Reel Reviews: ‘Passengers’ and ‘Jackie’

By on January 4, 2017

The bad future and good past

It was almost a certainty. My friends and family agreed. “Passengers” looked like a bad movie. Well, I went to see it anyway.

Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is a mechanic on a voyage to the remote, commercially financed planet of Homestead 2. When his cryogenic sleep is startled awake 90 years too soon by a meteor strike, he finds himself alone on the traveling vessel. Well, he’s not quite alone; he has the company of Arthur (Michael Sheen, “Frost/Nixon”), a cyborg bartender (Sheen’s performance is amazing) and 4,999 sleeping space travelers. After more than a year, he makes the decision to wake up writer Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). Let the love story commence.

To call “Passengers” a bad movie is a bit boring. It was an entertaining movie, yet I almost fell asleep in my seat. The movie had a bunch of “oh-here-it-comes” events that even the most inexperienced movie watchers could see coming way in advance. Predictable? Yes. Entertaining? For the most part. Worth watching? Well…

Ultimately-and this is in no way meant to take anything away from the talent of the leading actress-”Passengers” is a vehicle to show off the physical beauty of Jennifer Lawrence. Whether she is all wet in a pool wearing a white and sultry swimsuit, or half-clothed in a love scene with her fellow maroonee, the movie provides many glimpses of Lawrence that were previously left to the imagination. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is no NC-17 production. Heck, it’s not even rated R! It just feels like the focus of the movie is Jennifer Lawrence’s sexuality and beauty. Whether that is a good or bad thing is up for debate. Do I think she was being exploited by director Morten Tyldum? No. But, “Passengers” is no award-worthy story for the Oscar-winning actress (“Silver Linings Playbook”).

As for Morten Tyldum, this movie is a letdown. He last delivered “The Imitation Game,” which floored viewers and built a story within a story within a story, without overly gratuitous physical beauty (although Benedict Cumberbatch is no slouch in the looks department). Considering the caliber of acting and directing in “Passengers” I have to call this movie a fail. Enjoy the CGI space stuff if you want, but you’ve been warned.

Natalie Portman bears an eerie resemblance to former First Lady Jackie Kennedy in “Jackie.” (Image from vanityfair.com)

Natalie Portman bears an eerie resemblance to former First Lady Jackie Kennedy in “Jackie.” (Image from vanityfair.com)

‘Jackie’

I heard from reader Maurine O. of Maryland. She weighed in on “Jackie,” the pseudo-biopic starring Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy.

“It was really intense, actually. Natalie Portman was amazing. From the first second, the film was about her and her sorrow and anger. Anyone who’s lost someone close recognizes the look on her face in the first shot. The movie is an interview of sorts, where she is struggling to tell the story that she thinks needs to be told, so it cuts between the discussion between herself and the journalist and flashbacks and other footage. It doesn’t seem choppy, though, I thought they were nicely done and there were some really striking camera angles and effects.”

Sounds like a good alternative to “Passengers.”

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at SomeProMCU@gmail.com.

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