‘Passengers’ review: Chris Pratt saves director from lackluster script

chris-pratt-passengers

Imagine a science fiction film starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s directed by Morten Tyldum (Intimidation Game) and written by Jon Spaihts (Doctor Strange). That sounds like a winner, right? Not necessarily, because that’s exactly what moviegoers got with “Passengers” with uninspiring results.

If you’re thinking about seeing Passengers, then here is what you need to know:

  • Chris Pratt plays Jim Preston, a mechanical engineer who is on a spaceship called Avalon. Its destination: a colony planet called Homestead II.
  • A meteor shows damages the Avalon, which causes Jim to wake from a state of suspended animation roughly 90 years too early.
  • Jim desperately tries to figure out a way to reenter a sleeping state while also dealing with extreme isolation. He has an AI robot named Arthur (Michael Sheen) to keep him company.
  • Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Aurora Lane, also is awakened midway through the film.
  • The Avalon begins to malfunction, which forces the two passengers (along with Laurence Fishburne — very briefly — as Captain Gus Mancuso) to work together to avoid a catastrophe.

This is a spoiler-free review, so I won’t go into many more details other than to say that Passengers is most intriguing for the number of missed opportunities racked up by Jon Spaihts. With a few tweaks of the script, Passengers could have turned into an instant classic. Over and over again the stage is set for a stunning reveal, only to inform theatergoers, “Nope. This is just a by-the-numbers sci-fi flick that will hit embarrassingly predictable beats by the time the end credits roll.”

If you decide to see Passengers, then ask yourself the following questions before the curtains open:

  • Will A.I. ever reach the point where it can become lonely and yearn for human interaction?
  • Would a company accused of treating customers like cattle ever engineer a disaster to see how the “animals” respond — perhaps as a way of garnering larger profits down the road?
  • If a character puts the proverbial “smoking gun” in a place where an individual would obviously find it over the course of a relationship, then that needs to happen — right?

Again, I note that this is a spoiler-free review, which means that asking the above questions only draws attention to the fact that Passengers explored … none of them. There are more, but for the purposes of this blog post we’ll stick to three.

passengers-trailer

In short, if you’re a science fiction junkie who needs a fix, then see on Sunday matinee of Passengers. It’s passable, but in many ways that is only attributable to Mr. Pratt’s likability and professionalism. He did the most with what he was given, but he wasn’t given much.

 

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Mystique ‘choke’ ads upset Rose McGowan, Fox weirdly apologizes to the world

Mystique Apocalypse choke scene

This blog argued on May 21st that modern feminism “is a congeries of contradictory rules and regulations, which allow elites to wallow in self-congratulation for behavior that would earn others condemnation.” Activist and actress Rose McGowan has lent credence to the claim less than two weeks later by accusing 20th Century Fox of encouraging “casual violence against women.” Her reasoning: An X-Men Apocalypse billboard showed the blue mutant villain choking the blue mutant hero tasked with stopping him from destroying civilization. Fox responded within days with an apology.

Here is what Ms. Mcgowan said June 2 to The Hollywood Reporter:

“There is a major problem when the men and women at 20th Century Fox think casual violence against women is the way to market a film. There is no context in the ad, just a woman getting strangled. The fact that no one flagged this is offensive and frankly, stupid. The geniuses behind this, and I use that term lightly, need to to take a long hard look at the mirror and see how they are contributing to society. Imagine if it were a black man being strangled by a white man, or a gay male being strangled by a hetero? The outcry would be enormous. So let’s right this wrong. 20th Century Fox, since you can’t manage to put any women directors on your slate for the next two years, how about you at least replace your ad?”

Activists like Rose McGowan demand “strong” women who literally knock out hulking men with a single elbow blow to the face — just like Jennifer Lawrence’s character in X-Men: Apocalypse. When they get exactly what they want, they still complain.

Jennifer Lawrence Raven

Jennifer Lawrence has punched and kicked her way through a gauntlet of evil men — often with a single well-placed shot — for three X-Men movies in a row.

