Friday, December 23, 2016

Passengers [2016]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C-)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (K. Turan) review (G. Kenny) review
AVClub (K. Rife) review

Passengers [2016] (directed by Morton Tyldum, screenplay by Jon Spaihts) is IMHO an excellent teen-oriented discussion piece even as it will INFURIATE and quite possibly OFFEND many viewers.

The premise is the following: The sleek and luxurious star ship Avalon is quietly hurling at 1/2 the speed of light, guided by artificially intelligent autopilot, on a 120 years voyage from Earth to another world called Homestead II, its 200+ crew and 5000 passengers to be kept in suspended animation for all but the last 4-5 months of the trip.

Well, 30 years into the voyage, the star ship encounters a freak meteor storm larger than its design specifications, partially damaging the vessel.  The ship's artificially intelligent operating system(s) quickly move to compensate, keeping the ship on-course for its destination and restoring, more-or-less the ship's other other functions, 'cept ... one of the passenger hibernation pods, that of Jim Preston (played by Chris Pratt) malfunctions, awakening him early ... 90 years early.   Soon to his horror Jim discovers that there's NO WAY for him to go back to hibernation.

So he finds himself alone on this sleek, ultramodern, glass-and-titanium, coffin-of-a-cruise ship/star ship with only an amiable android-of-a-bartender named Arthur (played wonderfully by Michael Sheen) to keep him company -- Robinson Crusoe [wikip] [IMDb] meets Lost in Space [wikip] [IMDb] ...

But, of course, Arthur's NOT "human."  (At one point, when Jim finds himself in an all-but-inevitable existential panic attack, the ever unflappable Arthur, calmly responds to his angst filled questions, noting: "Jim, those aren't robot questions, are they?")

This NEW _ADAM_ (Genesis 2:18), Jim is _increasingly tempted_ to ... wake-up one of the other passengers to give him company.  THIS IS, OF COURSE, THE BIGGEST MORAL PROBLEM WITH THE FILM ... BUT ALSO _EXACTLY_ ITS POINT.

He in GOD-LIKE FASHION _chooses_ to awaken a woman named Aurora Lane (played as ever wonderfully by Jennifer Lawrence) who would have been _out of his league_ in other circumstances (he a mechanical engineer, she a writer-socialite from a rich family).  By doing so, he, of course, CONDEMNS HER _TO HIS SAME FATE_.  SHE, like him, is now going to DIE on this ship before it arrives at its destination -- _HER_ DREAMS RUINED BY _HIS_ DECISION -- BUT HE will not be Alone.


It seems clear to me from a number of the reviews (above) that many would find Jim's action simply UNFORGIVABLE / IRREDEEMABLE.  But then without the capacity to forgive and perhaps setting-out (alone or together) to build a future different from the one that one had previously planned, perhaps we'd all find ourselves on a cold if perhaps comfortable COFFIN-of-a-star-ship inexorably hurling to ... NOWHERE / INEVITABLE DEATH.

IMHO, an _excellent_, thought-provoking film.

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