A space adventure not out of this world | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 29, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 29, 2016


A space adventure not out of this world

What happened when Star-Lord found Katniss Everdeen in a ship destined to go far, far away in outer space? He couldn't “let her go” – and that's pretty much the story of Passengers.

Passengers is what the internet and other people are calling a science-fiction adventure film. Released on December 21, 2016, it is directed by Morten Tyldum – the same guy who brought you The Imitation Game a couple years ago. Since then, he has learned the art of imitation pretty well.

Now, don't get me wrong if you think I'm bad-mouthing the movie. I've been very excited since the release of the movie's trailer. However, my experience at the theatre forced me to speak out about the flick in a very duplicitous manner: I really liked it, but then I really disliked it too.

The movie takes place in a space voyage: the starship Avalon is carrying people to a far-off planet called Homestead II, to colonise it. It is a journey that will take 120 years (not light years) and our hero super-mechanic Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) has woken from his hibernation – 90 years too soon. Alone and sad, his only “friend” is a robot bartender played by Michael Sheen. 

Yes, bartender, because this spaceship has all the amenities that Hollywood can offer: gym, basketball court, restaurants serving authentic French cuisine and of course, an infinity pool looking out into the stars. I squinted a lot behind my 3D glasses but the crew was in hibernation so I got no answers to my questions.

As it happens, Jim finds a pretty writer named Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) and wants to wake her up because he's lonely. He fights himself and his compulsion but gives in eventually, duh. Now we have two lonely characters with less than a quarter of the journey complete; Aurora doesn't know it was Jim who manually woke her up from hibernation. Jim and Aurora bond over time and space, finding love and a gargantuan shopping mall of a spaceship all to themselves.

Till now, the movie was great. I loved the build-up of the characters, the raw emotions, futuristic set design and cool features, and little bouts of humour. Then came the downfall.

In five short sentences/phrases followed by a reaction, this is what happens in the second half of the movie: Aurora finds out— ouch. The spaceship needs repairs – uh-oh. Someone else wakes up to cameo – huh. Jim needs medical attention – s***. They're back together again – ugh.

That's it, folks. The movie used up so much of its energy in the first half that there was none left for the second. The director, albeit competent in creating complex storylines and characters, failed to deliver in the important moments. The movie imitates elements from Forrest Gump, Guardians of the Galaxy, Gravity, Joy, and many more. Pratt and J-Law gave equally memorable performances in the movie and throughout press campaigns across the globe; they're all over YouTube. 

Passengers was a rocket that took off well but blew to pieces right under the stratosphere. Although a lacklustre show that I'll soon forget, I'd recommend it but do exit the halls for good during the interval.

Kazi Akib Bin Asad is a Sub-editor at Shout who likes to travel and collect puns from all over the world. Follow him and his adventures on instagram.com/akibasad

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