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Filmspotting Message Boards => Movie Talk (Spoiler Edition) => Topic started by: smirnoff on March 19, 2017, 01:24:20 AM

Title: Passengers
Post by: smirnoff on March 19, 2017, 01:24:20 AM
Passengers - 9/10

This is why I don't bother reading anything before watching a movie. This was fantastic. FANTASTIC! What did I know about it going in? Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in space. Had I read any of the reviews (37% RT) it would've confirmed what my cynical mind suspected, that this was nothing but a generic star vehicle about two characters on a vehicle traveling to distant stars... and I never would have watched it! Man, I was so into this. Every element. The ship they were on for example. It was was so thoroughly realized! Like this might be the most ambitious and richly conceived space ship I've ever seen in a film. What an achievement of design! Vast, beautiful, functional, sensible, radically different! The ship in 2001 might as well be a flying log cabin by comparison. I don't mean in technology, but in detail and size and how much of it we get to see and interact with! Even the ship in Sunshine, which is outwardly a straggering thing to look at, is inside a pretty run of the mill space vessel (the payload room notwithstanding). Love the story here too... I thought every beat of it worked, even where it felt inevitable. I was so on board I would've let a lot go, but I didn't find I needed to. This movie flattens anything else I've seen from 2016. Looking forward to seeing it again.

Passengers is bad (https://corndogchats.com/2016/12/21/passengers-2016/). One of the worst I saw this past year, though I will agree the design of the ship is spectacular.

Our experiences were very different eh. When you say "the entire existence of Aurora Lane’s character is to serve the purposes of Jim Preston" I agree, in a sense. But not in the same sense I think you mean it. Jim did wake her up for entirely selfish reasons, so in that sense she is serving his purposes. By simply existing she serves that purpose (i.e. Jim is no longer alone). That's a purpose she cannot escape from, given the circumstances aboard the ship. But it sounds like you feel the film reduced her character further still... to a person with no other reason to exist. She certainly struggles to find another reason. I mean, like Jim, she starts out faced with the thought "what the hell am I going to do with the rest of my life". She's looking for purpose in a situation where no one has ever had to find a purpose before. She knows something nobody riding the bus has ever known. That she'll die before she arrives at the next stop. Her purpose was arriving. Now what is it? And I think that's what she sets out to write about. But they both flounder in this struggle to find purpose, which made me feel for them.

And I did not feel I could judge Jim's decisions too harshly. No more than I could judge Tom Hank's character in Castaway for talking to a volleyball. It was horrible but understandable. Selfish but human. Desperate and regrettable but would she or anyone else have done any different... sooner or later?

PS. Pratt's naked ass was the only gratuitous body shot I remember. There was no particular need to see his ass just then. It's not as though the audience had reason to believe he showered in pants, and that shot was to establish that he did not. It would've been more germane to show his ass while he in the public areas of the ship, since it was established that he traversed the ship without pants from time to time. Generally I thought the film was pretty indifferent towards that stuff, never showing much even when there was an opportunity. Shooting for whatever rating, but no worse of for it.

I was really on board with the film for the part where Jim is alone. Once Aurora wakes up, I wavered, but even then I was curious to see where it went. Ultimately, we aren't going to be on the same page with this one. As for the "gratuitous" shots, yes, Pratt is the only one to show nudity, but there are numerous times throughout the film where Tyldum utilizes the "male gaze" type shot towards Lawrence, which further communicated to my experience that her character was there to serve the purposes of Jim. We can discuss further in a spoiler thread if you would like. Don't want to go into too much detail here.

Please do. My reaction was somewhere between both of yours and I'm curious to read people discussing the most interesting aspect of the film.

So I definitely want to hear more on this subject because my experience was so different. When you say Tyldum utilizes the "male gaze" type shot... I don't want to act like I don't know what you might mean by that, but to me it seems like a very strong term to use in regards to this film. Did you feel it overstepped the needs of the story and waded into a area which was exclusively "let's show Jennifer Lawrence's ass because it's nice"?
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: DarkeningHumour on March 24, 2017, 09:20:37 AM
smirnoff, I read your review a while ago and I've been meaning to respond to it. I loved a lot of the sci-fi elements like you, especially the design of the ship. I watched the movie with an engineer who proceeded to explain to me how some things were just physically impossible, but that still left a lot of good ideas. And honestly, I was more interested by the economic aspects of the thing by that point. What I have to disagree with is the story. It's not that great. It begins as a stranded-alone segment, evolves into a weak romance and then escalates into fight-the-clock action. None of those elements are particularly well done, they're just serviceable. There are a few moral questions that punctuate the movie, but they're not treated in any interesting way. And you rated this higher than Fury Road, so I really don't get it.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: Corndog on March 24, 2017, 09:29:16 AM
Re: Male Gaze

