Rating: 3.5 of 5 ★★★½☆ 

I’ve been interested in seeing Passengers since I first saw the trailer. Shiny sci-fi with a bit of romance, a bit of fun and a bit of danger. Even a mystery to unravel. Plus a chance for two endearing actors to prove themselves in a starring vehicle.

Then after hearing whispers that critics weren’t kind, I wasn’t sure. I refuse to read any reviews or judge a film on anything but the trailer until I’ve seen it myself… so I went to see it for myself with a bit of trepidation. There was one line from the trailer that ended up being a bit misleading but other than that, it did not disappoint me.

spoilery spoilers »
When he says that they woke up for a reason – or it wasn’t an accident or whatever – it sets up an expectation of some sort of purpose behind it other than a faulty part. That the ship has a conscience and chose them for some reason; that something unseen and unexpected is at play. Turns out, none of that is the case.

The writing was stronger than I expected. A couple of times I thought it would go one way and it went in a different, more interesting direction. The characters were forced into choices instead of the plot simply playing out for them, which I enjoyed. And there were refreshing loops and layers in the plot.

more spoilers »
After accusing him of murdering her, she has to choose to essentially take his life. I would have liked a bit more weight on how she handled having to face herself making the same choice he made, though in a different way. And then, after having to take his life she works so hard to save it.
It also didn’t go down the darker (more cliche) paths hinted at in the trailer, which I appreciated
and, yup, spoilers »
like having the ship turn against them and attack them instead of just breaking down.

But the plot, by it’s nature, hinges on Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. Especially Pratt. He’s like the perfect everyman – a little bit more handsome – a little bit tougher and a little bit funnier but fabulously unassuming in a way that makes it so easy to like him. What he lacks is a whopping dose of charisma. The films works with that, editing sharply around his time alone so it doesn’t get boring to watch just him. It’s not such a bad thing, Matt Damon has a thriving career and he’s stiff in every role and has about as much charisma as Pratt. I prefer Pratt to Damon, who I think I once called a great everyman.

And it becomes more dynamic as soon as Lawrence is in the picture. They’re both talented enough for the film to work but neither one has the star power you’d hope for in a movie that revolves around just them.

Still, while it’s not GREAT, it’s more than good enough. The visual effects are beautiful; there’s fun set pieces to highlight the sci-fi elements; and Pratt and Lawrence have very good chemistry and make the story grounded and practical amidst the spectacle.


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