'Passengers': A Visual Extravaganza
FILM: "Passengers"; Director: Morten Tyldum; Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, Emma Clarke; Rating: ***1/2
Set on a spaceship with 5,000 passengers and 258 crew members, travelling from Earth to colonize a distant new planet, "Passengers" is a romantic tale of two of its passengers, who are "lost, find each other and made life beautiful along the way".
The spaceship Avalon, a Homestead Company Starship, is a gigantic, sleek, powerful, self-repairing, auto-pilot vessel that is expected to complete its trip to Homestead II in 120 years and the people in transit are induced into suspended animation.
As many as thirty years into the voyage, as the spacecraft hurtles across the galaxy, Jim Preston, a passenger on board is accidentally awakened, 90 years too early. Guided by holographic guides, a few robots, an android bartender and confidant named Arthur (Michael Sheen) for company, he realises that he is destined to die before any of his co-passengers awaken.
How he copes with his solitude, forms the crux of the tale.
With a strong premise and a definite story structure with elements of mystery to smoothly guide the intrigue of its audience, the script written by Jon Spaihts, engages the audience on different levels be it; intellectual, ethical or science fiction thrills.
It is entertaining. Nevertheless, it is far from flawless. Shuttling between, horror and romance tropes in the right measure, the scenes seem fabricated meticulously with elements inspired from various other films which make the plot seem forced, formulaic and momentarily tedious to watch.
But what keeps you hooked is director Morten Tyldum's pristine technical care that makes the film a visual delight. The visuals are consistently engaging and the film is a CGI extravaganza, especially when the spaceship shuts down piece by piece. The result is impressive, as the director translates his visual prowess into the realm of large-scale science fiction.
But what adds to the visual delight, is the glamour and performance by its mega-watt stars. Chris Pratt as Jim Preston and Jennifer Lawrence as Aurora Lane, his co-passenger, both effortlessly charming and gorgeous, look great in and out of their clothes. And while they are pleasant to look at, their on-screen chemistry is too bland and that seems the case throughout.
Michael Sheen as Arthur, the android in a red outfit as the loyal bartender, is sort of cute and impressive. The other actors hardly have anything much to offer.
Overall, "Passengers" is a mildly generic, provocative film that has great visuals with an equally powerful sound designed by composer Thomas Newman.