‘Passengers’ not “out-of-this-world”

By Nick Erickson, Staff writer

It’s not uncommon that action films intertwine themselves with romantic subplots. However, sometimes when the line is blurred, it becomes confusing and loses its train of thought, as well as the viewers’ attention. This is the case with the new sci-fi thriller “Passengers.” What could’ve been an enticing plot becomes a clustered, watered-down “Titanic” set in space.

Two of Hollywood’s most beloved and attractive stars, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, are the film’s eye-candy.  Jim Preston (Pratt) is on board an interstellar cruise ship, the Avalon, along with more than 5,000 others heading to a distant planet. Things head south when Preston wakes up from suspended animation about 30 years into the 120-year journey and cannot go back into hibernation. Alone, aside from a robotic bartender, Preston contemplates suicide. Refusing to die alone, he awakens another passenger, Aurora Lane (Lawrence). Preston lies to her about her awakening being a malfunction. One would think this is where hysterics persist, but after Lane’s panic subsides, it’s not long before mood shifts. Preston and Lane becomes lovers trapped within the confines of the spaceship.

A lot is thrown at viewers in “Passengers.”  In the midst of chaotic action and the passionate vigor, the audience is forced to process what exactly is going on. Viewers might ask themselves, “What would I do in Preston’s situation?” The back-and-forth pondering of whether waking Lane up was wrong or justified is reflected well within Pratt’s portrayal of Preston. Along with this dilemma is still the problem that Preston and Lane are doomed to die alone together on the ship unless they figure out a plan. On top of that, numerous other issues come into play (think: asteroids and gravity disappearing). It may be overwhelming to keep up with for some.

It can be argued that the main downfall of “Passengers” is the script. Pratt does a swell job of conveying a character who is both a charming lead and stressed to the brink.

However, since he is alone besides Aurora and the robot, there is only so much intriguing dialogue. Once Lane comes into play, things pick up. Yet, her character development is far less than Preston’s. We don’t learn much about her besides that she is a pride-seeking writer, and she primarily serves as Preston’s love interest. With that being said, she does complement Pratt’s character well, and the two certainly do look good together on screen.

“Passengers” is undeniably a gorgeous film from a visual standpoint. It has the polish and glamour of other noble space flicks like “Gravity” and “Interstellar.” Even the acting is on par. However, it falls short of what it could have been. Rather than telling a story of love and adventure, it becomes overly ambitious. Viewers might spend more time reflecting on their own morals rather than the explosions and sex on screen. A wonderful concept, but “Passengers” isn’t quite “out-of-this-world.”