There is a reason behind our unconditional love for Star Wars. At the time it came out, the term CGI wasn’t used often. Technology was primitive and films loaded with visual effects were rare. But George Lucas made the impossible possible by putting on display his rich imagination with groundbreaking visual effects. Not only did it enthrall viewers, it left an everlasting impression.
It has been exact forty years since its release and technology today has basically hit the ceiling. Every other blockbuster or indie film is laden with CGI. It is because of the feasibility only that we are able to witness an immersive experience in this $100 million film Passengers. And to one’s surprise, the budget isn’t just splurged on the CG mumbo-jumbo but the two uber charming leads which are the film’s biggest special effects.
Whoever came up with the idea of casting Jennifer Lawrence with Chris Pratt deserves applause. Because in a story that Passengers offers, it’s hard to imagine anyone else play the parts as effectively as them. Given that the film didn’t require an elaborate star cast and relies completely on its leads, it’s a job done well.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the film, overall. Sure, Passengers has a fantastic concept which must have been the reason Jennifer and Pratt said yes to the project. But the underwhelming execution mars the impact as the film stumbles by the time it reaches the climax.
The film takes place entirely on a space ship called the Avalon, which is carrying thousands of people to inhabit a planet situated far away from Earth. Everyone on the spacecraft is put into hibernation pods for the 120-year long journey across galaxies. Things go smoothly until one day the ship malfunctions, awakening two of its commuters Jim (Chris Pratt) and Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence), ninety years before they get to their destination. And with no one to accompany them, except an android bartender.
First of all, classifying the film as sci-fi is unjust. To be honest, there’s more fiction and fantasy than science to it. We have a dreamlike spaceship with every luxury one can ask for. Two gorgeous human beings of opposite sex to live a magnificent life and a robot to add humor to their proceedings. Everything sounds perfect, just as we’d expect.
Now, the film has all the fantastical elements but is devoid of any realistic touch. The pivotal element in the script — the twist in the tale shouldn’t have been revealed, it being the factor that drives the conflict of the story and decides your liking or dislike for the film. As mentioned earlier, the moral dilemma isn’t explored to its full potential. The director (Morten Tyldum) gets lost in focusing more on the romantic portions than the actual plot. But to the stars’ credit, they don’t disappoint. Even when the film begins to derail, we stay glued to the screen because of their wonderful chemistry.
There are a couple of ingenious moments where the film offers big screen spectacle. The scene where Aurora goes to swim, but the gravity failure hurls her in a ball of water into the air is amazing to behold.
Performance wise, both the actors shine with Pratt having a meatier role of the two. Martin Sheen, on the other hand as the android bartender is fun to watch but doesn’t match the level of HAL 9000, TARS or even K-2SO (Rogue One).
Thomas Newman’s background score is pleasing to hear and complements the atmosphere very well.
There are a couple of cameos as well but of no good use.
Passengers is a watchable film that won’t disappoint if you go in with the right amount of expectations. It ain’t so bad getting lost in space with two irresistible actors, after all, who cover up some of the film’s flaws, if not all.