Passengers - Moral Choice Time!

Passengers - Moral Choice Time!

Passengers is a (fittingly) empty but pretty film - and boasts a solid moral dilemma at its center.

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I'm on my way to see this movie. Mainly, because of the leads and how great it looks. Thanks for the heads up about the thin plot. However, there are a lot of movies with thin plot that was overcome with great acting and special effects.

*reads review* Hm.... *reads wikipedia plot outline*

Well, I wasnt going to see the film, so I guess it doesnt matter, but I had hoped for a more perhaps, mind twisting plot.

The trailers I saw made little mention of Pratt's choice. I just thought two people had their stasis pods malfunction. Ultimately I was expecting it to turn out to be some Fallout Vault-Tec style experiment plot, perhaps trying to blah blah blah Adam and Eve blah blah blah.

Ive been watching alot of Star Trek and I think I will stick with that for futuristic philosophizing.

Yeah, been to see this today and I have to agree with Marter completely. Baffled at how people consider the choice "controversial" though.

TrulyBritish:
Yeah, been to see this today and I have to agree with Marter completely. Baffled at how people consider the choice "controversial" though.

Yeah. I mean, I get people thinking his choice is 'bad'. That's obvious, it is. But the thing is, what are the alternatives?

He could kill himself, but that's easier said than done.

Or, and this is what people seem to think is the 'right' choice, he could take the high ground and choose differently. Come to terms with your suffering and live on. But, that's not one choice. That's the same choice every hour of every day for the rest of his life, each harder than the last.

I think for the vast majority of people, that choice would be inevitable.

TrulyBritish:
Yeah, been to see this today and I have to agree with Marter completely. Baffled at how people consider the choice "controversial" though.

Please tell me HOW it would be no controversy about that choice. That choice is in the center of what makes the original script a horror story, and the studio tries with all his will to make a romantic action movie from it (and succeeds with some of the moviegoing audience as seen here)
That a bad action can be justified by "human nature" does not alter the consecuences of the action nor the importance of the choice

Saelune:
*reads review* Hm.... *reads wikipedia plot outline*

Well, I wasnt going to see the film, so I guess it doesnt matter, but I had hoped for a more perhaps, mind twisting plot.

The trailers I saw made little mention of Pratt's choice. I just thought two people had their stasis pods malfunction. Ultimately I was expecting it to turn out to be some Fallout Vault-Tec style experiment plot, perhaps trying to blah blah blah Adam and Eve blah blah blah.

Ive been watching alot of Star Trek and I think I will stick with that for futuristic philosophizing.

Deceptive advertising at his finest. I believe it's TVTropes that said "Trailers Always Lie". What I'd like to know is if, when, or how Jim finds out why his pod malfunctioned.

Wait a minute. If there are mechanical problems sufficient to cause drama, than what would've happened if the pods worked properly and nobody woke up? If this is a scenario in which stuff is breaking and people need to be awake to fix it or else everyone dies, then that's a different scenario with different moral weights.

TrulyBritish:
Baffled at how people consider the choice "controversial" though.

It's essentially a doomed man imprisoning a woman on a spaceship with him for the rest of her life because she gives him boners. If you don't see the controversy, I think that's your problem.

Even if we take out the boners, it's exactly the same choice Matt Damon's character had in Interstellar, only Matt Damon was actually dying and not just lonely, and that film still managed to understand that Matt Damon was the villain.

All of this could have been easily avoided by just presenting a situation in which Chriss Pratt actually needed J-Law for something. Like, maybe he thinks she can fix the ship, or maybe he's sick and she's a doctor. Then it becomes a moral choice. As it is, his entire motivation is that she's super hot and would make a convenient receptacle for his penis. The message is essentially "if you're lonely enough, you can abduct someone and exploit their desperation to make them have sex with you and it's okay provided you later save their life".

Not good enough for me, sorry.

Also, the final resolution of the plot makes his decision retrospectively even more stupid than it already is.

Stockholm Syndrome: The Movie, folks!

