passengers

‘Passengers’ sci-fi film a big box office bust

Jan 24 • Arts & Leisure • 412

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TAYLOR WOLFF
staff writer

Becoming apparent with the release of “Gravity” in 2013, films set in deep space have become popular once again.
This is evident given that without fail, at least one movie a year is released that is set in space or revolves around space travel.
Holding true to this pattern, “Passengers” was delivered to audiences as 2016 was winding down.
While the release date of the film was probably due to production decisions and ultimately holiday surges at the box office, it honestly was timed perfectly to be one final low blow before the year ended.
“Passengers” seemed to be a promising galactic thriller, but with a 31 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it is clear that audiences did not receive it well.
The film centers around mechanical engineer Jim Preston, portrayed by big screen heartthrob Chris Pratt.
Jim is on a luxury spaceship, The Avalon, destined for a colony on another planet to start a new life.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the life pod keeping Jim in suspended animation malfunctions and he wakes up only 30 years into the 120-year trip.
Also onboard the spaceship is writer Aurora Lane, depicted by “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence, whom Jim discovers after he contemplates suicide.
After about a year in isolation, aside from a robotic bartender, Aurora joins Jim due to reasons and circumstances that will remain undisclosed.
It seems practically obvious that Jim and Aurora would quickly become an item given that they are the only two people awake onboard the ship.
In most sci-fi films this would likely happen, but where “Passengers” is faulted is that its trailers gave a completely inaccurate impression of the plot.
While there is a major problem that could destroy the ship and all the passengers in it, the issue that is focused on throughout the entire film is how and why Aurora’s life pod malfunctioned.
Yes, Jim and Aurora do tackle the more life-threatening problem of saving the ship, but this is only the last 20 minutes of the movie.
Without a doubt, the trailers made the film seem like there would be more focus on the drama and action of solving the problem within the ship and saving the passengers on board.
What seemed like a promising, thrilling adventure to save the ship ended up being nothing more than a romantic movie, set in space, centering around the ethics of numerous decisions the characters make.
The trailers hinted at the ethical debacle throughout the film, but it seemed like they promised more action and adventure instead of practically an hour and twenty minutes of Lawrence and Pratt falling in and out of love.
If the trailers had accurately depicted a romantic film with a tiny amount of action, the film likely would have been received somewhat better, but probably not by much.
Judging the film as solely a romantic thriller, it would still be nothing more than average.
Full of sex, a life changing twist, and deceit, “Passengers” basically was an extrapolation of a generic love story; however, this depiction would have been easier to stomach.
“Passengers” was not terrible, it was simply disappointing.
The chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence throughout the film was apparent, the technical aspects of the film were all solid, and even the writing wasn’t completely awful.
It all boils down to how the film was portrayed.
If you are looking for a sci-fi thriller, look elsewhere; however, if you are looking for another lack-luster take on a romantic thriller, “Passengers” is the film for you.

TAYLOR WOLFF
wolff006@knights.gannon.edu

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