Passengers

What is the movie about? :: It is a long time into the future with space technology being very much capable of almost anything that has been dreamt about right now. It has reached a state of near perfection that science is now something that cannot fail to deliver the promises which are calculated and made, no matter what the circumstances are. There is the highly advanced spaceship named Avalon which is transporting around five thousand colonists and a crew of two hundred and fifty eight suspended in hibernation pods to the new colony far away in space, the planet Homestead II through a journey that is expected to take one hundred and twenty years. Just thirty years into its journey, the ship comes across an asteroid belt, and despite keeping the shield strength at its highest, hits one of the huge projectiles, and faces multiple errors, all of it the ship repairs by itself while on autopilot, but there is the connection to pod number 1498 which gets struck hard, and the system is unable to repair the same.

So, what happens next? :: This problem awakens the passenger in hibernation inside the pod, a mechanical engineer named Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), ninety years earlier than he was supposed to wake up. After the early briefing and classes, he realises that he is the only one awake, and it is too early considering the fact that he was supposed to wake up only four months before the ship made landfall – at this rate, he was only going to age and die before the ship reached its destination. He tries sending a message to Earth, but not only does it prove expensive, the same is going to take nineteen years to arrive at the home planet, and the earliest reply is estimated to take fifty five years. He tries getting inside the pod again, and even repairing the pod using the instructions and his own technical skills, but there is no hope there. He tries to contact the people responsible, but the only people whom he gets to speak with are the machines and all he receives are automated answers.

And where does things go from there? :: After having tried everything including breaking in to places, Jim gets ready to accept his fate, talking and spending time with Arthur (Michael Sheen), an android bartender on the ship, as well as forcing himself into the areas of higher class passengers and enjoying special privileges. One year goes by, and Jim gets more and more disappointed about his situation, and even thinks about committing suicide, despite finally deciding against it. There is almost nothing new happening out there, and the spaceship just goes on through its path. But one day, while going through the pods, he come across Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) sleeping in her pod. He watches her profile and video and immediately falls for her, a writer. After thinking deep about it, he makes her pod malfunction, and she also awakens. He tells Arthur not to reveal the truth behind her pod to her.

And where are things heading now? :: Aurora, hopeless at first about the fact that she is going to age and die before reaching her dream destination, goes through the same things that Jim tried, and finally decides to write about her experiences during the journey. Soon, the two become very close to each other. Aurora trusts Jim as the only other person there, and the one last human being she is going to see in her life before she dies. But things don’t go that smooth as expected, and there is no perfect love story coming up here. The secret will be revealed, as Aurora will find out the truth behind her pod failure, and she won’t be the same person after that. At the same time, another pod will malfunction, and the same will awaken Gus (Laurence Fishburne), a Chief Deck Officer. He will reveal a few things about the current situation of the ship, which will threaten the lives of everyone on board. Can the ship be saved from a terrible fate that awaits, and can Jim and Aurora work together for the same?

The defence of Passengers :: Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are undoubtedly great together – there is a great chemistry going on there. The visuals are nothing less than stunning, and the spaceship is something that will stay in your minds for its splendour not just outside, but also inside. The swimming pool without gravity is among the best. Yes, the space remains amazing, and so do our ship and the leading characters. This is about the two people, their emotions and the space ship – along with all the saving that is needed in the end. Unlike what the reviewers are constantly saying without thinking deeper about there is one act of sacrifice and selflessness that we get to see in the end. Above all, this is also more like the tale of Adam and Eve, with the two protagonists getting to live with themselves, as the spaceship which faces devastation like our planet does, many years later – it can only be told later if the world in space survives, as the rest of the four thousand nine hundred and ninety eight people will get to be born again into a new world.

The claws of flaw :: There could have been better pacing for a two hour long movie, even though it never really brings the boredom to us. It is also not so good that Laurence Fishburne gets to come too late – there is a little too much going on before that, to be exact. We could have gotten this movie to be shorter by at least fifteen minutes, or rather could have had more action rather than extending the lonely life of the protagonist, and the relationship between the two main characters so much. There is even that happy climax which seems to be forced, but as I read some reviews by a few self-proclaimed intellectual reviewers, I feel that that climax and ending is the best, for it should have irritated their stubborn side a lot more. Maybe, you can search for the reviews with a lot of use of the word “selfish”, and then you can find out the flaws which have discovered, or rather created in this movie – most of them don’t really exist if you look at the flick; for I was very much immersed in this movie.

