Review – Star Lord Meets Mystique (“Passengers”)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Star Lord and Mystique walk into a bar and… oh, you’ve heard it, huh? Mixing franchises and getting two charismatic actors together on screen is one thing, but have them do it with a classy sci-fi love story? Now that’s cinematic magic!


Space, the final frontier. This is the voyage of the starship/luxury cruise ship, Avalon. It’s 120 year mission is to safety steer its manifest of 5000 specially selected people on their way to an Earth-like plant dubbed Homestead II far, far away, ’cause our Earth has become yucky. BUT! Thirty years into the flight, things go a bit south when the Avalon hits a nasty asteroid field. A cataclysmic system failure begins, starting with a single hibernation pod opening early containing ace mechanic, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt).

Jim quickly realizes he’s all alone on this great big floating yacht, apart from Arthur (Michael Sheen), the android bartender. He tries everything in his bag of mechanical tricks to fix his hibernation pod, ask the ship’s on-board computers what to do, and trying to stay sane for a year, but he slowly succumbs to utter loneliness and despair… until he gets a horribly wonderful idea. Fascinated and more than infatuated with the sleeping beauty, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), he makes the painful decision to wake her up, blaming it on another ship malfunction.

Soon the two are sharing everything; he the fixer of things and she the worldly journalist and writer that wants to write a book of their experience. As the months slip by the two naturally fall in love, until that fateful day when she learns the ugly truth about her waking. But her hatred will have to wait as there’s another problem: a malfunctioned pod has opened and Flight Chief Gus Mancuso (Laurence Fishburne), dazed and suffering from hibernation sickness, has awoken. He has just enough time to tell the kids that the ship has a serious problem that, left unfixed, will break down quickly and leave them lost in space! And no Will Robinson anywhere to help!

Now it’s a race against the clock as the two must put aside their misunderstanding and locate the source of the ship’s prob’s and fix it… or else! Will they find the problem in time? Will Aurora forgive Jim for the heinous act of waking her up too soon? And how much does this movie remind you of Wall-E? With only a small cast of four, and no space aliens to fight, no epic battles to win, no evil villains to overthrow, and no other clichéd sci-fi movie plots you’d expect, you have to rely on two things: your actors and a darn good script. Thankfully, you have them both of them here.

Screenwriter Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Doctor Strange) just keeps this script pure and simple with an A to B to C story that doesn’t patronize the viewer with your typical killer aliens, dumb space virus, or robots going berserk, to convolute the plot. What you end up with is Pratt and Lawrence shining on screen as two ordinary people facing the harsh realities of their situation and making the best (and worst) of it. The two share such wonderful chemistry together that, even though you know they’re gonna end up together, you still enjoy the ride.  Director Morten Tyldum has things move along quickly, never letting the pace stall or get bogged down.

Okay, so the plot device of Fishburne popping up long enough to add the necessary exposition is contrived, but even his performance is real and centered. And let’s not forget Sheen as the android Arthur who just gives a stellar performance as your Cheers-type bartender without going all Shining creepy. AND there are no insect alien chestbursters, secret company plans to destroy the ship, or double-agents bent on world domination here! Refreshing!

Saturn 3 (1980)

All alone on a space station somewhere on Saturn’s third moon for three years, two research scientists are about to get the surprise of their lives in one of the worst sci-fi movies that came out of the 80’s. And this one starred legendary actors Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett, and Harvey Keitel. Oh, and a 7-ft robot named Hector.

It’s the distant future and, as usual, an overcrowded Earth is in trouble. It’s needs food, so a small experimental hydroponics research station is trying to come up with a solution. The station is run by Adam (Douglas) and his colleague and lover, Alex (Fawcett). The couple suddenly get a guest one day with the arrival of Captain Benson (Keitel), who has been sent as part of a project to replace at least one of the scientists with a robot.

Benson assembles the imposing robot (with no head, just a neck and two pointy eye-thingys) and names him Hector, telling the others that it can think and reason using a direct link to Benson’s brain. But while he’s building the mechanical beast Benson, who speaks in weird monotone clipped speech and talks using very odd words, is constantly trying to hit on Alex. Ah, but the crew doesn’t know that Benson is a really a homicidal sociopath who murdered the captain originally assigned to Saturn 3 and took his place on the mission!

Anyway, Benson uses his link to tell Hector about his lust for Alex, but Hector goes berserk, killing Sally the dog and then Benson. Then we have the usual chase scene with Adam and Alex trying to outwit and destroy the robot, which they almost manage to do, but Hector is sneakier than they thought. Now possessing the mental smarts of Benson, Hector takes over Saturn 3 and makes his demands to Adam and Alex. But Adam, ever the gallant old man that he is, decides that chivalry isn’t dead – but Hector ought to be –  and sacrifices himself by blowing up the robot to save Alex. Awwwwww. Ain’t that nice?

This movie sucks. John Barry came up with the ho-hum story and wanted to direct, having never directed a movie before. He was SO bad that Kirk Douglas started to take the film away from him and direct the movie himself. Eventually, legendary director Stanley Donen was called in to replace Barry, but it was too late, as the damage was done. The studio even dubbed Keitel’s lines with actor Roy Dotrice because Keitel has too much of a Brooklyn accent in his voice!

There is no chemistry between Douglas (64-years-old) and Fawcett (33-years-old) and, let’s face it, it’s a little creepy to see these two having sex together. And then there was the awful script by Martin Amis (his only screenplay) which sounds like really bad fan-fiction written by a 13-year-old. No structure, no purpose, terrible dialogue, cheesy SPFX, a laughable soundtrack, and mix all that with the actors looking like there were rehearsing, and not acting, makes this one trainwreck of a movie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.