On paper, ‘Passengers’, a romantic sci-fi drama starring two of the biggest Hollywood stars of the moment, should have been an open goal.
But it took a bit of a pummelling at the hands of the critics – while some liked it, far more found it superficial, while others deemed its central premise unintentionally creepy.
It found Pratt’s engineer Jim Preston, a colonist on a transport starship, being awoken from hibernation 90 years too early from the planned 120 year journey to a distant planet, effectively meaning he is destined to die alone.
With only Michael Sheen’s android bartender Arthur for company, he decides to wake up Lawrence’s Aurora Lane, cosigning her to the same fate to defer his own loneliness, and keep it a secret.
It all comes out, of course, and there’s some disaster drama thrown in during the third act which brings them together, despite his creepy deceit.
The Times said: “To say that Passengers is a disappointment does not quite capture the lazy surface-gloss inanity that defines so much of it.”
Added the Wall Street Journal: “Who knows why Mr. Pratt and Ms. Lawrence signed up for this production; still, they’re both pros and they do what they can with the wretched material.”
Entertainment Weekly, meanwhile, called it ‘profoundly creepy’.
Pratt has now called the experience ‘a lesson’.
“I was really caught off guard by that,” he told Variety in an interview published yesterday.
“It was definitely a lesson. I personally think the movie is very good, I’m very proud of it.
“I’ll be curious to see if it holds up — the criticism and the movie.”
Interestingly, a video essay posted on YouTube yesterday, has explained how the film could have been so much more successful with a few simple edits.
For it’s part, the film was in development hell for years, with Keanu Reeves and Emily Blunt attached to star at one point.
Considering the talent on board, the movie rather underperformed too – making just shy of $300 million from a $110 million budget – likely something akin to a break-even after marketing and advertising costs.
“I’m proud of how the movie turned out and it did just fine to make money back for the studio,” Pratt added.
“But the critical score was disproportionately negative compared to the CinemaScore [B]. It got the same rating on Rotten Tomatoes as ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’, maybe worse.”