In a way, yes, I do feel like it went into the showing off JLaw's body because it is nice. It was never really done to serve the story in my opinion. It's been some time since I've seen it, so coming up with specific examples may be challenging, but the sex scene, her swimsuit, and what stands out the most was her coming across the table at Jim. It also feels like its from some sort of male fantasy where you get to hand pick your girlfriend.

And then to DH's point, it raises interesting moral questions/dilemma's but never attempts to answer them. Jim's awakening of Aurora is entirely selfish, and to your point he was alone for a whole year, and that is tremendous strain on your psyche, but it's also essentially murder. I found the film sexist because of this point, and the point I made above insomuch as Aurora is there for Jim and Jim is never there for Aurora. She serves his purpose throughout the film all the way to the very end when it would have been some nice karmic justice for him to have to sacrifice himself saving the ship, but instead he makes it Or for him to save Aurora by putting her back to sleep in the medical chamber and choosing, after seeing who she is in real life instead of her "audition" video, after realizing what he had done to her, to sacrifice his purposes for hers, which was still to make it to the colony planet. Instead they don't use that technology and conceivably live "happily ever after" on the ship until they died before everyone else woke up.

This movie certainly has problems.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: DarkeningHumour on March 24, 2017, 09:37:04 AM
Would you find it sexist if a women had awoken a man instead?
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: Corndog on March 24, 2017, 09:57:50 AM
Yes.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on March 24, 2017, 10:15:29 AM
It's creepy either way.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: DarkeningHumour on March 24, 2017, 10:21:11 AM
Yes.

I don't think that can be viewed as sexist either way. The person wakes up someone they are romantically/physically attracted to. Pratt just happens to be a straight male. It's not about sexism and how we think about gender, it's about utilitarianism and how we think of others.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: Corndog on March 24, 2017, 10:25:10 AM
I suppose that is true, but you have to see that gender does play into it still. Because Jim is a straight male, he needs a straight female. He is not seeking out another male, or a gay female. Her gender is essential.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: DarkeningHumour on March 24, 2017, 10:28:34 AM
Sure, but sexism is about discriminating against one sex and thinking both sexes are not equal. He does not see her as less important than him or anything like that, he is just gravitating towards the kind of person he is attracted to. If he were a gay male he would wake up another male and you wouldn't be calling him sexist. He's not sexist, he is extremely lonely, and also a bit of a jerk. By waking her up he is saying that people are there to serve your needs and fill your emotional vacuums, regardless of gender.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: smirnoff on April 03, 2017, 03:05:08 AM
Re: Male Gaze

In a way, yes, I do feel like it went into the showing off JLaw's body because it is nice. It was never really done to serve the story in my opinion. It's been some time since I've seen it, so coming up with specific examples may be challenging, but the sex scene, her swimsuit, and what stands out the most was her coming across the table at Jim.

I guess my biggest problem with the criticism is that it is made so specifically against this film, when it is a quality ubiquitous in nearly all of cinema. Are you holding this film to a higher standard because the premise is creepy? While it may veer into moments which serve no apparent purpose but to gaze upon Jlaw in a swimsuit (let us not assume it is only males who gaze), the moments themselves are not particularly revealing. Less even than those of her male co-star. And little enough by today's tendencies.

But I do think these moments serve the story, or the intent of the story... as there is a need for audiences to see the desirability in both of these characters, so that may relate to the desires of the characters. In Jim's case, relate to his desire for company, and more specifically the company of an attractive other. They could have cast plainer actors, or made up and dressed Pratt & Lawrence in a plainer fashion... but while the two characters may still have found one another desirable, less of the audience would relate to that desire, and the film would have been more of a study of these particular characters, and reflect less strongly the audience's own impulses and desires.

As it was, Jennifer Lawrence is powerfully attractive, and so I was made to reflect on my own desires and the choices I would make in those moments were it me. Would that I could flip a switch and with equal potency see the film from Jennifer Lawrence's pov and feel her attraction to Pratt, and relate and reflect on the situation she finds herself in. I can, but to nowhere near the same extent.

