HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:88
Space, the final frontier. Well, mankind has once again done the unthinkable. We’ve overpopulated the planet, clogged it up with chemicals and now we’re looking to the stars for our hope in this big budget version of “Sleeping Beauty” in space (mixed with a little bit of “Days of our Lives” for good measure). “Passengers” was on the short list for instant financial success for Sony Pictures. It had 2 of the hottest rising stars of the last decade, a gigantic budget and the ever-popular situation of being in space. How could they possibly go wrong? Well, that bubble was burst when “Passengers” hit theaters a few months back and the word of mouth was absolutely VICIOUS. Critics thrashed the film for being insipid and ludicrous, and the money didn’t make back nearly as much as it was hoping to. I personally wrote the film off due to the incredible backlash, but was still curious enough to give it a spin when it hit home video. I can honestly say that it is not NEARLY as bad as the critical response made it out to be, but I can fully understand their frustration and disappointment in the end result. It’s nowhere near as epic or fun as promised, and this coming from a guy who thinks Chris Pratt has the midas touch for his film projects.
As I said, humankind is out of space on good old Earth. So, the decide to build a spaceship and send it out to “Homestead II”, a planet 120 years away by starship. There over 5,000 men and women are on board the spaceship Avalon, where they will begin to colonize the new world and allow more room for humanity to grow (although hopefully in the next few hundred years faster than light travel will be improved upon as 120 years between each transport both to AND from their new colony might be a bit on the slow side). Things are going along swimmingly until the Avalon runs into an asteroid field and collides with a giant asteroid, which ends up waking up one of the passengers. One Jim Preston (Chris Pratt). Jim is a bit startled by his pod coming out of hibernation so soon, and even MORE freaked out when he realizes that it’s about 90 YEARS too soon, meaning he’ll be dead and gone by the time the Avalon makes it to Homestead II.
A year is spent with nothing but the company of the android bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen) until Jim can take it no more. There are 5,000 other people asleep on this ship and he’s in desperate need of company. Focusing in on a beautiful passenger named Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence), Jim sabotages her pod and subsequently wakes her up. Being that he just stole her new life on Homestead II away from her, like his was stolen from him by the accident, Jim is loath to tell Aurora the reason for her sudden awakening. The two hunker down and try to make the best of a bad situation, and soon they are falling for each other. A romance that is soon to end, as these things do, when Jim’s lie of omission accidentally comes out. To make matters WORSE the damage that awakened Jim from his slumber has been insidiously creeping its way through the ship and systems are going dead left and right. Soon it becomes apparent that despite the tension between the two passengers, Jim and Aurora have to work together to fix the ship before it loses power and destroys not only their lives, but every other passenger on the ship.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93329[/img]“Passengers” tries so very hard to be an epic sci-fi adventure, but it’s mixture of “Castaway”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “Sunshine” are at odds with each considering how simple each of the three competing film styles are. The first act is what I dub the “Castaway” section, with Jim living alone for over a year on the giant ship, slowly going mad from the loneliness and isolation. But when Aurora is awakened, we start in with a heavy dose of “Sleeping Beauty”. A “Sleeping Beauty” story that is based heavily on a lie. This is really the crux of the problem that “Passengers” presents. We’re supposed to be rooting for Aurora and Jim as a couple, even though Jim literally stole her life away from her and she actually forgives him in true Hollywood fashion. I’m sure over time the reality of the situation would have sunk in (especially when it’s obvious that his awakening her made it possible for the whole ship to be saved) and thing could have worked out this way, but the whole thing is handled with the hamfistedness of “Days of our Lives”. Just in space. The romance is laid on thick and heavy, with syrupy sweetness and lots of lingering shots of Chris Pratt’s bare butt and Jennifer Lawrence’s side “nudity”. By the end, you’re starting to bang your head against the bulkhead as they both utter lines that make you wonder how the dialog editor actually got these lines approved, and the overly simplistic “life is what you make of it” message is heavily watered down to the point of being almost tasteless.
That’s not to say that the movie is some awful mess. Far from it. “Passengers” is actually a pretty decent watch for the most part, but you have to wade through the heavy-handed soap opera moments to get to the brainlessly fluffy sci-fi adventure that we all wanted. Pratt and Lawrence have some decent chemistry together (Pratt still wins by a country mile though, as Lawrence has been getting less relevant ever since the infamous “Hunger Games” ended), and the visuals of the ship are nothing short of amazing. The movie is really a two person drama for 99.99% of the time, except the last act when Deck Crewmember Gus Mancuso (Laurence Fishbourne) comes out of hibernation to give them the tools they need to actually fix the failing ship.
