Jim Preston (Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy, The Lego Movie, Her) and Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence – X-Men: Apocalypse, Joy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) are Passengers on a spacecraft travelling to a colony on a distant planet. The ship is transporting thousands of people, and hundreds of crew, all asleep in pods. But, there is a malfunction and as a result of this unfortunate event, Jim is woken a full 90 years too early, on the 120 year voyage. And it is here that one is prompted to begin the questioning of morals, ethics and the core principles that drive us as humans.
Passengers is a thinking movie. While set on a vast, futuristic craft, the film poses questions, and challenges the viewer to think. The plot, while not too complex, is well structured. While devoid of action, there are moments of brevity that serve to break the cerebral workout. Several of which are provided courtesy of Arthur (Michael Sheen – Alice Through The Looking Glass) the ships robotic bartender.
With the action on a slightly slower pace, one can take a moment to marvel at the starship Avalon. The digital effects and cinematography in the film are awe inspiring. And with so few cast members, the film dramatic weight rests squarely on that of Pratt and Lawrence. And they deliver. As their on-screen relationship goes through the trials and turmoil brought about by current events, the push and pull of emotion would be well suited for any time or place.
Passengers is on the opposite side of the spectrum to another current space release, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Foregoing the epic space battles for a look at inner conflict. While both are strong in story, each has its own pacing, suited just for that particular story, and how it should be told. Passengers gives one a feel for the time ahead on the long, perilous journey, through the coldness of space.
The film is best viewed on a big screen, and not one of the all too many cinemas that are just unable to project anything at the correct aspect ration, unable to project an image without cutting parts of said image off, or those that are just too dark, due to an inability to maintain their projectors. Vote with your feet, and see this at a cinema where you know you will not be sorely done-by.
An intelligent look at two lives, that have a chance meeting, in a possible future. Passengers opens 30 December 2016 in South African cinemas, with pre-release screenings from 26 December.