Forget Requiem for a Dream, The Basketball Diaries and Sophie's Choice. The new undisputed heavyweight champion of depressing as fuck movies is Passengers. Why? Because apparently even if you're hunky, cool Chris "Low Fat" Pratt you still have to be the last man alive to have a shot at a super sexy, super smart, super funny chick like Jennifer "The Fapening" Lawrence.
Because, you know, the holiday season isn't already chock full of enough reasons to consider making sweet mouth love to a Smith & Wesson.
In the future, the Earth is such a shithole that people are willing to pay top dollar to immigrate to new planets hundreds of light years away. The trip takes 120 years, so the 5000 colonists on the starship Avalon are all fast a-cryo-sleep, hibernating like so many rich grizzlies until they arrive at the colony planet Homestead II.
That is, until a meteoroid hits the ship and Pratt's engineer, Jim Preston, is woken up accidentally. With 90 years left on the trip and no way to go back to cryo-sleep, Jim is up shit creek without a paddle, canoe, floaties or swimming lessons.
After a year of wandering the cruise ship-like Avalon with no one to talk to but a robot bartender named Arthur (Michael "Charlie" Sheen), Jim finds himself slowly going insane. He could wake another passenger up to keep him company, but if he does that he's sentencing her (because you can bet your Aunt Tilly's titties he ain't waking up a dude) to die on the ship with him before they ever reach the New New World.
Like the Avalon, with its dancing holograms and pretty but useless information kiosks, Passengers is all glitzy surface and no substance. It's content to use Jim's bushy beard, boozing and bare ass (you're welcome, ladies) to show his deepening space madness, and it has him agonize over his thorny ethical dilemma - To wake, or not to wake? - for all of two minutes before he defrosts Lawrence's Aurora.
Yuppers. Aurora. Like in Sleeping Beauty. Fucking hacks.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful journalist in cryostasis. One day, a half-crazed engineer who'd been cyberstalking her sleeping ass for more than a year used his magic screwdriver to wake her up and doom her to live the rest of her life floating through the endless depths of space in a tin can with only him and a robot bartender for company. The End.
Jim waking Aurora up casts a creepier than Conrad Veidt shadow over an otherwise serviceable romantic-action-adventure story. Passengers would have been SO much better if, like Jim, Aurora woke up by accident. Or if Jim had to wake her up to save her life. Or if she'd turned out to be an android. Or a Muppet. Pretty much anything other than what happened.
But no. The producers, writer and director felt like they had to manufacture a Third Act conflict. After all, having to save the ship, the 5000 other people on it and yourselves from fiery space-death just wouldn't have been high enough stakes.
December 30, 2016