Suppose you were on a voyage to a colony on another planet, and you’re in one of those sleep chambers. Then you wake up, recover from years of suspended animation, then stroll through the ship—and find no one else awake.
That is the puzzle Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), a mechanic, finds himself in. When he makes inquiries, he gets frustrating responses from cheerful holograms. He finally figures out he was woken up early—ninety years early. Unless he can figure out a solution, he will die on the spaceship, alone.
As you can see from the previews, there’s a girl involved, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). While Jim wants the challenges of putting his skills to work on a new planet, she’s a writer who paid for a round trip to get new experiences to write about. They are the unlikeliest of couples.
Passengers is a fun and satisfying movie, in contrast to the awful movie Arrival, which I reviewed here. The holograms who give Jim cheerful answers to his awful fate are genuinely funny. And the total despair he falls into after being alone for a year, eating bland food and having no human to talk to, is an experience easy to sympathize with, thanks to the affable and engaging performance by Chris Pratt. Although his portrayal of a man struggling against the universe is good, he gives the most depth to the man struggling against himself.
When Aurora comes along, they have their awkward initial scenes, then an extremely fun date (I don’t think I’m revealing anything by saying they fall in love.) There are a couple of implied sex scenes I could have done without, though oddly enough Jennifer Lawrence’s swimsuit made me more uncomfortable. But the story goes into full swing as we watch them fall madly in love, do stupid things together, and inevitably throw stuff against the wall.
Although the rotating spaceship, shown from multiple angles, is an awesome spectacle, their artificial gravity wouldn’t actually work the way they show it. And there are problems with the climactic actions scenes—like staring at nuclear fusion without eye protection. But if you want someone who likes romance to watch science fiction, or vice versa, Passengers is a worthy experience.
P.S. In Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, wasn’t she named Aurora? Yeah.