Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) wakes up disorientated and groggy inside a hibernation pod, a hologram (Nazanin Boniadi) tells him that he is a passenger on the Avalon spaceship heading for the planet Homestead II.
That’s great news, and as an engineer he is eager to help build this new colony far beyond Earth. Unfortunately, he soon learns that he has been woken up too early. As his 4,999 fellow passengers remain hibernating in their forest of pods, Jim finds they are 90 years away from their destination.
He explores the beautifully designed ship that has a grand concourse, themed gourmet restaurants and the ultimate in infinity pools. For a time he can enjoy walks into space and the entertainment facilities on this cruise liner in space. Jim is even able to up-grade from his modest cabin to a sumptuous twin-level room, but he finds he is like a bird trapped in a gilded cage.
The only interaction Jim can enjoy is with the eager-to-please android bartender, Arthur (Michael Sheen). This doesn’t dispel his frustration at not being able to go back into hibernation - there has never been a fault with a pod, so there was no reason to provide a way of returning to it (as stupid as not having enough lifeboats on the Titanic). Neither, can he break into the main control deck, and the information points are worse than useless.
After a year of loneliness, Jim has grown a beard and turned into a slobbish Robinson Crusoe who is literally ‘lost in space’. The only thing that pulls him away from suicide is his obsession with the video logs of budding journalist Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). He agonises over reviving her from hibernation, but inevitably succumbs to his urge for human companionship.
Jim has to pretend that her revival is a computer glitch, and they have to cope with the fact that the ship’s systems are progressively failing. The system failures are due to an encounter with an asteroid belt, echoing the Titanic’s fatal brush with an iceberg. Indeed, Jim and Aurora can be seen as extraterrestrial counterparts of Jack and Rose in Cameron’s Titanic film, and for good measure we get a pinch of Wall-E, The Martian, Gravity, Silent Running and The Shining.
Thomas Newman’s score, Guy Hendrix Dyas’ production design and Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography makes Passengers a sumptuously entertaining Space Age romance.
The DVD contains featurettes on the Homestead Company, the casting and visual effects of Passengers, outtakes, how Avalon was created and Chris Pratt on set. They are worth seeing to appreciate how much work and skill goes into such a production.
PASSENGERS / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: MORTEN TYLDUM / SCREENPLAY: JON SPAIHTS / STARRING: CHRIS PRATT, JENNIFER LAWRENCE, MICHAEL SHEEN, LAURENCE FISHBURNE / RELEASE DATE: 8TH MAY