Futuristic sci-fi is not the first genre I search for when going to the movie theater. However, every once in awhile there will be one film that catches my attention and truly impresses and entertains me. Perhaps it was Chris Pratt (whose movie characters always starkly contrast his iconic portrayal of Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation) and the ever versatile Jennifer Lawrence. Whatever the case, Passengers brilliantly highlighted Pratt’s and Lawrence’s acting talent while portraying a unique story.
Set years in the future, the human race has developed the technology to send waves of people aboard the spaceship Avalon to colonize a new world on the planet Homestead II. The catch? It takes 120 years to get there. All 5,000 passengers are placed in individual hibernation pods where they are kept alive but their physical development is halted, ultimately allowing them to wake up 120 years later in the same condition as the beginning of the voyage. When the Avalon is hit by a meteor shower, one hibernation pod is activated – Jim Preston’s (played by Pratt).
The worst part is that he has been awoken 90 years too soon.
With his only friend being an emotionless robotic bartender named Arthur, Preston must face the reality of his eternal loneliness. That is until fellow passenger Aurora Lane, played by Lawrence, is awoken just a couple years later.
As anticipated, the two fall madly in love and thoroughly enjoy their solitude on the Avalon. But alas, it is not long until the ship suffers malfunction after malfunction. It is up to the couple to take action and save themselves and all 4,998 sleeping passengers on board.
What impresses me most about the film is how just two characters can carry the plot without fail. Like I said, I am not usually attracted to sci-fi movies because I get bored of them pretty easily, so this was an extra-successful storyline in my opinion. It reminded me of how Cast Away managed to convey its plot so effortlessly with only a single character.
What Passengers and Cast Away have in common, besides their small casts, is the central theme of navigating loneliness. Loneliness is something we have all experienced yet strive to avoid. However, there is such distinction between being alone as an individual and being alone with another person. This movie made me question if we are ever truly alone. In Cast Away Tom Hanks’ character created Wilson out of an inanimate object while Preston and Lane in Passengers at least had each other. This added a layer of drama, love, lust, and overall a more complex expression of entertainment.
The whole time I was watching the movie, I kept imagining myself in their shoes, alone on a spaceship knowing that no one else would wake up for 90 years. Even though the movie was blatantly fictional, the concept of loneliness it projected was scarily realistic.
Futuristic sci-fi is not the first genre I search through when going to the movie theater. Honestly though, I am going to watch it again after writing this.