Movie Review – Passengers

Passengers

Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Julee Cerda, Aurora Perrineau, Andy Garcia, Vince Foster, Kara Flowers, Conor Brophy, and more.

Directed by: Morten Tyldum Written by: Jon Spaihts Cinematography by: Rodrigo Prieto Music by: Thomas Newman

Premise: The colony ship Avalon is on route to Homestead II. It’s carrying 5,000 passengers and 258 crew all in suspended animation for the 120-year trip. 30 years in, the ship encounters an asteroid field. One of the asteroids is massive enough that it breaks into pieces when hitting the ship’s shields rather than be vaporized. The ship sustains some seemingly minor damage it is able to repair. However, a chip on one of the hibernation pods shorts out, and the passenger is awakened. Something which has never occurred in the history of the company. And something the ship was never programmed to handle. So Jim Preston finds himself alone, with 90 years of the journey still to go. His only companion in a ship of over 5,000 people, a semi-intelligent bartender android. And the ship wasn’t actually able to repair all the damage… And it can only hold out so long. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence did outstanding work in film. They also have great chemistry together. Something that’s crucial since for 95% of the movie they are the only ones carrying it forward. Chris gave real emotional weight to Jim’s problems when he first wakes up alone and later when he battles himself over a major decision. Jennifer Lawrence also runs the gambit once she’s brought awake, and again later when she learns a horrifying truth. Michael Sheen is fabulous. His portrayal of Arthur as the semi-intelligent android and the passenger’s only available outlet was top notch. You could almost see his programming struggling to do more and to understand more than his software could handle. Laurence Fishburne also added a lot as Gus Mancuso. The whole cast was fantastic.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: Lots to love with regards to the special effects. The Avalon is a gorgeous ship! Self-repairing, auto maintaining, and so beautiful. A lot of care is taken on scope and view angles. When Jim goes on his first spacewalk, his position feels stationary as everything around him is spinning. In reality, though, the two are swapped. (Don’t watch the surrounding stars for too long as it will make you dizzy!) Tons of lovely attention to detail!

The Dance Dance Revolution type game was hilarious. And all the 3D holograms and interactive systems looked great. The pool area was fab. And what they do with it when gravity fails at one point was awesome.

The gorgeous views of the universe, and especially the gas giant, will make you feel it’s those who are asleep that are missing everything and not those who are awake. A lot of fantastic visuals. Totally worth the 3D price.

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: True science fiction is more than just about spaceships, aliens, and weapons. It’s a medium for exploring human behavior, the human condition. “Passengers” definitely explores several levels of both. They also have fun playing with the hubris of corporations and how nature and Murphy’s Law care nothing about it. lol.

The science is, for the most part, solid as well. So that’s a bonus. Though the film does take a few things to unbelievable extremes. The spacesuits in the Avalon are beyond miraculous – heat shield or no heat shield. The autodoc is too, once you get past the pesky restrictions. lol.

The film is a combination of “Silent Running,” “Robinson Crusoe,” “Cast Away,” and more. It’s also a great date movie. These are things to keep in mind as it will probably not resonate with some viewer’s expectations. Hubby and I, however, were quite pleased.

One bit that gets done wrong or is misleading in way too many movies is the act of writing. Aurora is a journalist and a writer. And they show her just speaking out her thoughts and the computer typing them for her on a screen. While that’s all well and good, the part they do not cover is EDITING! You can just jumble stuff down on paper, but NEVER is that the final product. NEVER! You have to go over it, prune it, add to it, change it, make sure it flows, that it makes sense, that it’s legible. Even this movie review is not just typed and posted. Editing happens to it too! Gasp, wheeze, breathe. *Ahem*

The fabulous acting, gorgeous vistas, and well thought out scenarios will help audiences overlook the overstretched items. And some little things did show a lot of thought. At one point we see Jim drawing on the deck for something he’s working on. And he thought it through thoroughly. Many will probably miss it, but what he does is a real achievement, especially since he’s trying to avoid damaging any systems. You’ll know it when you see it.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: From about the middle to the end of the film there are several scenes with stunts. And most look to have been done by the actors! They meshed quite nicely with the CGI of what was going on around them. Great job!

5) Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: I believe that between “Prometheus,” “Avatar,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” that other films’ visual effects and cinematography have a high bar to compete against. “Passengers” works hard to get near the three. The spanning space shots. The views of different parts of the ship. The gas giant, the asteroid field, and more are presented in fabulous ways. There are even some beautiful gas clouds during the end credits that take full advantage of the 3D. Nice!

Make sure to take a good look at the end of the film when the crew awakens and goes into the main concourse! It’s super fast but super cool. And there are so many details it’s hard to take them all in before it goes away!

Conclusion: Whether you go see “Passengers” for date night or for social SF or just the cool visuals, the film is definitely worth it. Add in a little suspension of disbelief at a couple of places, and you’re in for a treat.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again)

 

Movie Review – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Elden Henson, Wes Chatham, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Paula Malcomson, Stanley Tucci, and more.

Directed by: Francis Lawrence Screenplay by: Peter Craig and Danny Strong Based on the Novel by: Suzanne Collins Cinematography by: Jo Willems Music by: James Newton Howard

Premise: With the 13 districts united, the rebels turn their focus to the capitol. Katniss struggles with what’s been done to Peeta and also what to do about Gale. Worse, President Snow decides to turn a large chunk of the capitol into a new Hunger Games. And Katniss learns President Coin might soon no longer have a use for her. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth give great performances as the odd love triangle spins, gets even more complex. and eventually comes to a resolution. Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore were a lot of fun as the opposing presidents. Elden Henson and Wes Chatham added some nice depth to the story as Pollux and Castor.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: The special effects team does a superb job in the film. The scene where everyone is cut off and the black water comes, and then when we see the black water in action and chasing after them, was awesome. Loads of explosions and heavy gun fire. The close range explosions from the arrows looked great underground. The 50+ caliber guns and the devastation on the columns from the bullets looked very real. And wait till you see the special surprise the group is given by Snow’s team in the sewers. My only problem was that the marketing department gave away all the good traps in the previews! Boo! (Hubby was displeased!)

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: It really would be nice if films that have multiple parts or have sequels with years in between, the movie makers would deign to remember not everyone will have rewatched the previous films before seeing the new release and give a recap. Especially for side characters! While remembering the principal people was easy, there were several side characters who’ve been in several of the films who weren’t as memorable for whatever reason and therefore it was hard to realize who they were and what their backgrounds were to get the audience to care when bad things happen to them. Jena Malone’s character Johanna Mason was one of these. I adored her performance in Part 2, but I was hard pressed to remember anything about the character at all. And not remembering anything, makes it very hard to care. (This was a major suffering point for the film “Insurgent” earlier this year.)

Aside from not knowing who some of the people were, however, I very much enjoyed the direction they took with the film. Talking with my daughter, who read all the books, I know they changed a few points for the ending, but these were improvements to the plot rather than issues. They also continued to show that actions have consequences and will affect people emotionally as they had in the previous films.

The major theme this time played with duality and perceptions. Katniss comparing Peeta and Gale. Peeta comparing remembered and altered memories. Gale and the way he viewed enemies as things rather than people and how this comes back on him. It even applied to President Snow and Coin.

Another theme they had fun bandying about pertained to hubris and pride. Also how your enemy can be your friend and vice versa. And both themes tie in to the ending at the capitol, which was well played if a little transparent.

Only thing I wished we’d gotten a little more on was Snow’s reactions when he thought Katniss was dead and then found out she was alive. Totally unexpected reaction, but it spoke back to that duality theme I mentioned before. Heh heh.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: The cast and the stunt team did some great work in Part 2. The fight in the sewers was especially well done – lots of hand-to-hand combat goodness. Between the traps and several explosions during the film, people get thrown all over the place.

5) Costuming/Makeup – Thumbs Up: While the departments did a great job as usual, there was one thing missing. A section of this film happens at the capitol. Several meetings even occurred in Snow’s mansion. But for the most part all the outrageous clothes and makeup were nowhere to be seen there. In a scene with actual citizens running to and fro, there were still no true funky clothes and hairstyles. Tigris definitely had both, but she’s just one person, and an extreme case at that. Even Effie was toned down. Seeing these people in their wild getups and makeup was half the fun in the previous films! 😛

Conclusion: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 was worth the wait though they would have benefited from a recap or releasing this one close to Part 1. Gritty and emotional and a fun ride.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)