Science fiction often uses futuristic trappings to address current or universal issues.  In the case of Passengers, it comes down to a simple message: It sucks to be alone.

This movie starts with the starship Avalon as the main character.  The ship is taking 5000 passengers and 200-some crew -- all in suspended animation -- on a 120-year mission to colonize the planet Homestead II.   The ship maintains its course, adjusts its systems to changes, and keeps the sleeping people stable.
After the Avalon passes through a heavy meteor storm, passenger Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is awakened from his sleep -- with 90 years to go on the trip, and with everyone else still asleep.  With his only companionship the android bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen), Jim goes through the expected phases: trying to return to sleep, attempting to find out what's going on (though his engineering skills can't get him to the crew), indulging in on-ship hedonism, and even contemplating suicide.

As Jim looks over the information on his fellow passengers, he becomes interested in Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence).  Jim struggled with the decision whether or not to wake her: He could really use companionship, but waking her would leave her stuck in the same situation as him.  After bouncing back and forth, he wakes her up, helps her with their situation, and begins a relationship with her.  But what will happen if she finds out he woke her up?  Will anyone else awake early?  And what's behind the occasional glitches on the Avalon -- which are becoming more frequent and serious?
Passengers is an okay movie that never tries to do much beyond its basic premise.  While Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are fine actors, they don't have much romantic chemistry or stretching in their roles.  The best part of the movie is the opening, when we get to see a possible future where automation handles everything.  But two people stranded on a ship that seems to supply everything but what they really want -- to sleep until they arrive at their destination -- turns out to be less interesting or compelling that one would think.

Overall grade: C
Reviewed by James Lynch

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