'Passengers' has ripe premise but mixed results and morality

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive

Joining "La La Land" in Columbus theaters this week is another movie vying for the title of Best Pairing of Most Likable Actors.

But while Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are oh-so-predictably charming on the interview circuit, the movie they're pitching, "Passengers," has some major malfunctions, despite a ripe space premise and sheer star power.

Jim Preston (Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Lawrence) are (wait for it!) passengers on an interstellar flight. Their destination is an Earth-like world that they will help repopulate. They take the lengthy flight in suspended animation.

But when something goes wrong, Jim and Aurora awaken nearly 90 years too soon. They're the only two awake on the enormous ship. And all they have is each other.

I'll leave audiences to discover how this comes to be, but there's a moral dilemma with "Passengers" that is hard to brush aside. Suffice it to say that it's a plot twist that could only come from the mind of a male screenwriter.

Director Morten Tyldum tries to blend a sci-fi love story with a Kubrickian pastiche - "The Shining" and "2001: A Space Odyssey" are obvious influences. There are moments where it comes together, but more where it falls short.

Pratt and Lawrence both work well within their respective wheelhouses here to a point of predictability. Pratt at least gets to be funnier than he was allowed in "Jurassic World," and I'm always happier when Lawrence is onscreen than when she's not.

It's a desert island romance playing out on a spaceship, and there's a lot to work with, but there's a moral dilemma here that the movie doesn't fully answer. You can pass on "Passengers."


Now playing

2½ stars out of 4