Sleeping Beauties Among Passengers

 DATELINE:  Going Down with the Spaceship


Beware of starships where the crew is asleep at the switch for 100 years.

Passengers is an intelligent futuristic science-fiction thriller that brings us the torments of automated voices, automatons, and obtuse robots, which actually sounds much like the present.

The stars couldn’t be more beautiful or appealing. They are both Sleeping Beauties, though only one is Aurora—and played that part in a Disney movie too. We speak of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence who could carry any film on their personalities and looks—and do just that.

When a malfunction awakens Chris Pratt about 90 years before they reach their destination in outer space, he is alone on a massive space odyssey. Few young actors can play the surreality for laughs quite like Pratt who has an easy style that makes him appealing in adventure tales.

His costar is Jennifer Lawrence, also stunning and down-to-earth. They are thrown together like Adam and Eve on a voyage that looks a trip to Gilligan’s Island as told by Stanley Kubrick. Their ship is an intergalactic Titanic.

Their situation and moral decisions of Pratt’s character may be dubious, but seem valid. Also along for the ride as a Greek Chorus is Michael Sheen as an android on wheels behind a bar right out of the Overlook Hotel.

Clever references and parallels fit the story and compel its suspense. Only Laurence Fishburne in a valid cameo—and Andy Garcia in a walk-on are the other big names in the cast. Everyone else is a hologram for a few moments.

The film recalls many other spaceship tales, from Star Trek movies to the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey or even The Shining. The director Morten Tyldum appears to have studied Kubrick.

Charming actors and intelligent scripts tend to overcome most every movie issue. They don’t have to worry about this story; it’s delightful.