For a genre keen to push boundaries, science fiction rarely ventures into new territory. The majority of recent sci-fi movies tend to be derived from popular books or established franchises, making the original story of 2016's Passengers a refreshing surprise.
Unlike the ship of the Avalon itself, #Passengers doesn't exist in a vacuum. During the production process, director Morten Tyldum and scriptwriter Jon Spaihts decided to pay homage to a number of sci-fi classics old and new.
While some are more subtle than others, there are a whole host of Easter Eggs and iconic movie references to be unearthed in Passengers. So join us as we explore how Star-Lord took a shining to Sleeping Beauty on the Ship of Dreams.
Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)
Key among these are the surprising similarities between Star-Lord and Pratt's character Jim in Tyldum's film. Sure, Jim isn't living his life as recklessly as this galactic guardian, but the two share a working class attitude, tackling their problems in a very grounded, logical way.
Speaking to Pop Inquirer about his role in Passengers, Pratt described Jim as:
"Kind of a throwback, very much a working class guy. He’s considered a desirable trade, as a mechanical engineer, because he’ll be helping to start a civilization. If something breaks, he’ll be there to fix it. He’s a problem solver by trade, so he’s trying to figure out how to get back to sleep or contact somebody for help. And then, it turns out that there’s something very wrong with the ship.”
Throw in some womanizing with a dash of retro dancing and it turns out that Pratt is basically describing a more civilized version of Peter Quill. Just imagine the chaos that Star-Lord could cause on a ship like Avalon.
The Shining (1980)
It may seem like a random comparison, but from the moment we got a glimpse of the first Passengers trailer, it became clear that Tyldum drew inspiration from director Stanley Kubrick. However, while some visual similarities can be found between Passengers and Kubrick's sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, Passengers significantly pays homage to Kubrick's stab at horror.
In The Shining, Jack Torrence shares a number of chilling encounters with a ghostly man known only as Lloyd the bartender, unloading his problems over a few drinks. It's no coincidence that Pratt's character in Passengers visits a rather familiar bar to talk through his issues with a robotic bartender called Arthur.
During our interview with Tyldum he explained these parallels in more depth:
“The most important thing between Chris and the bartender is: what choice should Chris make? It descends into some sort of madness which is happening to him at this time.” Which is to say, Pratt’s character is contemplating that big decision he’s not supposed to make, and conversations with the bartender don’t exactly dissuade him."
Both Jack Torrence and Jim are driven to madness through the pain and fear of isolation — although, one of the two ends up taking matters to further extremes.
Notice also how the color schemes and patterns made iconic in The Shining have been adapted and sometimes inverted in the ship's bar? This includes the coat that Michael Sheen's character wears, although Tyldum maintains that:
“Of course, Michael Sheen’s character is very different than the one in The Shining.”
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
While aspects of Jim's character may be similar to extreme characters such as Star-Lord and Jack Torrence, #JenniferLawrence's heroine shares her name with a far more wholesome figure: Sleeping Beauty's Princess Aurora.
The story of Sleeping Beauty has been passed down for more years than the duration of Avalon passengers' hypersleep, but Aurora's plight was arguably made most famous by Disney's adaptation in 1959. The parallels between the two women are clear, with both Auroras falling into a deep sleep and both being awoken by men. The only difference is that while one Aurora found her happy ending upon waking, the other had to fight for her survival.
Speaking of Disney, there's a rather poignant moment in Passengers that echoes one of the studio's most iconic love scenes.
Soon after awaking, Aurora asks Jim if his plans to venture out on a space walk are safe. Later, once the pair make it outside the spacecraft, Jim asks Aurora if she trusts him, reminding us of the moment when #Aladdin first takes Jasmine on a magic carpet ride.
While Aladdin plans to show the princess a whole new world, Aurora is treated to the sight of an entire galaxy. Bet Jasmine wishes she'd passed on that street rat now.
That touching moment of trust also brings to mind the epic voyage of the Titanic in James Cameron's masterpiece. Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack asks Rose a very similar question, right before they climb the bow of the ship and unite as king and queen of the world.
The line, "You die, I die," from Passengers is also reminiscent of Titanic's, "You jump, I jump," proving that the two films share more than just the plot point of a romantic love that's doomed to fail onboard a ship.
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Passengers may claim the same DNA as other classics of the genre, but Tyldum's sci-fi love story remains its own unique film. You could sleep for decades or journey to the other end of the galaxy, but you'll still struggle to find a film that combines romance, humor and action quite like this.
Which Chris Pratt would you rather hypersleep with?
[Source: Pop Inquirer. Poll Image Credit: Colombia Pictures]