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 – Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoë Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim, Lydia Wilson, and more.

Directed by: Justin Lin Written by: Simon Pegg and Doug Jung Based on the series by: Gene Roddenberry Cinematography by: Stephen F. Windon Music by: Michael Giacchino

Premise: Three years into their five year mission, Kirk is wondering if he doesn’t need a change. While visiting the new Yorktown space station, the Enterprise gets an unexpected mission. They are tasked to go rescue a stranded crew in an uncharted nebula. But the mission turns out to be something else entirely. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: The gang is back! And Karl Urban is too awesome. lol. I do love me some Dr. McCoy and he is so good at it! lol. Chris Pine does a nice job showing Kirk’s drifting as he internally loses his way. Zachary Quinto continues to deliver those great flat line punche. And also we get some surprises from him as well. Anton Yelchin truly puts his stamp as Chekov this time around, which will make us miss him all the more. Sofia Boutella adds a nice extra layer as Jaylah.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: Some amazing stuff this time around with the special effects. Yorktown is super cool. Though I wish they’d slowed down the fast panning when we get our first look – it went way too fast. Which is a pity since it was so awesome! Let us enjoy your work!

Kudos on making the bad guys’ blasters/energy discharges look different. The energy had a funky shape, which was neat. The buildings and machinery of the ancient dwellings were rather neat. They definitely spoke of it being a different culture.

Though they were all still humanoid, we did get to see a whole range of new species in the film, which was awesome. I could not take my eyes off of Tyvanna and her cauliflower like layered head.

The swarm ships were rather nifty and looked cool. They way they were employed was rather brilliant. The Federation needs to get ahold of this metal!

If you see the film in 3D, the credits are a super treat as they show different planets, nebulas, and other gas fields. (Keep your eyes peeled for the giant green hand! I kid you not! lol) Lots of lovely work throughout the film.

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: I’ve pretty much given up on the science making sense in this franchise anymore, so I don’t even try. So if you can turn that part of your brain off, the film can be quite enjoyable.

This is the film that bridges the old with the new. It’s like we are at the cusp of them being at the point where we first meet them in the original series. They merge the new theme music with the old theme music even more than in the past. Snippets and lines get thrown in that are well known and even in-jokes allude to the old series. And at the end they wrap it up with those words we all know so well.

Kirk and Spock finds themselves at a cross-roads. It is for different reasons, yet the decisions they are poised to make can change everything. Kirk’s ends up resonating as a recurring theme for several characters and even the main plot. There are some unexpected layers to why things are happening. So some things will seem odd until the explanations finally reveal what is not yet known.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: Lots of phaser combat on the ship and on the planet. Explosions, gravity shifts, and more get people thrown all over the place. Nice job!

5) Locations/Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: As I mentioned earlier, they took the pan views of Yorktown way too fast. For the rest of the shots, however, you get some great views of the areas. The shots in space of the hive, the station, and the general mayhem in the first attack were fabulous.

Conclusion: Star Trek Beyond ties the old and new together. They still have issues with bad science. But if you can ignoring those, the film moves well and has plenty for audiences to enjoy. Some lovely in-jokes too!

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