Kind of like the issues surrounding automated car travel, automated space travels has a whole range of obstacles that have yet to be contemplated. With the nearest habitable system many lifetimes away, suspended animation of the human colonists is likely the only way to go. How can we conceive of a system that would adequately manage the adverse journey? An explanation of what could go wrong, and how to remedy these roadblocks to galaxy domination, we must turn to 2016’s interstellar romantic drama Passengers.
When colonist Jim Preston awakes 90 years too early, he quickly realises that the colossal colony ship he is currently occupying will be his tomb, too far from Earth to return and not close enough to his intended destination to begin waking everybody up. A year among the ship’s near infinite resources and amenities only grow the feeling of loneliness and the conversations of the robotic barkeeper aren’t much substitute. He seeks a friend and a companion although by opening their pod, would seal their doom alongside him. Problems arise as it turns out its not only his pod that has issues but the ship itself, and to deal with the problems, he may not have much choice.
Charm is beneficial for a film like this, and the cast provides that charm in spades. Chris Pratt manages to irradiate engagement, impressive when he spends a good portion of the film, basically by himself. When he’s not alone he is joined by Michael Sheen who is delightful as a sympathetic robot butler, with his bar, attire and presence a constant reminder of fellow isolation film, The Shining, yet still manages to be endearing when needed. And Jennifer Lawrence is also quite skilled in her portrayal as novelist and candidate for a companion to Jim, aptly named Aurora.
The film manages to evoke a variety of conflicting emotions and manages to evoke them without feeling muddled. It is surprising how funny Passengers can be despite its pessimistic situation. As well as being deeply contemplative. The ship itself is visually attention-grabbing too, with its design thoroughly cemented in contemporary sci-fi, has the look of an expensive luxury hotel and plaza at times. Making the fatalistic reality hanging over the characters seem almost non-existent.
Passengers is an interesting Sci-fi flick, trying to balance the ethical weight of its dilemma, with an interstellar love story. As well as some strong action and special effects for people who find that stuff boring. Passengers is a film that proves the old cliché true, that it is not the destination that’s important, but the journey along the way.
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