Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Morten Tyldum
Rating: 4 stars
In about a few decades space exploration would have advanced so much to allow a journey like Passengers in real, for now one has a cinematic experience to behold. Although one hopes that when the journey actually happens a hibernation pod does not malfunction and if it does one hopes to have an experience like Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) who manage to play it cool and even in the middle of a melting spaceship, they go on a date, get married and perhaps start a colony within it.
We have seen in the recent past a number of space exploration movies, each one of it having a little malfunction or a technical glitch at the centre of the plot. The cast of the movie then resolving and working together to make things work, and have a chance to return home. This one is a bit different though, because for Jim and Aurora, there is no place called home anymore. In their journey to another earth, along with five thousand other people in a massive spaceship, they have woken up at a time when travelling in either direction would not bring them home. The most wonderful bit about the story is the absolute demise of the idea of home. Travel is exciting and revelatory till the time one has the comfort of returning home. Even in Cast Away Tom Hanks knows that someday someone might come to fetch him and so he continues to live on a deserted island.
Passengers gives you an opportunity to not just peek into the future but also discover something that is of value in the present. While most of us continue to wait for a certain destination in order to live our lives, life is happening every moment. As a species we need to understand if journey is as important or perhaps more important than the destination. There are only two characters Jim and Aurora, Gus (Laurence Fishburne) joins them for a brief period and Arthur (Michael Sheen) is an android. You would have to see the film to know how a small cast such as this is enough to make a good movie. To tell you about the more important things that matter.
At this point it is also not relevant to have a technological discussion into the why and how of the space journey, it is just better to assume that the discussion will definitely happen when the time comes for it. For now it is enough to revel in the glorious dream that mankind has been dreaming for centuries, the dream to venture out in the space, perhaps find another home too.
Passengers has a very good soundtrack which fills you up in the moments that would otherwise be too dull to live through and there are some thrilling visuals that one has not imagined before. Like the scene where the ship’s gravity goes offline and Aurora is in the swimming pool suddenly the water becomes a huge bubble in which she is trapped, unable to swim out of it. Interactions with Arthur are very interesting and while we already have technology firms announcing such androids, it is only a matter of time when such things will become a part of our households, and having a personal barman who never fails to shine the glasses is definitely a pleasure.
I think it is a good film to begin the year with; it lends you enough optimism not just at a personal but also at a universal level. Who knows what will happen when we actually set out on such journeys, by the time we get any news from the spaceship about its location and its status we would have waited decades or even a century after its departure and for those who would be on those ships, whatever happens, they can only enjoy the ride while it lasts, who knows what awaits them in those worlds.
The writer is founder, Lightcube Film Society