Sci-Fi Fridays, Episode 60: Five Takeaways from the “Passengers” trailer

Passengers clip, Jennifer Lawrence

One week ago, Sony Pictures dropped the official trailer for the highly anticipated film, “Passengers.” Watch the trailer first and then read on to discover the five major things we took away from it.

1. Star persona is a big selling point – Like Matt Damon in “The Martian,” it appears that “Passengers” will revolve around its stars’ big personalities. Jennifer Lawrence’s carefree charisma and Chris Pratt’s “everyman” appeal will be on full blast in this sci-fi romantic epic. Don’t be surprised if Lawrence’s Aurora dishes out sarcastic quips or finds humor in this impossible scenario. The same goes with Pratt, whose Jim Preston will likely stumble his way into our hearts. Director Morten Tyldum will squeeze every ounce of celebrity likability to keep the quiet moments flowing along like a breezy Woody Allen film.

2. The film takes inspiration from Wall-E – There’s an adorable moment with Pratt’s Jim using a vacuum robot to ask Lawrence’s Aurora out on a date. The relatively silent focus of the pair’s exchanges recall the intimacy of Pixar’s “Wall-E.” There’s a lighthearted sweetness to “Passengers” that doesn’t appear to be compromised once chaos erupts. Like Wall-E and EVE, it seems as though no matter what obstacles are thrown at the couple, their endearing core dynamic will remain intact. Lawrence and Pratt must convince audiences that their irresistable romance is enough to keep “plot” on the back burner.

3. The “popcorn film” vibe could resonate with AMPAS – Interstellar’s esoteric narrative didn’t resonate with Academy members despite being breakthrough cinema. However, just one year later, a crowd-pleasing survival story that pits man against Mars…did. The latter movie’s accessibility and upbeat nature thoroughly engaged AMPAS voters. Judging by this early footage, “Passengers” aims to mirror “The Martian’s” likability factor. As for acting nods, I’m not anticipating Pratt to pull off a Bradley Cooper-esque shockingly affecting performance. Depending on how competitive the “Best Actress” field gets, Lawrence’s magnetism and charm could once more elicit a nomination. The trailer plays like a montage reel of Jennifer Lawrence’s standout acting traits. The combination of serious emoting with engaging charisma is what Lawrence does best, making her a last-minute contender if the film hits the zeitgeist.


4. Who are the other characters? – The film has made no secret that it’s the Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt show. Still, it’s hard not to surmise about the significance of the other characters that popped up in the trailer. There’s obviously Michael Sheen playing some kind of bartender cyborg, though his contribution is surely deeper than comedic relief. Then we have that shot of Andy Garcia’s character walking into a room with people behind him. It looks as though they’ve stumbled into something unexpected based on the shocked expressions on their faces. Finally, we have a shot of Laurence Fishburne’s Gus Mancuso forlornly gazing into the camera. He seems to be standing in an open area near an atrium, though it’s unclear whether he’s outdoors or still within the space station. Maybe Laurence’s Gus is some sort of hologram or ghost that Lawrence and Pratt run into.

5.  Pratt’s Jim Preston is hiding something – Three times during the trailer, it was implied that Jim Preston might be covering up some secret. The first is when Lawrence’s Aurora asks him why he gave up his life on Earth. He seems deep in thought before answering, but before he does the trailer cuts to a different scene. Then there’s that chilling voiceover of Pratt asking Lawrence’s Aurora if he trusts her. Foreshadowing, perhaps? Finally, there’s that scene of Jim admitting to Aurora that he has something to come clean about. One theory is that he is either the direct cause or involved in the pair waking up early from hybernation. Perhaps he’s been assigned an unethical directive by his superiors, and this entire film is him disobeying said directive because he’s fallen in love.

What are everyone’s initial impressions about the trailer? Post your thoughts and analyses below!