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, nudity and action/peril
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93337[/img]Wow, just wow. “Passengers” is not going to win my “movie of the year” review award, but the 4K UHD presentation certainly is going to be a heavy contender for picture quality of the year award. Shot on the Arri Alexa 65 cameras with a 6.5K source, the film was given a 4K master which GREATLY benefits the UHD disc. Comparing the Blu-ray to the UHD is actually almost a revelation. Everything that was spotless and amazing on the Blu-ray is just that much more beautiful and rich in 2160p. Colors are brilliantly saturated, with that amazing red dress popping off the screen like nobody’s business. Comparing the color levels to the Blu-ray I have to say that the Blu-ray actually starts to look less perfect than I thought. The fine detail and texturing available with the HDR and higher resolution had me drooling from beginning to end. My only COMPLAINT about the clarity is that there is so much CGI that looks SOOOOOOOO razor sharp that it almost starts to look fake after a while. Blacks are silky deep and full of incredible shadow detail, leaving no room for crush or other digital artifacts. Simply put, pure eye candy demo material.
The 3D disc is quite a pleasant experience for the most part, with an incredible sense of depth and layering to the image. The ship itself looks so real and amazingly detailed with the added depth and them running into the rock shower at the beginning of the film shows some incredible use of spacing and background layering is exquisite. Once you get into the interior of the Avalon we’re privy to watching the hallways stretch out in to the bowels of the ship and the metallic interfaces throughout the environment seem to almost pop off the screen. The downside to all this depth is a distinct lack of visual clarity, as the brightness levels are obviously much dimmer, and there seems to be a bit of smoothness applied to the film. Details, when compared against the 2D Blu-ray (and especially the 4K UHD), seem more subdued and fine detail took a slight hit.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93345[/img]If you're watching the 3D disc that's included in the 4K package, then it will come with the standard 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that is present on the 2D release and I will thus copy that in for you in comparison to the Atmos enabled track available on the 4K UHD disc.
Once again Sony has decided to keep the lovely Atmos track off of the Blu-ray and relegate a 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track to it instead (the 4K UHD version sports the superior Atmos track). Still, It’s quite an amazing audio experience nonetheless. The 5.1 mix is rich and full, shifting seamlessly between the quieter dramatic moments that take up the first two acts (punctuated by some more boisterous scenes here and there) and the aggressive action/adventure nature of the film’s third act without missing a beat. The dialog is quite intensive for a sci-fi movie of this caliber, and the first couple acts really tend to be much more dramatic in nature so the dialog is front and center the most important piece. Vocals are crisp and clear, without any distortions or abnormalities to my ear, and while it IS a dramatic track, there are quite a few moments that bring in the mains and surrounds to play around. The little echoes and pings as Chris Pratt runs through the ship hallways for his exercise bounce all around the sound stage, and the heavy thuds and clangs of doorways as he tries to get into other areas of the ship add more than enough excitement. There are a few moments of deep LFE here and there (usually oriented around the Avalon’s star drive more than anything), but it’s the third act that really brings things to life with a rousing score that utilizes all 6 channels and waves of bass pounding away as Aurora and Jim find a way to save the ship.
However, the The Atmos experience on the UHD disc is just what I would have expected from Sony. It is a a jewel to listen to and a definite step up in auditory quality as the extra channels "add" a little bit of information to the experience. surround usage is more uniform and directionality plays more of a key role in the diffusion of the background sounds as well. The intercom bursts onto the scene with more ferocity and the ship itself tends to "surround" you more than the 5.1 mix could. The core elements that made the 5.1 mix so stunning are still carried across with gusto, and the resulting blend of the more intense use of directional sound effects and cues make for an amazingly visceral experience.
• Deleted Scenes
• "Space on Screen: The Visual Effects of Passengers" Featurette
• Outtakes from the Set
• "Casting the Passengers" Featurette
• "Creating the Avalon" Featurette
• "On Set with Chris Pratt" Featurette
• Book Your Passage: Looking for a new life? Learn more about the Homestead Company. See what awaits you.
• Passengers VR Experience First-Look
“Passengers” was supposed to be this giant epic science fiction film, blending romance, heartfelt drama and adventure all in one film. It had two of the hottest Hollywood stars and a big budget to help them along their way. Instead we get a decent sci-fi flick that feels a bit too much like a soap opera in space for its own good. It’s not exactly intellectually stimulating, and the overarching “theme” that is narrated by Aurora at the end of the film comes across as overly trite and a bit TOO well worn. The 4K UHD itself is jaw dropping, with amazing technical specs and pretty decent extras to boot. The film itself is the weak link in the package (although it is NOT as bad as some of the theatrical critical responses made it out to be). While not a game changer in the sci-fi community, “Passengers” makes for a fun watch as long as you’re willing to wade through a bit of “The Days of our Lives in Space” if you get my drift. Decent Watch.
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Written by: Jon Sphaihts
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai DD 5.1
Runtime: 116 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Buy Passengers On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Passengers On 4K/3D Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Good Watch
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