“Passengers” tells the story of a journey to a space colony of Earth, a private-owned colony. To transport people, they are hibernated throughout the 100-year journey. In the middle of the journey, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is awakened prematurely – 88 years early – because of a malfunction in the ship that becomes the climax of the film. After a year of being alone, he finds Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) and falls in love with her. He contemplates waking her to compensate for his solitude; after much struggle, he wakes her up. Eventually they become lovers. Much of what happens next are climatic parts of the movie: no spoilers here. This write-up is no a movie review, just a discussion of the remarkable themes. A family-oriented review is available in Plugged In.
- The idea of a space colony because of Earth’s “overpopulation, degradation, and expensiveness” was the background of the extraterrestrial romance. Wall-E comes to mind; however, in “Passenger,” Earth is still inhabited – the center of civilization. There is an Earth to return to; Homestead II, the colony, is like a planned city that needs new laborers. In Wall-E, only waste management robots inhabit the earth.
- Living alone is a mental and emotional struggle for man – “it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18)”. Comparisons with the story of Adam and Eve in Eden internally shout to me at every segment of the second arc.
- Aurora is a writer who embarked the journey to write “a story only (she) can tell.” Her plan is to spend some time in the colony and return to an Earth in the future. She becomes a spacewoman, an alien, and a time traveler: who won’t read her books? Personally, I want an experience that only I can offer also: perhaps a book in a year?
- The 5,000 passengers of the ship are not all “adventurers” like Aurora. Jim is a mechanic who is migrating to the colony for his dreams, despite a 25% earnings share he will give to the corporation for the rest of his lifetime. The situation made me think of overseas workers, especially Filipinos, who sacrifice their lives – their families and their dreams – for a fresh start to their lives and a hope for purpose.
“Passengers” may have low critical ratings (31% on RottenTomatoes) but tells a contemporary plot: the frontier of space is within reach.