Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Tuesday's reviews: Passengers (2016)

I wanted to see Passengers from the moment I first saw the trailer. For one thing, Chris Pratt is looking good and I'm always happy to watch that face for an hour or two. Secondly, Michael Sheen as an android? I'm there. Especially if he really is giving up acting in favour of Welsh politics. Finally, the trailer made it out to be a super exciting suspense thriller. It seemed perfect. However, the more I saw/read about the film the more I realised that I'd definitely hate it. I still wanted to watch it though. The lure of some Pratt facetime was just too great. Although my major gripe about the film had something to do with Chris Pratt's casting. In that I was annoyed by the significant age gap between the two stars on screen. Christ Pratt is about 37 years old whilst Jennifer Lawrence is a youthful looking 26. Now I'm not disputing that relationships occur between people with an age gap of 10 plus years but I don't see why it had to happen. Lawrence keeps being cast in roles that should be played by an older actor despite having looking younger than her years. Is Hollywood just running out of women in their mid 30s or men in their late 20s? I know the pair make a beathtakingly beautiful couple but I just think the whole premise becomes even creepier when you consider the age gap. But maybe that's just cynical old me?

Passengers is one of those films that looks too good to be true. It's full of beautiful people, wearing beautiful clothes, and getting in perilous situations in beautiful locations. There had to be a catch somewhere. No film has that much emphasis on looking shiny and perfect whilst still offering up a great story. So what is the story? The film introduces us to the Avalon, a starship that is making the journey to a distant planet that is to be colonised by the 5,000 odd people on board. The journey would take 120 Earth years so everyone is in hibernation pods. Well, until an asteroid field causes damage to the ship and Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is woken up 90 years too soon. Jim, a mechanic, spends months trying to come to terms with his situation and taking as much pleasure as he can in the high-tech ship. But, it turns out, that a man can only find so much joy in basketball, competitive dance games, and robot waiters. Unable to find a way to go back into hibernation, Jim contemplates ending his life.

Well, until a twist of fate leaves him face-to-face with Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), a writer who is still sleeping through the lengthy journey. To pass his time, Jim starts spending time reading Aurora's writing, watching her Avalon video biography. and eating his lunch next to her hibernation pod. So naturally, he figures he's in love with her. Clearly, whenever I see a person sleeping I automatically fall in love with them too. It's super fucking awkward. Unable to forget his impending lonely life Jim wakes up Aurora from her pod and happily pretends that it happened by accident. It's fucking crazy! And, because they are the only two humans around, Jim happily pursues the woman he condemned and the pair fall into the best relationship they can when it comes out of such limited options. Plus, basketball and dancing is great and all but sex is the best thing to fight the impending doom of waiting out your life on a spaceship. Until, Aurora finds out what Jim did and, naturally, decides he is not just the only other conscious person but the worst human being of all time.

It's no fucking wonder that the trailers went so fucking far to erase this massive detail from all of the promotional stuff. This was being sold as a romantic space thriller but instead it's just a fucking crazed stalker holding a pretty young girl hostage. It's a weird premise that the writers clearly try to present as morally contemptible and we do see Jim spending a few seconds weighing up the ethics of the situation. Then we see Aurora dismiss him and part company from him. This is all perfectly normal behaviour. Well, until the film's dismal final act. This is where the film falls down in so many ways. We have the inevitable heroic moment when Jim offers to lay down his life to save the 5,000 plus souls on board. And, apparently, that's all it takes to take a woman from "your murdered me" to 'I can't live without you'. Fucking romantic.

I'm not saying that Passengers is a bad film simply because of this decision. Obviously, it's the most worrying thing about it but, more than that, Passengers is simply a really bad story. It halfheartedly tries to make a point about ethics in extreme situations but them just ignores it for a shitty sentimental ending. It's a film that looks amazing but lacks so much in premise that, were it not for the blatant sexism on show, would have made it a completely forgettable film. It's always a bad sign when your watching a film that doesn't get better than it's opening 30 minutes when you're basically watching a guy doing Groundhog Day in space. After that everything falls apart.

This is a film created by men to appeal to men. Women will sit there watching an unsuspecting and defenceless girl being manipulated by a seemingly nice guy and eventually succumbing to Stockholm syndrome. It's no wonder we have such a problem with men understanding boundaries when it comes to relationships and sex in this society. Everyman Chris Pratt makes a morally disgusting and selfish choice but is eventually rewarded by getting to see Jennifer Lawrence's boobs. Yes, I know the film makes an attempt to show how bad the decision was but it is ultimately justified when Aurora makes the decision to stay with Jim instead of going back into hibernation. What does that fucking tell people? With enough persistence and limited options then any woman will chose you over the life they intended to live? Ugh, please. Any real woman would have left that creepy piece of shit and gone to Homestead II as planned. Chris Pratt or no Chris Pratt.

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