Despite starring two of the most likeable romantic leads Hollywood can muster, new science fiction blockbuster Passengers is already being widely panned — and it hasn’t even come out yet.The big budget film, which stars Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, has been heavily promoted in recent months, but a crucial plot point left out of the its trailer has upset audiences and critics alike.
Just FYI, if you do wish to see the film without spoilers, now is the time to stop reading as a big one is on the way.
Passengers is set on board the Starship Avalon, a sleek spacecraft in the midst of a 120-year journey to a distant colony planet.
It's supposed to be fully-automated, indestructible and safely deliver its cargo — thousands of hibernating Earthlings — to the far off "Homestead II".
Suffice to say, nothing goes as planned for what is essentially the intergalactic Titanic and two passengers (geddit?) have the misfortune of waking up 90 years too early. Will human beings ever learn? No, obviously they will not.
The pair are Jim Preston (Pratt), a hunky middle-American engineer, and Aurora Lane (Lawrence), a sassy New York journalist.
As can be gleaned from the trailer, they court one another using robots and fun role-playing scenarios for a year or so, while drinking heavily, making out a bit and coming to terms with only having each other (and an inexplicably British robot bartender) for company.
That is, until something goes terribly and inevitably wrong.
Without having seen the film it would be unwise to critique it — though many already have, unfavourably — but there is one crucial omission from the trailer that is worth mentioning and it's this:
Only Jim was doomed to live out his remaining years alone in space, because only his hibernation pod malfunctioned.
Aurora's pod was working fine, but Jim woke her up to keep him company.
That means, Aurora would have snoozed happily all the way to Homestead II if Jim hadn't creepily chosen her as his life-long companion, effectively sentencing her to death. Romantic, huh?
Regardless of its two actors' obvious chemistry, there's really no getting past this disturbing detail.
As The Telegraph pointed out, Passengers "isn’t a romance: it’s a creepy ode to manipulation."
Likewise The Guardian, whose reviewer awarded the film a measly two stars, had this to say: "the basic creepiness of this anti-meet-cute extinguishes what the film-makers presumably are hoping is a warm fuzzy glow of spiky, sparky interaction."
And the word has quickly spread on social media:
The film is due for release in Australia on New Years Day.
While it may still offer some romantic escapism for audiences, as The Guardian points out, the creepy premise really is "gruesomely inescapable".