'Creepy' twist in Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence's Passengers leads to unexpected backlash

Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers. Photo: Roadshow
Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers. Photo: Roadshow

SPOILERS

If you caught the trailer for the upcoming blockbuster Passengers, you might've had the giddy idea that the film is an interstellar romance, cuddly Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence flirting adorably on a spaceship with robot gadgets before having to join forces against catastrophe.

Uh, don't be fooled. Others have, and the backlash has been immediate.

Confusingly described by its makers as "Titanic in space", the movie follows space travellers Jim Preston (Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Lawrence) as they're suspended in deep sleep on a spaceship while on a 120-year journey to a distant planet.

Unfortunately, a glitch in Preston's sleeping pod means he wakes up 90 years earlier than he's supposed to.

So what does he do, being the only castaway awake on a spaceship of 5,000 other sleeping passengers, knowing he'll die before it even reaches its destination? He wakes up his prettiest shipmate, Aurora, despite knowing it'll mean her inevitable death, too.

As you can see, it's not exactly the sci-fi love story many were expecting, as Jackson McHenry, writing for Vulture, notes.

"Despite what the film's marketing implies, Passengers is really more of a horror movie, especially if you view it from Aurora's perspective: her character never asked to take part in the space rom-com that Jim has devised for her, and compounding matters, she doesn't know he woke her up on purpose."

The revelation has led to a bitter backlash online from moviegoers and reviewers alike, criticising the film's tacky handling of its "consent" plotline and calling the whole thing a "problematic mess".

"The problem is, the movie doesn't even know how profoundly creepy it is. It's Boxing Helena in space," EW's Chris Nashawaty wrote in his review, calling it "way stupider" than its trailer lets on.

"Believe it or not, there are more twists and about half a movie left after this, but none of it is very interesting, nor can it get the foul taste out of your mouth about Pratt's unredeemable character," he added.

Other reviewers have called the film a "queasy mess as a love story" and criticised Pratt's character's "stalker-creepiness".

"Wow, I wasn't going to see Passengers even before I found out it was a deeply creepy kidnappy male saviour fantasy," The Observer's arts and culture writer Dana Schwartz added on Twitter.

The film, which landed a spot on Hollywood's star-making Black List back in 2007, had been stuck in development hell for years.

Keanu Reeves, Reese Witherspoon and Emily Blunt were all attached to the project at various points, as was Game Of Thrones director Brian Kirk. When Morten Tyldum, Oscar-nominated for The Imitation Game last year, took over directing duties, Pratt and Lawrence were brought into the fold.

It's a decision they may regret. After a string of box office hits that led to their appearance on Forbes' 'Best Value Actors' list just last week, the film appears to be the first smudge on two of Hollywood's most likeable and bankable stars.

You can judge for yourself when Passengers opens in cinemas locally on January 1.

This story 'Creepy' twist in Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence's Passengers leads to unexpected backlash first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.