How it finishes :: The reviews on this movie have remained prejudiced, and that is not surprising considering how these people have been degrading the good movies in favour of those particular kind of movies, and try to make these movies score better at the box-office; it has been going on as a trend. The good thing is that a lot of reviewers from India have succeeded in going beyond that prejudice to like this flick. What surprises us the most is that almost all these reviewers who would do the exact same thing when caught up with a situation like this, have chosen to blame the protagonist, as well as the makers of the movie for so many factors related to the same – some people are just too idiotic to take only selected things into heart, when all these have finally come together to save so many lives in the end. We don’t have one selfish person here, but two, as it is evident from the second character, and it is selflessness and sacrifice that wins in the end – lets hope that people who have no idea of love and sacrifice will one day understand that. Well, who needs a more human story in space when there is Interstellar full of science and no humanity? For action, there are the Star Trek movies, Jupiter Ascending, Guardians of the Galaxy and many more. But this one is also worth it! If you liked this, do watch Pandorum.

Release date: 21st December 2016 (USA); 6th January 2017 (India)
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Nazanin Boniadi, Andy García, Aurora Perrineau, Vince Foster, Kara Flowers, Julee Cerda, Conor Brophy, Lauren Farmer, Aurora Perrineau, Emerald Mayne, Kristin Brock

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rio II

rio2 (2)

All the colours of the world :: I had decided not to watch a movie until Easter, but this Saturday was always going to be a free day, and another movie and some writing was around the corner. I hope you all had a good Good Friday, and yes, this day before the Easter Sunday is at the animated Amazon for me. A sequel to the animated movie of 2011 stays alive this week too, much to my surprise, and I decided to watch it this time even as I had chosen not to go for it last weekend due to the powerful flow of too many movies. The one thing everyone was to be sure about was that the movie was to be incredibly colourful. Well, it has too many blue birds, and the other colours just support the one dominant colour, and this presence of colours is not really the Vampire Bat’s area. In fact, there is always something about colours as far as most of the animated movies are concerned. But the Vampire Bat does like birds, even as he doesn’t fly (Rio itself was about a bird who couldn’t fly). Then there is Rio de Janeiro along with the Amazon forests, as one of those dream cities which needs a visit in one life or the other. So Rio 2 is in the list.

A flashback :: When Rio released in 2011 with the tagline “from the creators of Ice Age“, it was something to be missed. It was not to be as popular as the other creature-animation stuffs like Ice Age and Madagascar, but it was to leave something good enough to bring more later in the form of Rio 2. Another successful franchise was to begin there, and continue the success that most animated movies enjoyed. It was the story of two macaws, Blu and Jewel as they struggle to escape from smugglers, making a lot of friends in the city of Rio de Janerio and also falling in love. We see that the owners of the two birds who fall for each other build a sanctuary for them at the end and the hero who was a flightless bird getting to fly by the end and saving his love, the only other bird of the same species. It had a seventy two percent in the Rotten Tomatoes and did well with the audience too, as it scored nice at the box-office. But does this movie work well enough to be a worthy successor for that movie? I did have my doubts about that.

What is it about? :: Rio 2 continues the story a few years after the incidents of the first movie. The hero birds are having a good time in the city of Rio with their three kids, who are too naughty and strangely smart to handle. The things change when they come to know that they are not the last of their kind on the planet, as more macaws are alive and can be found somewhere in the Amazon. Jewel is very interested in going into the forest and finding the others, while Blu is uncertain and kids are looking for an adenture. He finally agrees to go as the other members of the family wants it so much and his friends have also decided to join the team, except for the bulldog who gets late. Meanwhile, their old enemy Nigel notices the team and pursues them with his newfound minions, a poisonous frog who is in love with him and a hesitant ant-eater who is always looking for food. The birds soon find what they were looking for, and the leader of the macaws turn out to the father of Jewel who is rather unimpressed by Blu’s domesticated and human-loving behaviour. But as humans invade and attempt to clear the forests, they have to work together so that they can save the macaw home as well as save the environment.

