Author Topic: Passengers  (Read 360 times)

smirnoff

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Passengers
« 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. 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"?

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Passengers
« Reply #1 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.
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Corndog

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Re: Passengers
« Reply #2 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.
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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Passengers
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2017, 09:37:04 AM »
Would you find it sexist if a women had awoken a man instead?
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Corndog

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Re: Passengers
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2017, 09:57:50 AM »
Yes.
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Passengers
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2017, 10:15:29 AM »
It's creepy either way.

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Passengers
« Reply #6 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.
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Corndog

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Re: Passengers
« Reply #7 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.
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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Passengers
« Reply #8 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.
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smirnoff

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Re: Passengers
« Reply #9 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.

 

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