Quote
It also feels like its from some sort of male fantasy where you get to hand pick your girlfriend

And then to DH's point, it raises interesting moral questions/dilemma's but never attempts to answer them. Jim's awakening of Aurora is entirely selfish, and to your point he was alone for a whole year, and that is tremendous strain on your psyche, but it's also essentially murder.

It's a new kind of violation for which we don't really have a word. Murder feels a rather strong to me. Though it does bring about a premature death or sorts, death is hardly the intent. Rape? It bears a likeness insofar as it lacks consent, but there again it's rather strong a word as there's no sexual coercion. The eventual sex is a product of choice based on a deception, not force. Common enough. It's a doozy of a lie though.

Given what happens in The Force Awakens did Leia commit a "murder" of the same degree when she thawed out Han? The context of Han and Jennifer Lawrence's freezing may differ in that Han was frozen against his will, where Jlaw chose it. But then again, Han chose a smuggler's life, and bounty hunter's are a hazard of that job. Han made a calculated risk in choosing his line of work, and Jlaw made a calculated risk in choosing to be frozen and traverse space for 150 years in a craft on autopilot. And once frozen, both Leia and Jim are responsible for choosing the instant in which the clocks of their frozen co-stars are to be restarted, thus determining the world in which will live out their lives (to the extent that they can see the future). As far as Jim knows he's dooming Jlaw to life on a ship, with the hope that he can counterbalance that limitation by being a person with whom such an existence might suck less (at least that's his thinking at the moment of unfreezing her). He does at least have the reasonable expectation that she will live a long life if she should choose it. Leia's situation doesn't afford her any such expectations. We never find out what her plan was had Jabba not seen it coming, apparently from a mile away. Thaw him out and walk out the front door? It seems it was not a very good plan as Jabba had time to get himself set up behind a curtain well before Leia comes in. Either way, Leia has no expectations for what Han's future may hold or how short it will be, but she can be fairly sure that the first moments of it will be pretty high risk.

To me it's a difficult and interesting question, and the movie benefits from exploring it rather than boiling it down to something which it only partly resembles. And that's only looking at it from the outside. The film allows us to also see the question from inside the head of the person actually contemplating doing it. The flaws and justifications. The good intentions mixed with selfishness. The loneliness and plain bad luck. You could write every day for a year and keep coming up with ways to slice and dice the situation. You may well go mad in the attempt, as Jim does to some degree.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: smirnoff on April 06, 2017, 12:51:57 AM
What I have to disagree with is the story. It's not that great. It begins as a stranded-alone segment, evolves into a weak romance and then escalates into fight-the-clock action. None of those elements are particularly well done, they're just serviceable.

The premise here is just what makes sci-fi such an exciting genre. It can push its characters to places no other genre can. New worlds, new technologies, new dilemmas. As much as it is "a stranded-alone" film, it's unlike any stranded alone film we've seen. The particulars of the situation add so many wrinkles to that would-be, well-worn path. What stranded-alone film before now has seen it's character this well provisioned? Stranded-alone films are typically survival stories. In this stranded alone story it would take deliberate action NOT to survive. He has unlimited food, a medical facility... his life is not in danger. So he's not so much stranded as situated. If it were a case of having to work to survive, I don't think waking up another mouth to feed would occur to him. But when you have all else covered, loneliness sets in. With everything the ship provides, games, a bar, sports, spacewalks, and great big ship to roam, all for his sole enjoyment, who could content themselves with that for the remainder of their lives? What would you do in his shoes?

Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 06, 2017, 06:01:23 AM
It sounds great when you say it, but as in most movies, the problem is the execution. I'm not sure how I would change it, but none o it was very compelling. The economics o that venture gave me more to think about than Pratt's character and the best bits were reliably the ones with Michael Sheen.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: smirnoff on April 08, 2017, 12:15:57 AM
It sounds great when you say it, but as in most movies, the problem is the execution. I'm not sure how I would change it, but none o it was very compelling. The economics o that venture gave me more to think about than Pratt's character and the best bits were reliably the ones with Michael Sheen.

I really enjoyed Sheen's presence as well! :)

What were the economic elements you recall finding interesting? I did find it amusing that for a year Jim had been eating economy-class grade chow, and then Jennifer Lawrence shows up and is getting a top class breakfast. It seemed like that class-based distinction really only extended to the first meal of the day though, because I don't remember the bar or restaurant making any differentiation. And there was no recreational areas off-limits to Jim if I recall correctly. They didn't dig into that part much.

Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 11, 2017, 04:40:36 AM
I spent a half hour after the movie geeking out with a friend to figure out the travel company's business plan. We came to the conclusion that it was insane and impossible, but it was fun to think about it.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: dassix on April 22, 2017, 08:24:56 PM
I read a lot of negative reviews before this one and almost skipped it because of that.  Thankfully I did not, as I actually enjoyed this film.  I could think of dozens of actresses and actors that would have been better than the Pratt and Lawrence - which would have helped with the execution. Darkening was correct, the execution was somewhat bad. 

"This lever I need to pull is too hot, don't worry I'll take off this shirt I have to use as a protective element."  -Because Jennifer is in the movie
"Why don't we wake up the crew to help?  There's no time!"  -Plot hole #1
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 23, 2017, 04:03:49 AM
The crew thing actually made sense. It would take half an hour just to get them up to speed.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: dassix on April 23, 2017, 09:32:55 AM
I just couldn't understand how they knew they couldn't spare those 30 minutes. At this point in the movie, they didn't actually yet discover that the reactor (insert their terminology) was going to blow.  Maybe I took his role as a mechanic and less of an engineer, where that problem would have made most mechanics go wake up the staff that understood those systems.  That one single, quick line in the movie seemed to be trying to hide a potential plot hole quickly.

The economics of the movie were very interesting as you pointed out, although they did not quite get too in depth as I would have liked.  If there was a different cast, slightly different execution, this movie could have been great.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: 1SO on February 27, 2019, 12:20:59 AM
Having read the reviews by Corndog (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=12547.msg857170#msg857170) and smirnoff (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=14226.msg866742#msg866742) I find myself in the middle. Pratt making the choice to wake Lawrence up is the core of the film and not one to be easily judged by a viewer. On one hand, I'm glad that there was time taken for Pratt to convince himself this is a good idea. He doesn't just see a hot blonde and wake her in the hopes of claiming her as a mate.

On the other, I don't think the film does a good enough job conveying the isolation and loneliness. At first I thought to do that the film would need to be much longer before introducing Lawrence, but Moon managed to hit those notes in less time. Pratt comes off like the first episode of "Last Man on Earth" which lessens the emotional punch of his decision. I noticed it when Lawrence first realizes her situation, she's bringing a lot more drama to her death sentence than Pratt did in all his time. The script includes thoughts of suicide, but Pratt does that scene and then moves onto the next. I didn't believe he had truly bottomed out. What was the biggest moment before that? Hugging the empty spacesuit? If the story were told right, there should always be the connection that instead of taking his own life, he chooses to doom someone else.

When Lawrence finds out, I was surprised to see it go all the way to her beating him up while he sleeps. (Again, I have no thoughts on if this is a proper reaction or an over-reaction. I believe this to be her reaction at that point in the story, which is all that's needed.) It seems a lot of time passes before Fishburne shows up, but the film rushes to where you don't feel they've been alone together for more than a few weeks. I'm glad the script didn't have him save her life at the pool to then have her turn and accept him again, though Fishburne acting as a reminder that life is short is also a bit of a cheat. I do see a way where Lawrence comes around on her own, but it would be much longer. I also think it works if there's no hint of forgiveness until the doors are about to close on her suicide mission. Again, it's kind of there in the script, but the tone can't resist tipping that you know these two are going to make up before the end credits.

The Producton Design is a marvel. That Oscar nomination is well-deserved. As for the comments above about male gaze. It's there, mostly in the swimming shots. I'm surprised Lawrence never gets a close up while she's hyper-sleeping, which is both creepy and typical of male directors who want to convey a woman's inner beauty by focusing on her outer beauty.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: PeacefulAnarchy on February 27, 2019, 12:30:34 AM
Yeah, that's about the middle where I ended up with the film. It's aware of the issues it's dealing with and knows it needs to be sensitive to them, but it doesn't quite sell them organically enough to keep you from reading any explanations as meta justification rather than organic acceptance.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: smirnoff on February 27, 2019, 01:54:29 AM
All very fair criticisms.

The progression of events does feel accelerated, I agree. That aspect puts a strain on the overall believably. On the other hand, zipping along like it does, I feel like we get further than we would have otherwise... and I like going deeper down this rabbit hole and seeing how this crazy situation resolves, at the cost of maybe not being totally convinced by the characters' decisions and their timing. But yea, there is probably some room there to improve and not lose anything for it.



When Lawrence finds out, I was surprised to see it go all the way to her beating him up while he sleeps. (Again, I have no thoughts on if this is a proper reaction or an over-reaction. I believe this to be her reaction at that point in the story, which is all that's needed.)

