to be true, they are too trusting and too quick to jump so that they forget to analyze all of the possible issues that could arise, even those that come from our innate human nature.
In terms of the visual, the film is simply a joy to experience. If you are looking for a film that discusses humanity, ethics and morals in a futuristic society that could not be that far into the future, this is for you.
What did you think of Passengers? What did you think of their treatment of the idea of space travel and planetary colonization? How does this film question humanity and ethics issues in both a similar and new light? Let’s talk.