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Passengers

676 words / 4:30

Minor spoilers

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Passengers, directed by the Norwegian Morten Tyldum, is the best science fiction movie of the current season, so if you have seen Rogue One or are simply skipping it, you have an even better option. Passengers is something quite rare: a science fiction film that is entirely fresh and new, not part of a series, and not a reboot, remake, or rip-off of other films. Passengers has a unique and gorgeous visual style, interesting music, and first rate acting — and it tells a fascinating story.

Passengers is set on the starship Avalon, which is transporting 5000 colonists to a new planet, Homestead II. The passengers and crew are in hibernation for the 120-year journey, but one of them, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) wakes up after only 30 years and has no way of getting back to sleep. At first, he decides to enjoy the luxurious lifestyle offered by the starship. But after a year, he is going mad with loneliness, so he awakens Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence), a sleeping beauty with whom he has fallen in love.

I found Passengers to be engrossing because, despite all the sci-fi trappings, it is essentially mythic. First of all, it calls to mind Adam and Eve. Then it folds in elements of Sleeping Beauty and Robinson Crusoe. But the most subversive and unsettling myth it recapitulates is the rape of the Sabines and similar stories about men in a state of nature kidnapping brides. Aurora falls in love with Jim, but she is also outraged by in effect being abducted by him. In the end, though, they have to stick together “for survival” (as Pratt’s character says in Jurassic World).

Passengers is also a recapitulation of European emigration and the American frontier in space, including the tensions between old world and new, or “back East” vs. the “wild West.” The Avalon is the epitome of technological civilization, including some Titanic (or RMS Titanic) hubris. Aurora also epitomizes civilization. She is a writer from New York City. Jim, however, is a mechanic from Denver. On the Avalon, Jim is in the equivalent of steerage, and in her old world, Aurora would have never noticed him. Jim, however, is needed on the frontier — he wants to live in a world in which his abilities to fix and build things matter — whereas Aurora is only going as a tourist. The frontier, however, subjects civilization to crises that can be mastered only by a rougher breed of men, like Jim, whose heroism and technological mastery save the day.

Passengers, in short, is a deeply paleomasculine film, and Chris Pratt again plays the heroic alpha male to perfection. Jennifer Lawrence’s Aurora, by contrast, is largely passive. First, she is a princess being wooed. Then she is a princess in a snit. But then the frontier comes crashing in, and she no longer has the luxury of lounging about. So, like many generations of frontier women before her, she finds it in herself to fight like a fury for survival.

Passengers is an overwhelmingly white film, both in its story and lead actors. (There is a brief appearance by Laurence Fishburne.) Its Faustian, man-against-adversity in space theme reminded me of The Martian. The spareness of a movie with such a small cast, its careful lingering over motives and moral questions, and its occasionally leisurely pace might annoy some viewers, but I found it completely engrossing. Some might feel that the action sequences near the end are pat and manipulative, but they had me on the edge of my seat. Because this is a fairy tale, of course they live happily ever after.

The reviews from the lying press have not been good, and Rogue One is hogging the spotlight. Passengers must be seen on the big screen, so see it while you can. Drag the normies to it after Christmas. Then recommend it far and wide. A movie this good deserves to do well.

 

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12 Comments

  1. Quicksilver75
    Posted January 7, 2017 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Sound review. This was a surprisingly good film. The surprise of the season.
    Destined to be a cult classic.

  2. Tom Osborne
    Posted January 7, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    This review is a great example of why Trevor Lynch is my favorite movie reviewer. He really dives deep and obtains the true essence of a film, which no one else I know does as well, and most reviewers get stuck over the shallowest of surface details. Regarding this movie, it was amazing to see how the gaggle of poor reviewers were derailed by the fact that the male lead in the film had awakened the female to “her sure death” (which ended up not being the case at all; his awakening the female actually rescued her from a sure death and his efforts combined with hers rescued nearly every single person on board the ship). To hate and trash a movie because one believes that what the main character does is despicable is insane…because they love the “Godfather” movies and movies about every other kind of criminal or unethical character, but somehow an “Adam” figure awakens for himself an “Eve” (demonstrating to all the SJWs that the “American white male rape culture” gets rewarded) and the movie is now worth 1 1/2 stars instead the 5 that it deserves.

    Yes, I, too, felt an “Adam and Eve” vibe here. Throughout all of Jim’s agonizing over how to prevent himself from awakening her but nevertheless was helpless against that force and went ahead and did it anyway, what kept going through my head was “…and God saw that Adam was lonely in Eden and needed a companion, so God created Eve.” And gee whiz, look what happened…SPOILER HERE, so stop reading this paragraph if you need to…they went on to be the saviors of the colonizers of a whole “Edenic” world and you can bet Aurora wrote all about everything in her book that the entire new planet will be reading for an eternity as the first chapter in that planet’s existence. She so much wanted to be read, well, she managed to beat Noah and everybody else you could think of regarding “being read”.

    And, too, there was the Sleeping Beauty aspect, and also Snow White (because Snow White had been placed behind glass) and let us be clear, Jim DID rescue Aurora, just like any fairy tale prince. Mythically, this is the awakening of your animal connection with your soul, and how many liberals are in desperate need of being awakened to their souls, but they resist it.

    Watching this movie, I was thinking that this was the world’s greatest cruise ship, that it would have been funny if Royal Caribbean has been the one to build it, meaning that they continued their current process of building bigger ships that are like floating cities. I was fascinated by all the ideas of the technology and the programming of automatic systems. Having been a programmer, myself, I was enjoying that aspect, but despite all their efforts, I was horrified by the lack of quite enough safety features. Technological hubris still lives, despite, say, launching rockets with suspected faulty o-rings, and if you want to see how old that hubris is, check out the true story of the Swedish “Wasa Ship”.

