The first reviews for Sony Pictures' upcoming space-set adventure Passengers have emerged online and calling them 'harsh' would be an understatement. Many believed that a film starring two of Hollywood's hottest talents – Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt – and directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Morten Tyldum was sure to impress but unfortunately, most critics were left disappointed.
The film itself takes place on a luxurious interstellar spacecraft which is part way through a 120-year journey to its destination, Homestead II. Due to the lengthy travel time, all 5,000 people aboard the ship are supposed to be in suspended animation but when an incident rouses one passenger named Jim Preston (Pratt), he believes he'll be stuck travelling alone.
That is, until he discovers Aurora (Lawrence), who has also been awakened and the pair begin to fall in love just as they discover that the ship is malfunctioning and endangering its entire population.
Sounds intriguing, right? So what did the movie get so wrong? Here's what the critics said...
The Hollywood Reporter: Under less shiny, by-the-numbers direction, the story might have soared, or at least been more stirring. Yet while Passengers offers a few shrewd observations about our increasingly tech-enabled, corporatized lives, its heavy-handed mix of life-or-death exigencies and feel-good bromides finally feels like a case of more being less.
NY Daily News: Although the movie doesn't immediately crash and burn, it never, ever recovers. It loses some of its warmth, and most of its charm. And it ends up as nearly as cold and creepy as the space it takes us through.
The Guardian: Pratt and Lawrence have plenty of chemistry but his cyber-stalker actions kill the romance and the space peril is hardly pulse-quickening... On the positive side, Lawrence's apparently boundless screen charisma survives pretty much intact: she is an unmistakably vivid presence here in a way that few current performers can match.
Variety: Passengers is the tale of a lonely guy in space, the drama of an ethical conundrum, a love story featuring two of the hottest actors on the planet, and a turbulent sci-fi action-adventure — and for all of that, it manages to be not a very good movie. Lawrence and Pratt are both intensely gifted and easy on the eyes, and the film takes off from a not-bad idea, but the setup is way better than the follow-through.
The Playlist: It's the fault of Tyldum, whose "going mad" and "falling in love" montages don't have the urgency they need. These are bold screenwriting strokes and to do them right you need to bring the heat. Pratt does the best he can with his transformation over the course of the film, but his performance isn't enough. (Lawrence doesn't fare as well, but it's not really her movie, it's Pratt's.)
That said, the movie is propulsive and, if you aren't nauseated by the ethics, quite engaging. Not for a moment was I bored, and the look of the ship and its interstellar accoutrements are quite nifty.
Forbes: Passengers works as flashy, adult-skewing popcorn entertainment that stands apart from the pack. It has moments of action and peril, but it is mostly a drama that evolves into a grim romance that quite commits to being "about" its most interesting subject matter. It works because the film is gorgeous to look at, because its two top-billed stars command our attention, and because achieves enough of a rooting interest so that we care about the outcome.
Empire: Passengers is as surprisingly traditional as it is undeniably effective. A timeless romance wedded to a space-age survival thriller, it may be a curious coupling but Tyldum's Turing follow-up is a journey well worth taking.
IGN: Only actors as immediately likeable and emotionally dynamic as Pratt and Lawrence would be able to pull off a film that requires this much heavy lifting, and their easy chemistry makes up for many of Passengers' misses.
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