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Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

December 26, 2016

Passengers: A Wasted Chris Pratt Oscar Nomination

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There is no reason that Passengers had to be a mediocre film, and it is just that — mediocre. Though I certainly enjoyed parts of the film, there’s no chance I remember this movie next holiday season. That’s a shame because director Morten Tyldum’s film had a 110 million dollar budget and a star-studded cast.

Passengers is the tale of Jim Preston, played by Chris Pratt, a traveler on the Starship Avalon, which is voyaging from an overpopulated Earth to a budding colony world. When a collision with a large asteroid causes Jim’s hibernation pod to malfunction, he finds himself alone aboard a ship nearly 90 years from its destination — doomed to never see the Avalon’s destination.

Jim struggles with solitude and wrestles with the moral dilemmas that come along with having some degree of power over his fellow passengers. The opening third or so of this film is brilliant. Chris Pratt shines as his character crumbles in the face of his total isolation. It’s legitimately funny too! Pratt takes his character to new heights by charisma alone. I would love to see ‘Chris Pratt in Space’ played out to it’s end. And as you probably guessed from the title, I think that movie would’ve been spectacular.

Before I get negative about this film, I will say that it is absolutely gorgeous. The ship looks fantastic from every angle and the computer effects in general were a real highlight.

Unfortunately, when Pratt finds a companion other than Michael Sheen’s hilarious bartending robot, the movie goes downhill fast.

Going back to that budget, Jennifer Lawrence’s salary for this film was 20 million dollars. Before I start this train of thought let me say that I’ve liked Jennifer Lawrence in other roles and that my issue isn’t necessarily with her performance in this film, but rather with her inclusion. Adding Lawrence as a love interest only serves to muddle what was on track to be a strong film. Her presence kills Pratt’s exploration of solitude just as the audience is warming up to its complexity.

Before Lawrence’s arrival Passengers was a stellar Castaway in space. After she comes into play the film transitions into more of a science-fiction romantic comedy — two star-crossed (pun intended) lovers united by what seems to be pure coincidence. Later the film shifts again into something of a thriller, which I found very jarring. The second transition would have been acceptable had the movie omitted Lawrence. Chris Pratt being alone and then in danger sounds good enough to me!

I think this movie’s issue is that it isn’t quite sure what it is. It seemed like equal time was given to each of the three thematic pieces when each could well be its own film.

In the end, I didn’t hate this movie. Heck, I had a lot of fun at certain points but an overcomplicated story kept Passengers from glory.

Rating: six out of 10 bartending robots.

Nicholas Smith is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at nks53@cornell.edu