ByEmily Browne, writer at
Twitter: @emrbrowne
Emily Browne

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you'll be aware that Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence have been relentlessly promoting their brand new sci-fi romance Passengers. From hurling insults at each other, to awkward talk show moments, the A-list duo have been doing everything in their power to hype this movie.

Ahead of its December 21 release, the critics have let loose their opinions in the last of the year's blockbusters — and it's not pretty. In a nutshell, the story follows passengers on the Avalon, a spaceship-turned-cruise liner on a 120 year journey to Homestead II — a new off-world colony. When Jim () and Aurora's () pods malfunction and they wake from hyper-sleep, they realize they are doomed to spend an eternity together wandering the universe. Romance ensues.

Well, the results are in, and it's not looking good. While some praise the movie's visuals and direction, others aren't so forgiving about the movie's plot and 'big twist.' These reviews are riddled with spoilers, so venture at your own risk!

[Credit: Columbia Pictures]
[Credit: Columbia Pictures]

Jennifer Lawrence Was Not Getting Much Love

Movie Pilot's Elle McFarlane had some choice words about Lawrence's character:

To say Barberella is a more developed, fleshed out intergalactic female character than Aurora Lane, would be an understatement. The clue is in the name. What screenwriter in their right mind gives their leading actress a name that sounds simultaneously like an adult movie star and a retirement home?

IndieWire's Kate Erbland felt a similar distaste towards Ms. Lane:

Aurora’s fairy tale name is somehow not the script’s biggest clunker; it’s laden with head-slappingly bad dialogue that even Pratt and Lawrence can’t pull off, like an exchange that sees Jim telling Aurora he was giving her space, only for her to respond, “Ugh! Space! The one thing I do not need more of!"

[Credit: Columbia Pictures]
[Credit: Columbia Pictures]

Pratt Didn't Have a Good Time of it Either

According to Robert Abele from The Wrap:

Yes, in one fell swoop, Passengers turns a likable guy into a mild stalker, then a de facto long-game murderer (think about it), and since Jim doesn’t disabuse Aurora of the assumption that her awakening is a malfunction like his, we can add spineless kidnapper to Jim’s list of violations as well.

The Guardian was not so keen either:

Regardless of what comes next – whatever redemptive heroics the screenplay constructs for Jim – he is still the perv who practically frotteured himself against a woman’s sleep pod before stealing her life to be his chosen playmate.

This might be my personal favorite criticism of Passengers, from Bilge Ebiri of The Village Voice:

Somewhere along the way, Laurence Fishburne appears: Yep, in a movie that is literally about two white people stuck in the vast nothingness of space with nobody else around, they still find a way to have a black guy show up just long enough to die.

[Credit: Columbia Pictures]
[Credit: Columbia Pictures]

The Movie as a Whole Was Not Exciting Anyone...

According to Variety:

What's lackluster about "Passengers" isn't just that the movie is short on surprise, but that it's like a castaway love story set in the world's largest, emptiest shopping mall in space.

See also:

Entertainment Weekly just call the whole thing stupid:

[The leads must] figure out a way to survive — and if sparks fly while they’re hurtling through space, well, all the better. That’s the way the trailer makes it seem, at least. And I’ll be honest, that’s a movie I’d kind of want to see. But that’s not what we get. Not even close. Passengers is way stupider than that.”

New York Daily News didn't pull any punches either:

Suddenly, what the movie wanted us to see as a sort of sexy, desert-island love story — two cute young people, marooned forever on a luxurious starship — becomes kind of sick, and stalkerish.

[Credit: Columbia Pictures]
[Credit: Columbia Pictures]

But It Wasn't All Bad

Empire called the movie "a journey well worth taking:"

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.

And Vulture thinks the movie is smarter than we are lead to believe:

Something of the movie’s true spirit can be detected in the face of [Michael] Sheen’s bartending android, Arthur. Just below the smiling surface he’s ironic, mischievous, dirty-minded. ... Only a corporate entity could deliver an ending like this one. But only humans could devise and enact the often delightful scenario that precedes it.

It's unclear whether these reviews will make a dent in the amount of box office bling Passengers makes over the Christmas period, but the amount of advertising and marketing this movie's getting means its likely to still do quite well. Having said this, from the reviews it's clear Passengers lacks the intelligence of and the heart of its biggest rival, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, leaving it as empty as the void Jim and Aurora find themselves inhabiting.


Are you still going to see 'Arrival' despite the bad reviews?


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