    Trevor is right to think of this ship as being a “Titanic”, apparently without enough “life boats”. For the Homestead III mission, they will have systems in place whereby people CAN be awakened (such as special crew members or engineers, etc.) and that there will be the ability to put anybody back to sleep, as well. I can imagine that they might even have rolling “awake” duties; a skeleton crew on watch duty (let’s say 5 people volunteering from among the crew and passengers, to get paid for it, of course) for a year while all the other thousands are asleep; only one year of duty per group of 5 for the whole voyage. Here’s an interesting aside…I learned than with our planet’s current day “post Panama Canal’ ocean-going cargo container ships, the journey is so automated that they make do with crews of around five, total.

    So I was getting off on all the automatic processes and the programmed voices and the conversations with Arthur, the bartender, who seemed perfect to me, just loaded with all the friendly semi-psychologist small talk that bartenders need, but not a lot much beyond that. Nicer than Siri! And I enjoyed the certain cuteness involved in, say, the little machines that cleaned up the floor; how a “personality” in action can be programmed into a machine. So, fine, we had the Star Wars robots and Wall-E before this, and way before that, the little robots that were in another “transporting life to a new colony” movie, in this case, Earth’s forests, in another of my favorite science fiction movies, “Silent Running”, but “cute androids” is a theme that I still enjoy. And, oh yeah, another one that I liked a lot in a movie that most people hated (but not me), was the “gay bureaucrat android”, “Advocate Bob”, in “Jupiter Rising”. He got my mind spinning off on the idea of the meaning of a “gay android”, and that section of the “Steampunk Bureaucracy” was worth the price of admission.

    Yet one other movie this one brought to mind was “The African Queen”, which my father had told me was his very favorite movie. After he told me that, I rented it and saw exactly why he could relate to it–he, himself, was very much like the able and resourceful Humphrey Bogart character, and my mother was very much a princess, but together they forged an unbreakable bond of love and accomplishment in the face of serious odds. It is a classic theme of gender roles that I think is always good.

    Amazing how many of the liberals who hated “Passengers” felt that Aurora should have killed Jim in his sleep in punishment for his awakening her and proving, therefore, that feminists are superior. That’s great advice for liberals, I think; perhaps their women should follow it!

  3. Simon in London
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    I saw it, thought it was very good and raised a lot of interesting moral questions. Then I read the hugely negative reviews…

    It is practically an Alternative Right film by today’s standards. Definitely worth seeing.

  4. Lew
    Posted December 31, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    This was a good film featuring wholesome entertainment. I can see why the mainstream critics despise it. It has attractive white characters in traditional masculine/feminine roles, with the white male, in effect, sweeping the female off her feet and saving the day with his reality-based skill set, courage and heroics. The critics didn’t see any degeneracy, perversion, black physicists, miscegenation or white racists or white dorks. So there was nothing for them to like.

    (In other cultural developments, based on the trailer for the new Spiderman movie, it looks like Hollywood decided to cast a black female as Peter Parker’s girlfriend Mary Jane Watson. So, yet another white character goes down, and it appears that Hollywood is now branching out into promoting white male / black female race mixing.)

    I’m beginning to like this actor Chris Pratt a lot. It turns out, interestingly enough, that Chris Pratt is a devout Christian. I did not know this. Apparently, Jews in the entertainment press didn’t like it very much when Pratt built a giant cross for Easter on private property. I guess Christians practicing their religion on private property is now a problem for the Jews. Anyway, I agree that most readers here will likely enjoy Passengers.

  5. Abba
    Posted December 25, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Watched the movie after reading the review here. Was not disappointed. I hadn’t read the negative reviews until after I watched it and I was struggling to understand what one could fault the movie for. It is now one of my favorite movies of all time.

    The SJWs got their marching orders: hate the movie under all circumstances. Every negative review is the (((media))) exposing itself yet again, its credibility cracking and crumbling under the weight of reality.

  6. Richard
    Posted December 23, 2016 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a good movie

  7. Sam
    Posted December 23, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I saw this movie upon your recommendation. Got me right in the feels. The ending was haunting.

  8. Posted December 23, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    The spareness

    I think you mean sparseness… Or maybe *sparsity*….

  9. jacobsson
    Posted December 23, 2016 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Greg, do you have an audio only RSS feed? The ones my podcast app finds are either audio and blog posts or audio that hasn’t been updated. Thanks

  10. Reinhard Wolff
    Posted December 23, 2016 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Fantastic review, Gre- Trevor.

    I rarely see movies anymore, but you convinced me to see Passengers tonight and I was not disappointed!

    One can certainly understand the discomfort Passengers has generated among feminists and other liberals – in particular, how “her [Aurora’s] gutsy spirit turns to mush late in the proceedings.” [from Ann Hornday’s review in the WaPo.]

    For Aurora’s willingness to stick around with Jim after realizing what he did constitutes the triumph of biology (and to an extent, circumstance) over feminist ethics and unrealistic notions of “acceptable” gender dynamics.

    One can only help but wonder what the “correct” course of action would have been for Aurora to take from a feminist perspective. Was she to remain aloof and become a cat lady in space, sulking around the ship for the remainder of her life? Or perhaps it would have been less problematic for her to have simply let Jim die in space as she lectured him on the importance of consent.

  11. Nestor
    Posted December 22, 2016 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    Thank you. Now this is the kind of movie review for which I come here, and which makes sense in light of traditionalist/alt-right values — the kind that celebrates films which are anti-feminist (and therefore civilizational rather than dyscivic).

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