At First Glance: “Passengers”

Science fiction films may not have any trouble being fun and somewhat entertaining, but the likelihood of standing out among the rest, may be harder to achieve this way. So much seems to just be recycled from the previous films, both good and bad, and after awhile that gets tiresome. There’s got to be something, not just unique, but something that really draws people in and says this trip was worth it. It may not revolutionize the genre at all, but if it’s not been seen countless times before, it should do just fine.

The upcoming Columbia Pictures film “Passengers”, looks beautiful, fascinating, and mysterious, which is the best possible thing you can have for a film of this nature.

This sci-fi thriller stars Jennifer Lawrence (“X-Men: Apocalypse”, “Joy”), Chris Pratt (upcoming “The Magnificent Seven (2016)”, “Jurassic World”), Michael Sheen (upcoming episodes and film “Masters of Sex”, “Nocturnal Animals”), Laurence Fishburne (“Black-ish”, “Roots (2016)”), and Andy Garcia (upcoming films “Max Steele”, “The True Memoirs of an International Assassin”).

The film is directed by Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”, “Headhunters”) and written by Jon Spaihts (“Prometheus”, “The Darkest Hour”).

The film is expected to open on Dec. 21, 2016.
At long last! I finally feel like I know what this film is about. Mind you, there’s still a part of me that thinks there’s a lot of mystery surrounding this film, but that’s a good thing. Originally, all I seemed to know about this film was that it was about two people who wake up on a ship much sooner than expected. That was it, more or less. Month after month after month, that was all I heard or read. When the first pictures started coming out, it was great! Lawrence and Pratt could finally be seen, but there was still so little to know about this film. I guess, in some way, I was resigned to the fact that I’d never know anything about this film. I’d just go in blind and either enjoy it or not. I believe all that has now been rectified.

The biggest thing on display, other than all of the space and science fiction elements, which look amazing and which I’m super excited about, is the chemistry between Lawrence and Pratt. I don’t think I expected what I got. Individually, yes, they each radiate and are amazing to see on screen or see during various interviews, but this is something else altogether. This is going to be one of the best casting choices this year!

Going off of that, what this trailer showed of Lawrence and Pratt was nice. It was fun. It made me laugh a little bit. And then, it turned into some eerie and mysterious film with danger and wonder involved, courtesy of great visuals. These are the science fiction elements, and I’m excited about these. All of these bits just brought this film to life even more. Chemistry is one thing, but it won’t mean much if this film’s story isn’t interesting enough. Before, like I said already, it was just vague. I could never get a read on if this sounded even remotely worth getting excited about. I guess some of my hope was because Spaihts’ script was featured on the 2007 Blacklist of most liked unmade scripts of the year.

What I love, which the trailer showcases, and is a positive and a negative, is the mystery. What the hell’s going on? That’s the big question, among so many others, like, Why is Sheen’s robot character seemingly malfunctioning like that? Why are they awake? It’s a mystery that Spaihts is familiar with. A lot of people may see “Prometheus” as just a Damon Lindelof written film, but Spaihts had a hand in it, and I like to believe somewhere in the film is his original work. That he always intended for mystery to be a big part of the film. Here, which is so frustrating at the same time, I think he’s got that. Another big thing he has, which I just thought about, is a film that will delve deep into the characters. With a pretty small cast, and a large focus on the two leads, giving audiences fully realized characters may also be a possibility. Science fiction doesn’t typically get this type of treatment, so I’m excited to see if this is the case, or if it comes close to happening.

Something else worth getting excited about, which I learned at the very end of the film, which is why I love it read the credits featured, is who the film’s composer will be. Thomas Newman (“Finding Dory”, “Spectre”)! Since he’s done work in both action and comedy-drama films, I’m excited for what he will do. He’ll bring enough whimsical and fun music as well as what’s needed to heighten tension and bring about fear and danger. All of it, of course, in a unique way that says it’s fresh and that of something he created. Sometimes you only need to hear a little bit from a given composer to know instantly, that it’s their work.

A science fiction film should be many things. Fun, being chiefly among them. However, with science fiction films popping up all over, and most not doing much to stand out, it’s tough to get excited about them. There’s so little to be excited about. Aliens and spaceships are all fine, but sometimes a film like this needs something more. Some sort of fresh take and intelligence. An entertaining film doesn’t need to be devoid of a truly smart story. Perhaps this new film, headed by two talented and top notch actors, can showcase to millions what they and Hollywood have been missing out on.


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