Two of the biggest names in Hollywood right now, coming together in one film. That should mean this will be the best movie ever, right? Let’s see.
There’s a ship called the Avalon, flying through space on its way to a new colony planet called Homestead II. There are 5,000 passengers, all in hibernation until they get close to the planet. However, in the film’s opening moments, something happens and Jim (Chris Pratt) wakes up about 90 years too early. The story of how Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) wakes up is a story I don’t want to spoil but the two of them try to survive on this ship, as more and more technical hiccups occur and put their lives (and the other 5,000 people’s lives) at risk. We also have Michael Sheen starring as an android bartender named Arthur.
Chris Pratt carries this movie and he offers surprising depth, much more than his usual outings. And by now, you know that Jennifer Lawrence is incredible, so her performance isn’t as surprising. Together, they have incredible chemistry but also suitable tension over several issues that arise. I liken this movie to Castaway because it’s really about the environment and how these people cope with the silence and solitude.
This movie is smaller in scope than the trailers lead you to believe. There are moments in the trailers that are meant to look like their lives are at risk, which in the film are just harmless encounters. I think this works to the movie’s advantage though. The look at how two people live and survive here is much more interesting, though the movie transforms into a high-octane adventure in the third act, which is a bit of a jarring transition.
I also want to applaud Michael Sheen, who really holds his own against two Hollywood A-listers. He plays an android, so there’s a bit of a robotic nature to him, but he also has plenty of personality and he offers some levity in a somewhat dark and hopeless film.
The ship that they’re on is also fascinating, full of little quirks and details that you might even miss completely. It’s a very interesting setting for sure, made ominous by the fact that there’s only a few people inhabiting it.
What doesn’t work?
I listed as a positive that the movie is small in scale, but this may be a deterrent for you. If you go in wanting this to be an explosive space adventure, you’ll be let down. It’s slow and methodical and character-driven. A group of high schoolers in my showing left about halfway through because they found it so uneventful.
Now, the final act becomes this action movie but that transition is jarring. Like imagine Castaway but he gets attacked by a pirate ship in the climax and has to fight them. That’d be weird right? So the climax felt a little disjointed from the rest of the movie, though still definitely had me on the edge of my seat.
If you go in with the expectation that this is a character study on two people trying to survive on a traveling space ship, you’ll love this. It’s slow and purposeful, though ends with a bang. I found the setting to be compelling, made even moreso by two complex characters brought to life perfectly by Pratt and Lawrence.