Review – Passengers (2016)

passengers-5856dfe2ae027

passengers-5839f15b4f3b0There isn’t a lot of 2016 films that I regret not seeing in the actual year other than Passengers. The first time I saw the trailer for this film, I knew I wanted to see it. It wasn’t really the science fiction, although that did look impressive, it was the basic concept of waking up alone, earlier than anyone else, and the potential found there. Of course, I was worried about the poor critiques the film has found, but I hoped that those critics were wrong, and it was as good as it looked. So really, how was it? Let’s get into it.

The spaceship, Starship Avalon, in its 120-year voyage to a distant colony planet known as the “Homestead Colony” and transporting 5,258 people has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result one hibernation pod opens prematurely and the one person that awakes, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is stranded on the spaceship, still 90 years from his destination. Written by Eirini (IMDb)

PEOPLE
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

 

This category is all about the people in the film. This covers their acting ability, if the characters themselves are any good, if they work well together as a team, if they are deeper or flatter as characters, and if the casting director even did their job right. These are all very important issues to consider while reviewing film.
  1.  Acting: ★★
    • First up, we have the inevitable category of acting ability. I want to point out that this film focuses primarily on two very well-known actors – Chris Pratt, and Jennifer Lawrence. If anyone argues that they aren’t great actors, I’ll swiftly point them in a direction to witness their history in film. Their ability to act was not deterred by the extreme isolation they share in Passengers. In fact, if anything, it further defines their identities and abilities as actors. There was no drowning out, here. Their acting ability is never in question. Two stars.
  2. Characters: ★☆
    • Next up is characters. Now, characters are questionable when it comes to Passengers. It’s not to say they are bad characters… because they’re not, but it’s that they are rather average when you break them down. Chris Pratt’s character, Jim, had quite a bit more potential than he really gave off. The fact that he was an engineer/mechanic was spoken about, but there wasn’t anything that gave off the impression that he was a super engineer over a run-of-the-mill one. If you read the book, Wool, soon to be a science-fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, you’ll see that this book trilogy had a very impressive and smart engineer – which the book focused on just enough to make her character memorable for her abilities. That’s not really what you see here.
    • Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Aurora had a pretty neat name, but other than that, her character wasn’t super impressive when you broke her down either. It was extremely important and integral to the story, absolutely, but that’s a plot device, not a character. As far as characters go in this movie, they’re mostly forgettable as characters. They’re simply there to further the neat-looking story and visuals. One star.
  3. Good Casting: ★☆
    • Likewise with the casting, if you don’t have great characters, it could potentially be due to the casting. Now, I like the actors in this movie, I love that they are in it, but when I think about the characters of Jim and Aurora, do I think only Chris Pratt and only Jennifer Lawrence could have fit in those roles? Not really. In fact, there are a number of other actors and actresses that would have kept the integrity of the story/visuals/theme intact but would have fit the roles in more of a way that would be considered memorable. One star.
  4.  Good Importance: ★☆
    • I would give this two stars, but when you have a movie that’s more mystery-themed than anything else, you have a film about discovery. The importance of the characters aren’t specifically focused on all that much. Jennifer Lawrence’s story is certainly important, and the main force that drives Chris Pratt to do basically everything he ever does in the film. So, his roles of “importance” are exclusively linked to her character. That almost makes it sound like his character is a pawn, which is naturally something that doesn’t sound too great. One star.
  5.  Good chemistry: ★★
    • Next is chemistry. This is a category people may argue about, because everyone has a different instinctual bias on what chemistry means in a film. If they make you tear up, they clearly have chemistry, but that’s not the only thing that defines chemistry. Chemistry is when the two leads work together believably and if there are any characters in the film, as there naturally is, how they work with the leads, how the leads work with them, how they work together – that whole network of possibilities. For such a small-casted film, it’s really not that hard to understand that yes, the movie had a good level of chemistry in it.

