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 – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, Callan Mulvey, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Michael Shannon, and more.

Directed by: Zack Snyder Written by: Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer Based on characters created by: Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, and William Moulton Marston Cinematography by: Larry Fong Music by: Junkie XL and Hans Zummer

Premise: A year and a half after the events revealing Superman to the world, there are those still trying to decide what threat this all powerful alien is to Earth. As an incident in the Arab nations suddenly brings a dark cloud over Superman’s reputation, Bruce Wayne starts to believe it might be time to do something about him sooner rather than later. (Rated PG-13)

Review:
1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Ben Affleck does a great job as an older, less trusting Batman. Henry Cavill reprises his role as the man of steel, making it look easy. Jeremy Irons brought some lovely acerbic spice to the role of Alfred. Gal Gadot was fun as Diana Prince, letting out a little of her inner Selina Kyle (Catwoman). 😛 Jesse Eisenberg was interesting as Lex, though the character was written a little bit too manic and psycho, giving him shades of the Joker.  Amy Adams did more lovely work as Lois Lane – showing what makes her such a great reporter and friend. Holly Hunter was a hoot as Senator Finch. And though uncredited, it was lovely to see Papa Winchester (Jeffrey Dean morgan) as Thomas Wayne.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: Tons of special effects fill the film. (I know – DUH!) 😛  We get cool lab tech, new Batman toys, and destruction galore.

The recreation of Superman’s battle with Zod but done from the perspective of a frantic Bruce Wayne on the ground was some lovely work.

The battle clash between Batman and Supes was very well done and gratifying. (Even though I did want to smack them both in the back of the head.) 😛

The short video clip files for the origin of Cyborg (as they move the movie franchise towards the Justice League) are totally awesome!

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: Before the film started, they showed a short video where the filmmakers ask the audience to please not spoil it for anyone else by revealing secrets, plot twists, etc. Not sure what they were thinking would be all that surprising to give away (I had a good idea where all this was going and why just from the previews!), but I will attempt to not do any spoilers.

Anyone who’s ever read Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns miniseries will know where a lot of the material is coming from or have seen it explored before to some extent elsewhere. (Frank Miller was given credit for contributing in the film’s credits – yay!) All people and beings can feel helpless, regardless of how much money or power they hold – something both DC Comic lines have played with for years. Interestingly, they included several offshoots from other miniseries/standalone graphic novels with regards to alternate timelines/realities for Batman and Superman. That was rather fun – but also a little confusing.

One thing I must point out though – Batman does NOT kill. While they did a decent job working up why he’d change his usual MO to get rid of Superman, they did nothing to show why he’s suddenly killing human criminals. Guess you can’t have big explosions to light up the screen without killing, so killing happened. Boo!

I found it odd too how they imbued Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor with traits from Catwoman and Joker. These two characters are plenty fascinating on their own without needing to be tweaked. And Lex might be insane, but he’s more sociopathic than psycho. And making something without a way to control it? Lex? Doubtful! (We also get a complete Batman origin replay, but nothing for Supes, which seemed odd?)

The only true flaw I found, however, was in one of the most important driving pieces of the plot itself – the altercation in the desert! People there died from bullets, so how the heck does that translate into Superman killing people? If the mercenaries had come back later and altered the scene, it would have been nice for the congressional hearings to have mentioned what was found to make it look like Superman committed unnecessary slaughter – otherwise, it makes no sense at all!

But, if you ignore that, the rest works for the most part. Those who know the comics and characters well, I doubt will be that surprised by the progression of events.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: A ton of stunts fill the film from one end to the other. CGI was thrown into the mix as well but is very well integrated with the real sets and fights. You’ll grunt and hurt for them. 😛

The hand-to-hand fight in the warehouse was awesome! (Even though Bats does not do guns, ya’ll! (Still looked awesome though.))

5) Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: Lovely cinematography work by Larry Fong. Seeing Wayne manor in ruins was creepy. Tons of overhead shots or panned back shots to really bring home the scope of the battles. And nice closeups in the middle of the chaos too.

Conclusion: Batman v Superman (Shouldn’t that be vs. ? Guy in the pre-film thing said ‘v’ instead of ‘versus’ too – what was up with that?) is a fun ride full of things to think about as well as tons of action. Pay close attention to the closing scene! No extra bits during or after the credits.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again)