Passangers: Creepy to Say the Least

Written by Nelson Cumming

I was only a baby. My mum gave me a candy as she was strolling outside with her pram. I was happy. Just as I was about to take a bite when a bitter old man snatched the candy from my feeble hands. I cried. He bellowed ” Ha Ha Ha! That was as easy as taking candy from a baby!”

Passengers reminded me of that fictitious moment in my life.

Passengers was a great experience at the start. Then the central plot point comes to fruition. I saddened by it. It all went downhill from there.

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This is a perfect line graph measuring my excitiment level during Passengers

The best bits in Passengers are the setup and the chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence. The setup is that 5,000 people are in cryogenic sleep in space pods on a spaceship called Avalon as they travel from Earth to a new planet called Homested II (Homested I is not explained. Probably because adding a “II” to the end sounds smarter). The trip takes more than 120 years hence the cryogenic sleep.

Due to a system error, Pratt’s character wakes up from his slumber 90 years too early. He then tries to learn to live in social isolation. That is a pretty cool setup. There are a lot of ideas you could do there. Then it takes an awkward turn…

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Left: How the trailer markets the relationship between the key characters. Right: How the movie actually does it.

Pratt sees a girl in the hibernation pod (Jennifer Lawrence) that he likes and wants her as her social companion but knows that releasing her pod would mean living the rest of her life on the spaceship (essentally killing her). Being alone for a year and not being able to stand the loneliness…

HE WAKES HER UP!

That is when Passengers starts to suck.

Up until this point. I was surprised how interesting Passengers was. It has really good cinematography and set design. It was clean but not surgically clean while being futuristic but not going overly sci-fi.

The idea of being isolated on a ship was interesting and they could have explored the concepts and moral consequences of forced pre-determinism they did in Arrival. Or they could have saved that for the big reveal in the end (he wakes her up in the first act of the movie). It could of been a thriller cat-and-mouse story as well.

No. Instead they justify Pratt being a creepy dude. Essentially killing the Jennifer Lawrence character just to get a shot with her. In my opinion, that is a crappy reason for the unwanted social suicide.

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Pratt: “Screw your friends, you’re with me in a confined area for the rest of your life! I clip my toenails in bed hahaha”.

This movie really is a middle of the road movie with a layer of bad. The movie tries to portray itself as high-brow because it is set in outer space. Don’t be fooled by it. It touches on ideas that not only never materialize but get so wildly misguided that it is not funny.

Then the third act goes haywire. It devolves into punchy, punchy, smashy, smashy, screamy, screamy, lovey, dovey. You have seen the ending before in a million other movies. By the end, I was wondering what movie Passengers could have been given the great setup. *1/2

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Sully Movie Review

Genre: Drama
Year: 2016
Runtime: 96 minutes
Main Cast: Tom Hanks
Aaron Eckhart
Laura Linney
Main Production Company: Village Roadshow Pictures
Written by: Todd Komarnicki
Directed by: Clint Eastwood

sully

Written by Nelson Cumming

Sully is a movie based on the real-life event of an American Airlines incident where the pilot made an emergency landing in the Hudson River. It is a 206-second incident that was stretched out into 96 minutes which is greatly executed.

Tom Hanks plays the role of pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the person who decided to land an American Airlines plane on the Hudson River. None of the 155 passengers on board died, however, there is speculation that Sully and co-pilot Joe Skies (Aaron Eckhart) could have landed the plane safely at another airport. Both Sully and Skies have to prove they did the best possible server under the most unique and dire circumstance.

Hanks and Eckhart are awesome together

I was invested in both these actors roles. Eckhart and Hanks have good chemistry as they play off each other. After London Has Fallen, it is a sigh of relief that Eckhart plays a character that is treated as a significant player in the movie. Both actors didn’t overdo their roles, they were both calm and collected. Hanks was more stoic than Eckhart but Eckhart manages to be lighthearted at the right time and place. It felt that it was crucial to have both these guys together. I believe the movie wouldn’t have been nearly as effective if Hanks was on his own.

The Flashbacks were good, with reservations

Without getting into too much detail, there are multiple flashback sequences of the airplane landing of the Hudson River. I believe that was a smart move as each flashback added a new layer to the story and it is mesmerizing. The good and bad part of the flashbacks is there was a stoic calmness to the way it was handled. It was subtly tense. The great thing about that is it’s a different direction than if everyone was screaming, running around with their heads cut off (which is tiresome and repetitive). The sad that about it is that it undercuts it’s own narrative stakes. Speaking of stakes…

The Stakes. Didn’t work completely, but they sincerely try.

There is sincerity with the narrative stakes but I just didn’t fully buy them. That’s because the way in which Sully professionally handles the plane crash in the series of flashbacks made me believe that the outcome for the main characters was never in doubt. To be fair, “Sully” had the disadvantage of a story with no villain and story that people already know. I personally didn’t know about the real life story, but I knew the outcome was a given with 30 minutes to go.

Therefore I wasn’t biting my nails thinking and asking myself questions like “Does Sully win? Does Sully lose? Will he be seen as a respected hero? Will he be shunned by the media?” They do try to incorporate stakes several times without trying too hard. They did that well, but I couldn’t buy it. It didn’t harm the movie’s quality but it ultimately prevented it from being a classic movie people will talk about once the hype for “Sully” dies down.

“Sully” is worth watching for anyone as it is entertaining throughout, from the acting chemistry between Eckhart and Hanks to the multiple depictions of the plane landing in the river and the short running time of 96 minutes makes it feel short and sweet. The event may have been 206 seconds but “Sully” Stretches it out for 96 solid minutes. It would have been more interesting if “Sully” was released in June. Only the people who saw the movie will get that joke. ****