WRITING
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

 

This category obviously covers the writing aspect of the critique. First, you want to know a little bit about the script. Specifically, how is the dialogue? Are they saying anything memorable or inspirational…or was it just bland conversation to keep the story going? How was the story itself? Was it well-balanced or over-convoluted? Was it original? Was it even interesting? Once again, all very important questions
  1.  Dialogue: ★☆
    • Whenever you have a movie centered on isolation, it has to do one very important thing with dialogue – either very little at all (Cast Away) or some absolutely fascinating and memorable dialogue, like maybe in I am Legend. The dialogue, or the lack thereof, is usually pretty good in films with this theme. However, the dialogue in Passengers is merely okay. It’s the same basic type of dialogue you expect to find in many other typical run-of-the-mill movies where the dialogue isn’t actually a big concern. One star.
  2.  Good Balance: ★★
    • Next up is the balance, and Passengers,  through both the good and the bad, did have a balanced story. It’s about a guy accidentally waking up on a spaceship too early, the isolation and the desperation that occurs. Plus, there’s a certain level of mystery behind why this is all happening in the first place, and through all that…it’s dealt with well, so I’d consider the balance to be, well, balanced.
  3.  Good Story: ★★
    • The story was primarily what got me interested in watching it in the first place, it just looked interesting…and fun. While watching, I’ll say I more or less got exactly what I wanted…a cool story.
  4.  Original: ☆☆
    • Originality, on the other hand, isn’t Passengers’ strong suit. This was Titanic in space, right down to the oversized door, sort of not really. It was Titanic in ways I won’t go into, it was The Shining when it came to the bar scenes. As for waking up in space in the cryogenic pods too early, well…we’ll look to RocketMan for that. So, it’s not original, but that just docks it in one small spot in the entirety of it all. Let’s move on.
  5.  Interesting: ★★
    • This kind of ties into the story bit, the concept itself is the interesting part, and then it builds from there with mystery and a continuance of more surprising elements that sometimes show up. I was interested from beginning to end, which certainly earns it two full stars.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES
★★★★★★★★★☆

 

Never forget that there are hard-working individuals working on this film day in and day out. It’s a great story, yes, but people helped make that possible. People like the directors, who have to take written word on a script, and somehow translate that for the big screen in a way an audience would understand. Editors, who are given a ton of material and expected to further make that idea and image the director has already – into a reality, like the director of photography, whose job is to make this movie look amazing…whether that means natural settings and landscapes, CGI, 3D, technical effects, or otherwise. The production crew, who are in charge of making advertisements that aren’t false, and don’t give too much away. Finally, the sound crew, who are in charge of everything the audio has – sound effects, sound editing, music, you name it. These are all puzzle pieces.
  1. Visuals: ★★
    • Even the biggest haters of this movie can’t say the visuals were bad because, in a lot of ways, they were actually quite astonishing. The graphics were really good, and the camerawork with everything was sometimes a mesmerizing feat. For that, I have to give it two full stars.
  2.  Directing: ★★
    • It often goes hand-in-hand, visuals & directing, because a director has to use his inner creative mind to picture a CGI world while filming when in reality, that CGI world won’t exist for a while. The directly only has a script to go off of, and sometimes, you can tell when there’s great CGI that’s botched up by the direction the director decided to go. In this case, Passengers had a pretty good use of CGI elements that felt natural and tangible. Two stars here.
  3.  Editing: ★★
    • Editing was smooth and stitched together in a satisfactory way. Two stars here as well.
  4.  Advertisement: ★★
    • As advertised, no disappointments here. As I said before, it was specifically the ads that had me invested from the get-go. Now, it’s important to also note that the movie didn’t go exactly as I imagined, but it wasn’t in such a way that made me think the advertisement was false or lying. Two stars again.
  5.  Music: ★☆
    • Surprisingly, most of the music was typical, nothing that stood out as great or terrible. It fit in really well, and there were some otherwise decent compositions, but it could have easily been a lot better. Only one star here.

NARRATIVE ARC
★★★★★★★★★☆

 

Have you ever been left wondering what it was about a film that felt…off, but you couldn’t place what it was? Well, a lot of people actually aren’t educated on the traditional narrative arc structure – which is seen in almost every movie or book story. With a missing piece, you might not understand what feels missing.
  1.  Introduction: ★★
    • The introduction to Passengers introduced us to the characters of Jim and the bartender, for the most part, unless you count the spaceship itself as a character. Then you get the general idea that he’s probably never going to get to his destination because that’s 90 years in the future at that point.
  2.  Inciting Incident/Crossing the Threshold: ★★
    • Both the inciting incident and crossing the threshold were in there, but I can’t really tell you what they are because that’s actually (surprisingly) a spoiler. I’ll give you a hint, though, this moment has to do with Jennifer Lawrence’s character. Two stars.
  3.  Obstacles: ★☆
    • Now, while there are obstacles, they aren’t focused on too much. The main obstacle is obviously being stuck together on a ship with nothing to do, so they have to make lemonade with their lemons. The rest of the obstacles are more subtle and internal than anything, really. So they weren’t focused on hard enough to be considered major. One star.
  4.  Epiphany/Climax: ★★
    • The epiphany is basically figuring out what’s been going on this whole time, and the climax is whatever these characters decide to do once they find out. They are both in there, and they are both solid. Two stars.
  5.  Falling Action: ★★
    • The falling action was indeed in this film, but I’m not going to spoil you any further. Two stars.

