PASSENGERS — Review by Susan Granger

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It’s a terrific sci-fi premise: Two passengers on a 120-year journey on the immense, ultra-luxurious spaceship Avalon emerge from their hibernation pods 90 years too yearly. Along with 5000 paying passengers and 258 crew, they’re headed for a distant colony on a planet called Homestead II, which offers a ‘promised land’ alternative to “overpopulated, overpriced and overrated Earth.” Read on…

After a damaging asteroid strike, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) emerges from cryogenic sleep. Roaming around, he realizes that he’s the only one awake – with just a genial bartender, an android named Arthur (Michael Sheen), for company.

Jim is a mechanical engineer, so he spends a full year trying to remedy the situation – to no avail.

When he’s almost suicidal with loneliness and desperation, Jim finds another awakened passenger, a beautiful New York writer, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). Naturally, a romantic relationship develops but it’s built on a deception which, inevitably, must be revealed.

To tell you the subsequent turns and twists would spoil the suspense.

Existentially written by Jon Spaihts (“Prometheus,” “Dr. Strange” and the upcoming “Mummy”) and halmed by Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”), it’s filled with profound moral and philosophical dilemmas. Indeed, this provocative, character-driven screenplay was featured in the 2007 Blacklist of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.

In addition, it’s well-cast with remarkably innovative visual and production design, including an automat-style cafeteria, excellent CGI, and Aurora has a sleek travel wardrobe to-die-for. It’s obviously no coincidence that Aurora is also the name of the title character in Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.”

Unfortunately, disappointment settles in during the concluding act, which seems to have been adjusted by a focus group that demanded some spectacular action/thriller sequences.

FYI: Years ago, when Weinstein owned the project, Keanu Reeves was slated to star with Reese Witherspoon, then Rachel McAdams. But that didn’t pan out. So Sony’s Joe Rothman cast likeable, bankable Pratt and Lawrence.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Passengers” is an absorbing 6 that, sadly, squanders its compelling castaway concept.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.