Nightcrawler Raven

Now, however, activists like Rose McGowan are upset because a mutant on the verge of a world-wide holocaust had the nerve to choke his adversary. In the mind of Rose McGowan, normal Americans walking down the street are inclined to look at X-Men: Apocalypse ads and think, “Next time my wife gets out of line, I’m going to go full-En Sabah Nur on her because … 20th Century Fox.”

Sadly, the studio gave those fishing for an apology exactly what they wanted:

“In our enthusiasm to show the villainy of the character Apocalypse we didn’t immediately recognize the upsetting connotation of this image in print form. Once we realized how insensitive it was, we quickly took steps to remove those materials. We apologize for our actions and would never condone violence against women.”

Reasonable people know that 20th Century Fox is not condoning violence against women, but activists like Rose McGowan are not reasonable. Hence, the apology was unnecessary and unproductive. The swarm of perpetually offended bees will now move on to another target with increased drive and motivation.

X-Men Apocalypse choke Mystique

Tens-of-millions of people watched the various trailers for X-Men: Apocalypse. They witnessed female characters like Jean Grey, Storm, and Psylocke dish out plenty of punishment, and they watched a man like Charles Xavier get tossed around his own mansion like a rag doll.

Million of people saw the movie in theaters and watched Jean Grey deliver the death blow to Apocalypse. They saw Havok selflessly sacrifice himself for men and (gasp!) women.

Professor X

The point is this: Activists like Rose McGowan claim to be strong, but their actions prove otherwise. Worse, they think people are so stupid that they will equate blue mutants fighting one another in a superhero movie to surreptitious approval of spousal abuse, etc.

Do not apologize to them. Do not placate them. Activists who find reasons to complain after all their demands are met (e.g., Make more action movies where 90-pound women knock out burly men with a single punch to the face) should not be taken seriously. Tell them to take a hike and they will move on to another target. To do otherwise only fuels their madness.

Jennifer Lawrence takes break from demeaning foreign reporters to exclaim, ‘Hey, Trump. F– you!’

Jennifer Lawrence Trump FU

It was only a few months ago at the Golden Globes that actress Jennifer Lawrence essentially decided to embarrass E! Latin America’s Juan Pablo Fernández-Feo because stars can get away with being petulant jerks. That ordeal takes on a whole new dimension now that she used last Friday’s appearance on The Graham Norton Show in the U.K. to exclaim “F–k you!” to Republican presidential hopeful Donald “the immigration wall” Trump.

Here is what Ms. Lawrence said to prompt a U.K. audience to chortle and clap and howl in their seats like caffeinated prigs:

“I was at a concert that I heard he was attending. So I had my full security, I was like, ‘Find Donald Trump. I was adamant on finding him and making a video of me going, ‘Hey, Trump. F– you!’ I think he knew I was looking for him.”

This blog’s regulars know that I have not been a cheerleader for the New York billionaire’s campaign. I note that so skeptical readers will take me seriously when I say this: Wine-swilling elites who snobbishly talk politics and then bask in the applause of their shallow fans are exactly the kind of people who (understandably) fuel Mr. Trump’s campaign.  

Graham Norton

Brian Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse comes out on May 27, and instead of promoting the film for as many people as possible, Ms. Lawrence decided to alienate millions of potential customers. If someone wasn’t already paying me to review the movie, then I would not see it based on her behavior.

Note: It takes a special kind of buffoonery to get me to feel that way about a collaborative project. Congrats, Jennifer. I suppose it helped that James McAvoy (aka, Professor X), was there and lapped it up with everyone else.

Johnny Depp Jennifer Lawrence

Question: If Donald Trump is a boor, then what does Ms. Lawrence’s weird desire to scream “F–k  you!” in an unprovoked ambush make her?

If Katniss Mystique-Everdeen is correct about Mr. Trump, then perhaps her behavior is an instance where like attracts like…

Jennifer Lawrence Golden Globes
You have to glance at your cell phone because English isn’t your native language? Let me embarrass you in front of an entire room of people who won’t call me to the (red) carpet for being a pompous jerk.
For those who want a window in Ms. Lawrence’s soul, I suggest checking out her Golden Globes antics from January and her recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show.