Passengers is a futuristic sci-fi film featuring a hot, scantily clad and intelligent girl, a buff yet down to earth guy-next-door, and a shiny spaceship hurling around stars – perfect for mindless entertainment. Unfortunately, in attempting to try these promising elements together, the film has employed stale and archaic archetypes, which leave the audience scoffing and bored. Part science fiction, part romantic comedy and part action movie, Passengers, in trying to do so much, sadly fails to do anything.
“As if the exhausted romance wasn’t bad enough, the absurd and callous insertion of action where it doesn’t belong distracts from what’s left of the film”
The science fiction genre has enjoyed a resurgence in critical acclaim in recent years with films such as The Martian, Gravity, Arrival and, now, Passengers struggling to follow suit. These new films explore the idea of space in a brilliant new way, moving away from the grand space opera settings of the 70s and 80s for stories where grandeur is secondary to human struggle. Passengers had so much potential and so many interesting questions to ask. Why would these characters leave home to pursue an unknown life? How does one deal with total solitude and imminent death in a restricted place? Can two people who are trapped together form a genuine bond or simply one of necessity? Unfortunately, after half an hour, the audience realises that the film is ignoring every question that makes it interesting. The alienation isn't effectively conveyed, only glossed over.
The humans-lost-in-space theme is regrettably relegated to the background, as the movie is steered towards trivial romantic comedy. Boy meets girl, girl has better things to do, boy impresses her with home-made robots, boy and girl go on dates, boy makes mistake, girl gets upset – asleep yet? I am. How many times must an audience be subjected to the same plot before writers stop beating this same dead horse? When a storyline this worn has been unconsciously memorised by all movie goers it no longer elicits any emotion or interest – the movie soon turns into a game of “count the clichés”. When James Cameron used a similar bore of a story in Avatar, the visuals were spectacular enough to render the film interesting. Passengers – 7 years later – uses an even more clichéd plot, but with visuals that aren’t nearly as gripping.
As if the exhausted romance wasn’t bad enough, the absurd and callous insertion of action where it doesn’t belong distracts from what’s left of the film. The audience’s feelings and expectations are constantly pulled from one direction to another. When expected to feel everything all at once, the only thing that translates is dullness.
With no consistent theme to grab onto, Passengers fails to grab our attention at all. By disregarding all the interesting questions, Passengers takes us on a journey of outdated movie romance via a detour through stock-action sequences and glossy sci-fi – ultimately failing to capture our interest
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