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“Passengers” Introduces Audiences to Unique Sci-Fi Suspense Love Story

Despite controversies surrounding its premise, the film excels in empathy and humanity delivered by the two star-studded leads

January 18, 2017

Though "Passengers" has received some backlash for what some see as disturbing themes, the film does handle the subject, the characters controversial actions, and overall narrative and development in an appropriate manner. "Passengers" follows the story of two civilians on board a spaceship transporting them to a distant planetary colony, after a malfunction in the ship, one of them, James “Jim” Preston (Chris Pratt) wakes up from his “hibernation stasis” nearly a century too early.

It isn’t spoiling anything that hasn’t already been shown in the trailers, and widely talked about in the media, to say that Preston makes a difficult decision to wake up another passenger, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). A majority of moviegoers and critics alike latched onto this character’s mistake, and the consequences that followed it, and labeled it as bordering on Stockholm Syndrome, where an abducted or captured victim develops a relationship with their captor, mostly along the lines of the romantic. But this is not the case for these two condemned "Passengers".

Preston had been alone on the ship for over a year, almost losing his mind in the isolation and repetition of his life aboard the limited vessel. He first tried to get back into “hibernation” but his pod wouldn’t function, along with other multiple attempts to put himself back asleep, he accepted his fate early on, to die alone on the ship. After hanging out at the bar with the android bartender, Arthur (Michael Sheen), going to every expensive restaurant of every nationality, playing games, and exploring the outside of the ship while tethered in a spacesuit, Preston became miserable and almost suicidal at his doomed life.

When Preston makes his choice, he doesn’t make it on a whim, he contemplates, he refuses to do it, he weighs every option, and still continues to try to refuse the idea. But, knowing he is making a huge mistake and destroying this person’s future, he awakens Miss Lane.

The performances are particularly impressive by the limited cast, showing audiences a range and variety of emotions that had never truly been portrayed by the leads Pratt and Lawrence. Pratt usually plays a sarcastic, wise cracking, smart mouth as seen from his performance in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Jurassic World (2015), and the Magnificent Seven (2016). But here Pratt portrays a conflicted and desperate man with a heart of gold: when he’s happy he looks genuinely joyful, when he’s going through a range of conflicting emotions, you see it on every inch of his face, every delivery of his lines.

Though "Passengers" has received some backlash for what some see as disturbing themes, the film does handle the subject, the characters controversial actions, and overall narrative and development in an appropriate manner. "Passengers" follows the story of two civilians on board a spaceship transporting them to a distant planetary colony, after a malfunction in the ship, one of them, James “Jim” Preston (Chris Pratt) wakes up from his “hibernation stasis” nearly a century too early.

It isn’t spoiling anything that hasn’t already been shown in the trailers, and widely talked about in the media, to say that Preston makes a difficult decision to wake up another passenger, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). A majority of moviegoers and critics alike latched onto this character’s mistake, and the consequences that followed it, and labeled it as bordering on Stockholm Syndrome, where an abducted or captured victim develops a relationship with their captor, mostly along the lines of the romantic. But this is not the case for these two condemned "Passengers".

Preston had been alone on the ship for over a year, almost losing his mind in the isolation and repetition of his life aboard the limited vessel. He first tried to get back into “hibernation” but his pod wouldn’t function, along with other multiple attempts to put himself back asleep, he accepted his fate early on, to die alone on the ship. After hanging out at the bar with the android bartender, Arthur (Michael Sheen), going to every expensive restaurant of every nationality, playing games, and exploring the outside of the ship while tethered in a spacesuit, Preston became miserable and almost suicidal at his doomed life.

When Preston makes his choice, he doesn’t make it on a whim, he contemplates, he refuses to do it, he weighs every option, and still continues to try to refuse the idea. But, knowing he is making a huge mistake and destroying this person’s future, he awakens Miss Lane.

The performances are particularly impressive by the limited cast, showing audiences a range and variety of emotions that had never truly been portrayed by the leads Pratt and Lawrence. Pratt usually plays a sarcastic, wise cracking, smart mouth as seen from his performance in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Jurassic World (2015), and the Magnificent Seven (2016). But here Pratt portrays a conflicted and desperate man with a heart of gold: when he’s happy he looks genuinely joyful, when he’s going through a range of conflicting emotions, you see it on every inch of his face, every delivery of his lines.

Preston’s a human being who makes mistakes and knows he is, and he has to live with the pressing regret, and audience’s both hate and feel sorry for the character. Would anyone else make this kind of decision? In that kind of scenario, knowing they’d either go insane, die alone, or commit suicide, Preston’s choice is pretty understandable, and there’s a unique sympathy and empathy that is rarely, in film, this tough to feel towards the movie’s benefit. So Preston chooses to do what he selfishly wanted because he’s a human and makes mistakes.

Lawrence has shown some acting chops in the past, ranging from the disturbed mind of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games (2012), the sporadic and bipolar Tiffany from Silver Lining’s Playbook (2012), to her somber and stern portrayal of Mystique in X-Men First Class (2011). This time around Lawrence’s character, Lane, is a humorous, knowledgeable, and well-spoken individual. As her character develops and her feelings towards Preston swerve back and forth, Lawrence delivers a convincing range of expression and attitude that sets the tone for every scene that faithfully follows Lane’s current, and empathetic, mood.

The controversies of "Passengers" would have been understandable if it weren’t for the movie’s self-awareness of its premise, humanizing Preston’s poor decisions and Lane’s varying changes of heart; and the rich dynamic between these two characters and the film’s two leads.

The ending to "Passengers" felt a little too pleasant. To describe the feelings of the very end of the film without spoiling it: Preston’s decision of a selfish and condemning choice at the beginning of the story, should have concluded with him making a selfless and redeeming choice. The ending wasn’t bad in any way, it was actually quite heartwarming and unexpected, but an ironic hero sacrifice would have felt more appropriate. Besides that, the rest of the film is intriguing, the performances are spectacular, and the story is believable.

Preston’s a human being who makes mistakes and knows he is, and he has to live with the pressing regret, and audience’s both hate and feel sorry for the character. Would anyone else make this kind of decision? In that kind of scenario, knowing they’d either go insane, die alone, or commit suicide, Preston’s choice is pretty understandable, and there’s a unique sympathy and empathy that is rarely, in film, this tough to feel towards the movie’s benefit. So Preston chooses to do what he selfishly wanted because he’s a human and makes mistakes.

Lawrence has shown some acting chops in the past, ranging from the disturbed mind of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games (2012), the sporadic and bipolar Tiffany from Silver Lining’s Playbook (2012), to her somber and stern portrayal of Mystique in X-Men First Class (2011). This time around Lawrence’s character, Lane, is a humorous, knowledgeable, and well-spoken individual. As her character develops and her feelings towards Preston swerve back and forth, Lawrence delivers a convincing range of expression and attitude that sets the tone for every scene that faithfully follows Lane’s current, and empathetic, mood.

The controversies of "Passengers" would have been understandable if it weren’t for the movie’s self-awareness of its premise, humanizing Preston’s poor decisions and Lane’s varying changes of heart; and the rich dynamic between these two characters and the film’s two leads.

The ending to "Passengers" felt a little too pleasant. To describe the feelings of the very end of the film without spoiling it: Preston’s decision of a selfish and condemning choice at the beginning of the story, should have concluded with him making a selfless and redeeming choice. The ending wasn’t bad in any way, it was actually quite heartwarming and unexpected, but an ironic hero sacrifice would have felt more appropriate. Besides that, the rest of the film is intriguing, the performances are spectacular, and the story is believable.

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