It's interesting imagining the film had it been from her perspective, not Pratt's. The film would begin when she wakes up.

Both her and the audience are unaware of the real reason her pod has failed. It proceeds like a rom com, up until Pratt's secret is revealled. She, and we, are horrified. And Pratt is now a villain in our eyes. Later Pratt dies when he sacrifices himself. And now alone on the ship Lawrence is faced with the situation for which she was so anrgy at Pratt. To be alone forever or wake someone else up. And somewhere in there we cut back to Pratt's time alone, and sympathize with a character which up till now we've been angry at.

In that way, Pratt's "Last Man On Earth" performance takes on a different quality. Regardless, it's still all there to contemplate.



Did you enjoy the scenes with Michael Sheen?
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: 1SO on February 27, 2019, 02:26:55 AM
Your switch of perspective brings up an interesting wrinkle. Wanting nothing to do with Pratt, she will go through the scenes of isolation like he did in the regular version. Only it will be completely her choice to live that way because he will also be alive on the ship somewhere. (I love the off-handed way she reveals being trapped in her room for two days, and he clearly knew nothing about it.) Pratt could become suicidal and de-evolve again, and she would have to make decisions under those conditions about letting him implode or forming some new connection while she's dealing with being alone herself.

Michael Sheen is usually such a ham, but playing an android toned down his usual tendencies and got some fine subtle work out of him. I like how he became the custody child when they separated. I also liked how they pulled off the scene where he malfunctions and beats his face across the bar with all the glass shattering. I watched it again and could see there were edits to a stunt double and back to Sheen (with the cut forehead), but it's very well filmed.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: Bondo on February 27, 2019, 04:35:31 AM
My review is here (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=14226.msg878828#msg878828).

I think the film took the ethical quandary seriously, and that's all I really needed it to do to get me to buy in. It's not some male fulfillment fantasy which would have been gross.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: Corndog on February 27, 2019, 07:29:16 AM
I have no problem admitting that it's possible I overreacted to the film in many respects, but I would also say that I am not curious to revisit it with a fresh perspective of giving it a second chance.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: 1SO on February 27, 2019, 09:40:32 AM
It seems the climate around the film at the time of its release framed it as a love story with a deep flaw at its center. Watching the film, what happens isn't really romantic because of the deception, but I can understand a Studio wanting to market a film with two attractive stars like they did. Like selling that George Clooney assassin film as an action picture, it confuses your viewpoint.
Title: Re: Passengers
Post by: smirnoff on February 28, 2019, 10:10:37 PM
Passengers (2016)

I had been put off this film initially because the key ethical dilemma had been framed as deeply troublesome from a gender perspective. In actually watching the film, I think it does a good job being self-reflective on the issue. Further, in contemplating this central decision, that of Jim (Chris Pratt) opting to wake up Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) out of hopes for a romantic relationship, I actually think it is justifiable. I'm sure Kant would be stridently against waking someone up for any reason, because clearly that person would be used as a means to an end. But as someone more generally drawn to utilitarian ethics, I reckon the benefit to Jim in remedying his loneliness is greater than what Aurora stands to lose. Importantly, the film builds their relationship so that it stands on a real chemistry and not simply the coercion of no alternatives. So ultimately this interesting ethical posture, combined with some neat effects made it a fairly satisfying bit of sci-fi for me.

Two alternatives that might have made this more palatable: have a woman be the first one awake and deciding whether to wake a man so that the ethical question is distanced from the legacy of patriarchal control; or have her contemplate waking a different guy.

Both would be super interesting. It does seem like a scenario you could keep running again and again and get a good movie out of it. That is, assuming the ship wasn't doomed, which it was.



How does one measure the ethics of a decision when in hindsight it saved the whole ship. Everyone would have died had Pratt decided to live alone (or commit suicide), because all the later malfunctions still would have happened, and no second pair of hands would have been available to help him. I get that that feels like a get out of jail free card, written into the moral dilemma, but is it really a that much of a cheat? I mean if you buy the ship malfunctioning to wake up Pratt, then is it any more of a stretch to say that many more of the ships functions would also go haywire later? How much is the writer really playing god?

In terms of Lawrence forgiving Pratt, I imagine that later reality of having avoided certain death probably played a part. I would love to have read that book she was writing, and get to the part where she covers all of that... and if she ever does fully get over it. Because it's a pretty big thing to try and get over.