2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

If you had the opportunity to start your life over, would you jump at the opportunity to sleep for 120 years and wake up to life on a new planet? What if that re-start included Chris Pratt or Jennifer Lawrence, would you be more likely to sign up for the voyage?

These are some of the questions to consider from the new release, Passengers.

The travellers on board the Starship Avalon are looking to begin new lives on Homestead II, a human colony on a planet in a neighbouring galaxy. These modern day pilgrims must remain in hibernated sleep for 120 years during this space journey and wait to be awakened in a new century, on a new planet and with the opportunity for a new life.

During this extensive flight, the impregnable star cruiser surprisingly malfunctions and leads to the early awakenings of Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Dunn (Jennifer Lawrence). Their premature arousal occurs 90 years prior to the rest of those on board and they must work through the options of life on the Avalon as the soul residents. While grappling with the psychological, emotional and physical challenges, they become aware of the reason behind the hibernation pods malfunction and what they must do to save themselves and the souls of their fellow colonists.

Bringing together two of the hottest names in Hollywood for this space-aged version of Titanic presents as cinematic gold. Along with these bankable stars, director Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) has been given a fresh concept to grab the attention of audiences during the holiday season. With the combination of romantic combustion, moral juxtapositions and exceptional special effects, what could go wrong? Like the meteor shower that causes the problems for the massive space vessel, the holes in the plot and script make it difficult for this ship to sail.

In the attempt to develop the psychological tension in the lives of the lead characters, the whole experience is weighed down and becomes exceptionally laborious. The beginning is reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey and this Kubrick-like manner portrays some of the moral tension with little artistry. What was meant to provide dramatic tension in the life of Jim Preston turns into a stalker-like creepiness that remains throughout most of the film. This scripting issue coupled with the failure to invest in realistic make-up for the physical changes in Pratt and Lawrence over the journey just begins to cause the story to unravel. These issues trigger a failure to maintain believability and accessibility for audiences. Even within the sci-fi genre, the script needs maintain a certain order. Jon Spaihts’ screenplay delivers the same result as his less-than-satisfying adventure, Prometheus. A slow an arduous affair that tries to make up for its inaction through absurd actions in the final few minutes. Along the way this is complicated with the unforgivable misuse of Laurence Fishburne (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) as a minuscule storyline conduit which leads to laughable situations. The primary saving grace of the film was the inclusion of Michael Sheen (Far from the Madding Crowd) as the android Arthur. He provides the humour and conscience needed to keep the story moving forward and serves as a storyline pressure valve. Yet, this performance was not enough to keep things afloat.

Passengers promises to deliver one of the few romantic options for audiences during the holiday season. Coupling together two of the biggest cinematic stars in the two divergent genres of sci-fi and romance was a brave venture, but it fails to launch. Like the problems of the Avalon, the issues can be found in the circuitry which causes this project to stall and veer way off course.

REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?

The moral conundrum seen in Passengers comes down to making the right decisions in life. Especially those choices that have a direct and long-lasting impact on other people’s lives. Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) has to wrestle with his loneliness, selfishness and the consequences of his life choices. Which begs the question: How do you make life decisions?

The Bible offers methods that involve God as the means of finding wisdom in all things. Through the study of the Bible, prayer and getting counsel from godly men and women.

Passages on getting wisdom: Proverbs 3:13-18 & 12:15, Ephesians 5:15-17, James 1:5 & 3:17


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