Monday, February 6, 2017

Katniss and Andy Dwyer on the Red Dwarf Titanic, or Thoughts on Passengers

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are arguably this generation's most likable actors; they each have an old-Hollywood amiability that is rarely seen these days.  They’re attractive but not eerily perfect, and use their natural comedic timing in self-deprecating manners to make themselves even more accessible to modern audiences.  So a big budget sci-fi romance adventure about two crazy kids alone on a luxurious space ship should be a no brainer, right?
Passengers (2016), is essentially Sleeping Beauty in Space.  Chris Pratt as nice guy mechanic Jim Preston wakes up too soon on a 120-year flight on the spaceship Avalon and is doomed to live out the rest of his life alone, and spends a year going slightly crazy like it's the Overlook Hotel in Space, until he falls in love with writer and rich lady (“gold level”) Aurora Lane, comfortably asleep in her pod.  Aurora is played by that girl who was hungry with the bow and arrows.  Of course he wakes her up, the movie’s called Passengers not Passenger, and you know, there’s future 3D Dance Dance Revolution dates, robot bartenders (Professor Xavier!), explosions, arguments, all the usual stuff.
The Spaceship Avalon is beautifully designed, much like the art direction and look of the film.  However the fact that it’s CGI and not a model takes away some of that wonder that audiences felt the first time they saw the Millennium Falcon, 2001’s Discovery One, The Nostromo, The Sulaco (I had the hugest crush on Cpl, Ferro) or even Lister and Rimmer’s Red Dwarf.  Models inspire childhood memories in audiences; bringing them back to last time they played with Legos or built an airplane.  But then again, maybe these CGI ships cause modern audiences to remember their first video game, so what do I know.
The creepy consent issues interfere with an otherwise adequate and entertaining movie, because that’s the world we live in.  It's interesting because that one aspect wasn’t depicted in the trailer, and could easily have been edited out in post. The fact that it was included adds a nuance and darkness to Chris Pratt’s performance, and is basically responsible for the movie’s current rating of 31% on Rotten Tomatoes.  There's also a disturbing friend zone/would you date me if i were literally the Last Man on Earth aspect to the movie if you remove Chris Pratt from the equation, but this isn't a blog about gender politics, it's a movie blog for people who like movies.
I expect that Rotten Tomatoes rating will go up over time.  Cary Grant clocks Katherine Hepburn right in the kisser in the first scene of The Philadelphia Story (1940), and that doesn’t stop that film from being in every critic’s top 10 list and having a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  As movies gain distance from the decades they were created in, future audiences focus more on performance and nostalgia, rather than politics.




my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).