OVERALL ENTERTAINMENT
★★★★★★★★☆☆

 

Here’s something most critics overlook, because they’re always so keyed in on critiquing the technical elements of a film. Well, that may be statistically accurate, but the numbers that are released aren’t always reflective of what we enjoyed about it…which is when we say the movie was under-appreciated or whatever. This category focuses on pure entertainment.
  1.  Rewatchability: ★★
    • I would definitely consider this a movie to rewatch again, and because I would consider it a movie that I would knowingly seek out to watch again, that deserves two stars.
  2.  Fun: ★★
    • Yeah, it’s fun. The trailers are fun, the concept is fun, the actors sometimes make it fun, the unpredictable surprises make it fun…there’s a lot more fun in this film than vice vera. Two stars again.
  3.  Impulse to buy it: ★☆
    • Would I want to buy it, though? Good question. I would say if I found maybe a version on sale somewhere, or maybe just the digital copy for cheap – but I don’t see myself buying it at full price. One star here.
  4.  Impulse to talk to someone about it: ★☆
    • Yeah, I think I would have a certain impulse to talk about it, there are things to discuss. I wouldn’t be craving a discussion, it would just be nice to have some time. One star.
  5.  Sucks the audience in: ★★
    • Yes, for me at least. As soon as it began and Chris Pratt’s character woke up in his chamber, I was pretty much hooked from there on out. Two stars here.

passengers-5817178182e62

SPECIALTY QUESTIONS

 

These are special questions written by you before seeing the movie, based on expectations, questions, stereotypes, you name it. If it’s a Tom Cruise movie, have Cruise-isms, if it’s a horror film, ask how scary it is, if it’s a sequel, ask if it fits in with the universe or if it was even needed to begin with, you catch the drift.

SCIENCE FICTION?
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #1

 

The first specialty question is a pretty obvious one. It’s a genre-specific question regarding science fiction and all that entails. Passengers is sci-fi through-and-through. They have space, the futuristic technology, the robots, the everything. Plus, even though it does feel like they borrow a few things from other projects, I can’t really say I’ve seen a science fiction movie specifically…that’s like this. The closest you get is probably RocketMan when Harland Williams wakes up on the spaceship early and eats all the spacemen’s food.

MYSTERY
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

SPECIALTY QUESTION #2

 

One of the instincts I got while watching not only the trailer, but most of the movie, is this sense of mystery. Why did this machinery break down? Why did it happen more than once? Throughout the movie, you start hearing the same old Titanic tale – it is impossible for the machines to malfunction, simply impossible. So in my thinking-too-deep head, I had to ask myself, well what if it wasn’t an accident? What if it was planned? What if they are all dreaming in the cryogenic tubes? Why!? I was probably over-thinking it all because the mystery that it sort of creates for itself…isn’t satisfying

ROMANCE
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #3

 

In my opinion, this next specialty category should be an obvious one. Not only do the trailers sort of give that thought away, but in another sense…they are the last two people they’ll ever know in person ever again…you ask me, that’s a romance story waiting to happen. It’s no Nicholas Sparks story, but I think they worked pretty well together and I believed the romance in the film well enough to never question it.

SURPRISES
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

SPECIALTY QUESTION #4

 

Here’s a specialty category I once again figured would be happening all over the place, unpredictable surprises! That’s just the feeling it gave me. I still felt it early one when there was a surprise when it came to the inciting incident. So, yeah, like I said before, there are actually some decent surprises here and there, but because of it’s slight problem with originality, it also started to become predictable in way too many spots. Because of these two very different elements, I had to give this five stars only.

HALFWAY DECENT
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #5

 

The final specialty question has to deal with the question on if this is halfway decent or not. Of course it is. NEXT!

RATING: 80/100

Advertisements

One thought on “Review – Passengers (2016)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s