Passengers (2016) (DVD film review).

October 27, 2017 | By | 2 Replies More

In many respects, ‘Passengers’ is a great Science Fiction film. After an accident, the starship Avalon carrying hibernating humans accidently revives Jim Preston (actor Chris Pratt) ninety years too soon. All the facilities open up but he can’t waken the crew. He does have the robot barman Arthur (actor Michael Sheen) to talk to. After despairing for a year, he picked authoress Aurora Lane (actress Jennifer Lawrence) and successfully revives her but also gets the barman to keep secret what he did so she believed she was woken accidentally as well. He slowly romances her. All it well for another year until he accidentally removes the restriction from the barman who reveals all. Aurora isn’t exactly happy and after nearly murdering him and the romance is off.

To redeem himself, Preston plants a tree and that triggers a third awakening, this time another accident reviving deck officer Gus Mancuso (actor Laurence Fishburne), a member of the crew, and he tries to sort things out. With other systems failures, it doesn’t take Mancuso long to realise what Preston did. However, Mancuso has his own problems and the autodoc confirms he’s dying. Before he does so, he gives them an access chip that might help them to find out what is going wrong.

This is a beautifully made film although having Preston turn into a bearded slob for a while does remind me of the TV series ‘Last Man On Earth’. Maybe it’s the British me but do you Americans lack control that much? I loved the display of what happens to a swimming pool’s water when the gravity goes off for a period. The starship is also a nice design and really unique.

There is a puzzle. Considering that they have to do some repairs in the engineering department and, yes, they do have replacement parts, you do have to wonder why there isn’t a back-up computer system rather than just repair the only operating one. It isn’t like this is a freight starship as the facilities are there for first and second class passengers to adjust to life before arrival. One Autodoc for 5258 people seems a bit limited as well. The hibernation freezes everything, infections included, so it is possible someone with an illness could have been shipped. Considering Gus said his code chip could access the crew, it also seems odd that they forgot or didn’t try it. I mean, one of them could have repaired their hibernation pods. It also looks like life expediency isn’t that great in the future neither and unlikely for anyone to live over a hundred years old.

If you take away the SF setting and, say, set it on castaway island, the plot would still work. Ergo, it’s a nice dressing but doesn’t open itself up for SF solutions. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t make a nice film.

Five extras on the DVD. 10 minutes of casting. 4 minutes with actor Chris Pratt taking us around the set so you can also see how much of the set was real and digital. ‘Creating The Avalon’ is a 9 minute short looking at the starship. Even more remarkable, from design to build was done in 10 weeks. Other directors, please note. 4 minutes of ‘Outtakes From The Set’ that are a combination of fluffed lines, giggles and tickles. ‘’Book Passage’ is Homestead’s promo to get people to move off-world. I wouldn’t have thought half the speed of light would have been fast enough, even with hibernation to get to a distant star. They really should have played these at the start of the film because ‘A flight to remember’ leads nicely into what happens.

I do have mixed feelings about this film but do wonder if somewhere down the line that this would also have the makings of a TV series that would show what happened in the other 85 years.

GF Willmetts

October 2017

(region 2 DVD: pub: Sony Entertainment. 1 DVD 111 minute film with extras. Price: £ (UK). ASIN: CDR 2206)

cast: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen and Laurence Fishburne

check out websites: www.sonypictures.com/ and www.sonypictures.co.uk

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Category: Films, Scifi

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Comments (2)

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  1. Sorry – I don’t agree with the reviewer. I thought the plot was very contrived and riddled with holes, and the film fell apart at the end. I also thought that the sets were so glamorous that they actually overshadowed the characters and the action. (I kept realizing that I was studying the sets rather than being focused on the action.) The actors did a good job but their performances couldn’t make up for the plot’s defects (such as having no backup computers and no alarm system to wake the crew in the event of serious emergencies).

    I think, given all the positive elements of the production, that the film could have been much better. For example, Preston could have died after saving the ship, and then the girl would have found herself in the same situation that Preston was in when he was accidentally woken. What would she have done?

    I saw the film with five other people, and they all shared my opinion about the film’s shortcomings.

    • avatar UncleGeoff says:

      Hello David
      I think you’ll find I pointed out where was the back-up computer amongst other things, including the plot could have been put on a desert island and still work.
      I could hardly be accused of not being critical.
      From the DVD version, you do get a lot more info about the film and I do find it remarkable that the sets were put together in 12 weeks from design to physical.
      Geoff

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