Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

January 6, 2017

Space jam!

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 8:47 pm

January 06, 2017

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne

Director: Morten Tyldum

The Oxford English Dictionary defines luminosity as “the intrinsic brightness of a celestial object”. Think stars. Big, shining stars.

As it turns out, stars don’t come much bigger and brighter than Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, two of Hollywood’s most charismatic young actors who radiate that glow, that luminosity in abundance. Both have a magnetic quality on screen, and they’re immediately likeable. Whoever thought of casting them together – it’s a masterstroke.

In Passengers, directed by Morten Tyldum, a sci-fi romance that unfolds on a luxurious intergalactic cruise ship, Pratt plays Jim, a mechanical engineer, and Lawrence is Aurora, a journalist, who emerge from their hibernation pods some 90 years before their ship is scheduled to reach the colonial planet Homestead II. Barring an android bartender (Michael Sheen), they’re the only ones up and about from among 5,000 passengers on board who remain in deep sleep.

Frankly as much as the film is about these two characters meeting and connecting under such extraordinary circumstances, there is a big moral dilemma that drives the conflict of this story. It’s a crucial plot point, a terrific one that should have been handled better. The problem with Passengers is that it doesn’t follow that dilemma through to the end. The script (by John Spaihts) chooses instead to focus on the romance, and, in borrowing from James Cameron’s Titanic, on an impending disaster that has been set up early on in the film. As a result, it all gets too sappy and conventional in its final act. The daring heroics and race against time seem entirely predictable, and the promise of raising relevant questions about human nature remains unfulfilled.

It is then a testament to the sheer talent and the irresistible appeal of both Lawrence and Pratt that Passengers doesn’t derail despite these hiccups. There is enough chemistry between them for you to invest in their relationship, the sets are gorgeous and elaborate, and the special effects create a sense of spectacle.

Although the film is often corny, I enjoyed the company of these two charmers. I’m going with three out of five for Passengers. Give it a chance, you might enjoy it.

(This review first aired on CNN News18)

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