By Darlene Donloe
Imagine that you’ve volunteered to take a journey through space on a ship called Avalon in order to get to a new planet that you will call home. The journey takes place in a pod where you’re in a deep sleep until you reach your destination. The ship is headed to Homestead II, a pioneer colony of an overloaded Earth.
In Passengers, out in theaters nationwide, the journey takes 125 years, but, somehow a passenger has awakened 90 years too early and can’t go back to sleep. What to do? He’s all alone on a ship that is now malfunctioning. There are 5000 other people on the ship, but they are all sleep. There is Arthur, an android bartender (Michael Sheen) on the ship, but he’s not a real person with feelings. So, yes, this passenger is alone, but you’re not alone.
This is the dilemma of Jim (Chris Pratt), an engineer and then Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence), who are eventually put in the position of saving everyone on board.
But first lets talk about Jim. Jim is awakened by mistake through no fault of his own. An asteroid damaged the ship and somehow knocked it out of whack. However, as loneliness, panic and hopelessness starts to take over, Jim sets his sights on Aurora who is still sleeping peacefully in her pod. Should he awaken her and ruin her life, or should he endure being alone for the rest of his life. Before he makes his decision, he checks out everything there is to learn about Aurora on the ship’s computer. Convinced he’d like to have her as a partner, Jim does the unthinkable. Oh, the humanity.
With only the two of them on the ship as human companions, Jim and Aurora eventually fall in love. However, once Aurora learns the truth about how she was awakened, all bets are off. She is furious with Jim. You can’t get more furious. He has ruined her life and essentially “murdered” her. In a way murder is the right word. With 90 years left on their journey, it stands to reason that Aurora will be dead before the ship reaches its destination.
Surprisingly, Gus (Laurence Fishburne), an officer on the ship, is also awakened early. Luckily for Jim and Aurora he knows a lot about the ship and has some theories on how it can be fixed. The problem is Gus is sick and dying. Whatever help he can give has to be done quickly. It's an interesting twist in the story that would have brought more meat and potatoes to the film had it been played out. Fishburne’s role is brief, but effective.
This is Jim and Aurora’s story. Can these two people find love on a spaceship? Passengers is a love story wrapped in a sci-fi adventure.
Directed Morten Tyldum has fashioned an aesthetically beautiful sci-fi drama with incredible special effects. It’s an interesting story, but by the time we get to the last 40 minutes it becomes predictable.
Passengers, directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Jon Spaihts, stars Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen and Laurence Fishburne.
On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Passengers gets an L (likeable).
Passengers is RATED PG-13 (for discreet sexuality, nudity and perilous action); Running time: 1h 56m