The defence of Rio 2:: Rio 2 has assembled the most colourful birds with animation, and this time, there are a few animals joining the party too, not just a bulldog; but the movie remains about birds and birds only. The major colour remain blue, thanks to our star birds, then there are the red ones, all moving around in the green forests, making the whole things mostly about three colours and its variants. These creatures dominate the screen and easily entertain the kids and impress the eyes of the elders. The success of this movie will be more about how the kids and the families take all these. Other than the birds, there is the beauty of Amazon forests as well as the charm of the city of Rio de Janeiro which will stay in our minds for quite some time, especially the Christ the Redeemer statue, the mountains and the aerial shots of the Amazon river surrounded by green forests. There is nothing like a landscape so beautifully recreated through animation. There is a certain amount of joy that one can get from watching such a spectacle on the screen, and there is no denying it. As one of the jewelry ads here say, “beauty meets quality”, that meeting was something needed by the movie though.

The claws of flaw :: The movie moves through predictable lines. There is nothing too unexpected. There is nothing much that you haven’t seen before either. There is the father’s relationship with the kids and the husband’s differences in opinion with his wife. There is the misunderstood male protagonist in the centre of all these, and nothing really makes us feel that much. That makes this more of an unnecessary sequel for the regular viewers, even as the box-office collections are going to prove that it was much needed for the makers. The songs are actually less interesting, and any expectation that it was going to be something like those in Frozen is not going have a happy going. They rather affect the movie in the wrong way instead of helping it. The villain has turned Shakespearean here, as a birdy Hamlet with a skull in his hands and saying “to be or not to be” and continues to perform as if he is on a theatre, but otherwise, he is less effective. His side-kick or the new Juliet feels more like a dropped frog from Romeo and Juliet, and sings rather too much. The 3D is wasted, and that hurts the visual experience, especially if you had to pay extra for the glasses.

Soul exploration :: The movie is all about the protagonist attempting to keep both the human and animal world with him, not disheartening his wife and children who are more into the wilderness stuff. He tries his best, but both the father-in-law as well as his wife’s childhood friend seems to feel that he is a misfit and a pet of humans who will betray the birds on this day or another, and in no way does he belong with them. There is so much of family issues right there. The nature conservation theme runs all around the movie, but is mostly lost, thanks to all the attention that is given to the colourful birds and all the thinking as well as stupidity that they perform while remaining cute. The evil of deforestation could have been given more importance, and nature had to take the centre stage like in Dr. Seuss The Lorax and Epic, but this one is clearly targeting the kids from the way in which they have treated the subject. Illegal logging has to be stopped and forests are to be conserved, but this movie doesn’t really give it more importance than the issues of a group of birds. By the way, the Shakespearean speeches are adorable.

How it finishes :: I would consider this the seventh best movie from Blue Sky Studios, after all movies of the Ice Age series, Epic and Rio. With Peanuts and Ice Age 5 coming up from the same animation film studio, we surely have a lot to expect from the same studio. For now, Rio 2 has survived and is still going strong enough even at this part of the world where the regional movies have captured most of the multiplex screens. With the Hindi 2 States and the Malayalam 1 By Two released this weekend, Rio 2 is still attracting the family audiences, and there lies its strength. The kids simply can’t resist these birds, and neither can the parents who find it a safe choice to watch with their little ones. Tarzan also had the India release here, but seems to lag. We can talk about innovations and new ideas all day, but this movie will surely continue to do well with the same idea so many movies have used and its own predecessor further adjusted. Even I didn’t want to miss this movie and after delaying the procedure of watching it for a week and rushed for it. Now the next challenge is Transcendence, and its critical opinion seems to drive people off.

Happy Easter! 🙂

Release date: 11th April 2014
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Carlos Saldanha
Starring (voice): Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, William Adams, Rodrigo Santoro, Jake T. Austin, Tracy Morgan, Bebel Gilberto, Andy García, Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Moreno, Rachel Crow, Amandla Stenberg, Pierce Gagnon, Natalie Morales, Janelle Monáe, Philip Lawrence, Miguel Ferrer, Jeffrey Garcia, Kate Micucci, Randy Thom

rio2 copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.