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Blu-ray Review: Passengers

March 15, 2017

By John Corrado

★★ (out of 4)

Jim (Chris Pratt) is in a hibernation pod aboard a spaceship taking him on a journey to live on a new planet.  But when he mysteriously awakens ninety years too early, with no way of putting himself back to sleep and messages taking too long to reach earth, he has to confront the dire reality of his situation while protecting everyone else onboard.

Growing lonely on the ship, Jim decides to wake up Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence), a fellow passenger that he develops a crush on after stumbling over her pod.  The two fall in love, but the question remains if their doomed romance can survive the circumstances that brought them together.

Despite being nominated for two Oscars, Best Production Design and Best Original Score, Passengers just isn’t very good.  Built around a premise that becomes unintentionally creepy in the way that it essentially romanticizes stalking, the film seems front loaded with a lot of inherent problems.  The story introduces morally tricky themes, but doesn’t seem quite equipped to handle them, and it unfolds with multiple leaps of logic and countless twists that feel frustratingly convenient.

After a somewhat more interesting first act that tries to explore the effects of loneliness and solitude upon a person stranded alone in space, the film becomes a pretty typical sci-fi action flick in the last act.  Yet the entire dramatic crux of the plot is that Jim and Aurora have to accept the reality that they will die before the ship reaches its destination, and that Jim essentially exacerbated her death by choosing to wake her up early, and whether or not she can forgive him of this.

With all that said, I didn’t hate watching Passengers, and if you harbour as much affection for Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence as I do, then you might feel the same way.  They are both likeable enough performers to keep us watching, and Michael Sheen at least has some fun with his role as a droll android bartender.  But the whole thing adds up to an experience that is little more than dumb fun, with heavy emphasis on the dumb, and plot holes galore.  This is a film that I really wish was better, but at the end of the day, even two of the galaxy’s most likeable stars can’t really save this sci-fi clunker.

The Blu-ray also includes deleted scenes and an outtakes reel, as well as the production featurettes Space on Screen: The Visual Effects of Passengers, On the Set With Chris Pratt, Casting The Passengers and Creating the Avalon.  There’s also a fake ad for the Homestead Company, and a first look at the Passengers Awakening virtual reality experience.

Passengers is a Sony Pictures Home Entertainment release.  It’s 116 minutes and rated PG.

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