Sunday, July 15, 2018
Things To Do

Review: 'Passengers' has attractive star power but loses its way

There are worse people than Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt to be stranded with in outer space, and better ways to spend time with them than the third act of Passengers.

This is science fiction needing more work on the fiction part, an intriguing premise running its course halfway through. Passengers is too smart for starters to devolve into green screen spectacle relegating its attractive stars to unconvincing gapes.

Pratt plays Jim Preston, one of thousands traveling in suspended animation aboard Avalon, a space cruise ship heading to Homestead II, a corporatized planet colony. The trip takes 120 years but a meteor collision causes Jim's sleep pod to malfunction, waking him 90 years too soon. He'd likely die alone except for Arthur (Michael Sheen), a sympathetic android bartender.

Director Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) establishes Jim's predicament with a light touch, a solitude fantasy in futuristic luxury. Jim can do whatever he wishes in the Avalon's vacation-style settings except eat gourmet food; he bought the economy package. After a year, staying drunk, playing basketball and Dance Dance Revolution alone takes its toll.

So far, so entertaining. Then screenwriter Jon Spaihts tosses an ethical grenade. Jim's attempt to fix his pod teaches him how to awaken someone else. He has his eye on Aurora Lane (Lawrence), a sleeping beauty he "stalks" for months. Jim would essentially be murdering her, so she could never know. Arthur won't tell.

Aurora is awakened, and another love story begins with a lie. Passengers regains its earlier lightness — date nights, romantic space walks, sex — but with an interesting shadow on Jim's character. He's the closest thing to a villain in this movie. There's only one direction this relationship is headed, and it isn't Homestead II.

Lawrence and Pratt's chemistry is undeniable, both playing well off Sheen's robotic wit. But instead of settling Jim and Aurora's situation — the same conclusion would work — Tyldum remembers he's making sci-fi so CGI attention must be paid, sending Passengers out of its orbit. A crew member (Laurence Fishburne) awakens, adding little to the story except a tell-tale cough.

Passengers turns ordinary then silly, with an inferno to be tamed and a survival tactic as dumb as Indiana Jones ducking into a refrigerator to dodge an atomic blast or Helen Hunt tied to a water heater living through a twister. Tyldum proves he has watched Gravity. Blink and you'll miss Andy Garcia.

It's disappointing because until that third act, Passengers is accomplished eye candy, not only Lawrence and Pratt but the Avalon's helix exterior and lavish interiors, one of the most striking spaceship designs in memory. The Avalon will be dry docked after this. It'd be a shame if two of our most attractive acting talents don't get another chance together.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

Comments
Gold medal rounds at the water polo UANA Junior Pan American Championships

Gold medal rounds at the water polo UANA Junior Pan American Championships

Teammates from the Canadian women's team surround head coach Davis Paradelo after defeating Brazil during women's gold medal round in the 2018 UANA Junior Pan American Championships at the Long Center in Clearwater on Sunday, July 15, 2018. Members o...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Monday, July 16

TODAYBaseballHome Run Derby8 p.m.ESPN; 620-AMLacrosse, World ChampionshipCanada vs. Iroquois Nationals2 p.m.ESPNUNBA summer leagueSemifinals8:30 p.m.ESPN2Semifinals10:30 p.m.ESPN2...
Updated: 5 hours ago
New podcast: Anti-buddy flick ‘Midnight Run’ turns 30

New podcast: Anti-buddy flick ‘Midnight Run’ turns 30

Midnight Run, probably the best road movie of the '80s, is now 30 years old. Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin gave us one of the best anti-buddy flicks of our time, so our podcast hosts gather to honor the film – and Spearsy continues to work ...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Sunday, July 15

TODAYAutosIndyCar: Honda Indy Toronto3:30 p.m.NBCSNBaseballPhillies at Marlins1 p.m.FSFYankees at Indians1 p.m.TBSRays at Twins2 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMFutures All-Star Game4 p.m.MLBCyclingStage 96:30 a.m.NBCSNGolfPGA Europe: Scottish Open10 a.m.GolfPGA ...
Published: 07/14/18
This Florida burger joint is one of the 10 best in America, travel website says

This Florida burger joint is one of the 10 best in America, travel website says

A 2½-hour drive south could land Tampa residents at one of America’s best burger joints, according the review and travel website TripAdvisor.com.The website released a list of the "10 Most Delectable Burger Joints" in America on Wednesday, placing Na...
Published: 07/14/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sunday, July 15

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sunday, July 15

Out editors’ top picks for fun.
Published: 07/14/18
Review: Sam Smith lightens the mood in joyful concert at Tampa’s Amalie Arena

Review: Sam Smith lightens the mood in joyful concert at Tampa’s Amalie Arena

We should all can the sad-boy talk. Live and in person, Sam Smith smiles a lot.He smiles before and after almost every song, waving and pointing to the crowd. He even smiles when singing all his huge, heart-filled hits – yes, even the really, r...
Published: 07/14/18
Where to watch the World Cup final in Tampa Bay

Where to watch the World Cup final in Tampa Bay

After 62 matches, there's only two teams standing in the World Cup. France and Croatia will face off Sunday at 11 a.m. Do you need a place to kick back, relax and watch all the final action … but not in your home? We've got you c...
Published: 07/14/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sunday, July 15

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sunday, July 15

SharkCon: A weekend all about sharks adds a comic con element this year with stars from Sharknado at a noon panel today including Ian Ziering, Cassie Scerbo and Gena Lee Nolin. Also includes a touch tank, shark tooth dig pit, paddle board clinic, oce...
Published: 07/15/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of July 16-22

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of July 16-22

Metrocon: The convention focused on anime that also covers all elements of pop culture that have been influenced by it settles into the Tampa Convention Center Thursday-Sunday. $30-$40. metroconventions.com. Beer Project: Inspired by the ancient mos...
Published: 07/13/18
Updated: 07/14/18