Film Reviews, Passengers
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PASSENGERS Review: “Star Vehicle”

The always-charming Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence struggle to elevate this weak space romance.

Morten Tyldum, surely one of the least distinctive directors working today, brings his generic (non) style to outer space in a wildly ambitious blockbuster Sony Pictures are probably regretting already. The film, essentially a sci-fi Titanic, opens with Chris Pratt’s character emerging from a hibernation pod on an interstellar vessel 90 years too early, and alone on the massive ship with only robot bartender Michael Sheen for company. The first act sees Pratt grow a beard as he struggles with boredom and loneliness… until a second passenger wakes up: glamorous writer Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence’s character is quite unappealing: she’s arrogant, haughty and doesn’t seem particularly intelligent. Yet she’s also the target of questionable lechery that has brought controversy, unfathomably, upon this intensely plain film.

There are an assortment of enjoyable sequences, including a dance-off, much of which is improved by Thomas Newman’s typically gorgeous score. The visual effects, which are put to use in the appalling and dull finale, are unexceptional, and the performances- particularly Lawrence’s- seem phoned-in. The central romance, which by all estimation should be charming, is too muddied by sexual strangeness and the motives of Pratt’s character to work. Paying massive salaries to both leads for the privilege of displaying their beautiful faces on the poster, Sony were banking on the very 1990s power of the popular actor to draw audiences to an original project with nothing fresh to offer. Sorry, Sony: audiences have better judgement than that.


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Lucien writes on film, television and politics at and co-hosts the podcasts Above All Else and The 99%.

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