Okay, hang on.

I haven't seen the movie but from what I read in Marters review:

1/ They have sentient androids who speak like normal humans? However, he wants one additional companion, a female he wants having looked at her? Sooo... it's a whole movie about a guy who's actually a dick and sentences a woman to death because he wants some booty call? Because he can't be lonely if he has a SENTIENT and HUMAN LOOKING android! What exactly would be the difference if he does his ship stuff and then makes his home the bar with the barman droid? Who obviously converses 100% like a human, has emotion, can discuss topics (from the trailer).

2/ why CAN'T they go back in the pod once defrosted? Is this the normal "oh, well we pushed the "on" button on earth and that means you can't push the "on" button on the ship. Anyone who designs a Stasis system where someone can be emergency defrosted but not RE-frosted is an ass. Especially considering the technology level of the ship in the trailer. What a load of bullshit.

Movie should have been "Oh, my pod malfunctioned, here let me wake up the engineering techs. "hi guys, fix my pod" thanks. Everyone else re-freezed. Good... Presses the time delay button, gets in "Night all"

It'd make a shit movie, but from the sound of all the contrivances to get this moving this is just as bad.

KaraFang:
Anyone who designs a Stasis system where someone can be emergency defrosted but not RE-frosted is an ass. Especially considering the technology level of the ship in the trailer. What a load of bullshit.

Movie should have been "Oh, my pod malfunctioned, here let me wake up the engineering techs. "hi guys, fix my pod" thanks. Everyone else re-freezed. Good... Presses the time delay button, gets in "Night all"

My conclusion: Anyone can write science-fiction without knowing the basic minimal amount of how science (engineering, computer science, astronomy, biology, etc etc) works, and somehow hundreds of people and hundreds of millions of dollars works on it to make something shiny that millions of people see...(see also: prometheus,avatar,etc,etc) when such script should get rejected if presented as a mid-school paper. When we will get a faithful adaptation of something from Asimov, Clarke? I'm losing hope.

There are other things that don't make sense...

According to another review I saw, the reason the girl was making this 120 year trip was to get there, write a book, then travel back. So, when she got back, everyone she knew would have been dead. Twice over. Her world was already going to be dead, regardless of what choices the guy made.

However, let's assume everything on the journey went off without a hitch. No one woke up early, no problems happened to the ship. However, since the journey was 120 years, how do they know that the destination is still going to be there when they get there? What happens if a luxury liner pulls up to futuristic Aleppo?

Also, if everyone is supposed to be asleep, then why is the ship so spacious? People in tubes don't need sprawling galleries, atrium, Olympic-sized swimming pools, etc.

KaraFang:

1/ They have sentient androids who speak like normal humans? However, he wants one additional companion, a female he wants having looked at her? Sooo... it's a whole movie about a guy who's actually a dick and sentences a woman to death because he wants some booty call? Because he can't be lonely if he has a SENTIENT and HUMAN LOOKING android! What exactly would be the difference if he does his ship stuff and then makes his home the bar with the barman droid? Who obviously converses 100% like a human, has emotion, can discuss topics (from the trailer).

Except the robots can not converse like humans. They're good here and there, look great, and can handle simple exchanges just fine, but that's about where it stops. They're basically more advanced versions of the chat bots we have now. The movie does a decent job with the portrayal actually, the robots never feel real, there's always that lack depth, like you're just getting personalized canned responses. They are not even close to sentient and you can feel it in the interactions.

KaraFang:

2/ why CAN'T they go back in the pod once defrosted? Is this the normal "oh, well we pushed the "on" button on earth and that means you can't push the "on" button on the ship. Anyone who designs a Stasis system where someone can be emergency defrosted but not RE-frosted is an ass. Especially considering the technology level of the ship in the trailer. What a load of bullshit.

The movie's explanation is that the pods do not put people in stasis at all. Rather, they're put in stasis prior to transport, probably while still on Earth, and the pods are just storage containers to maintain them and wake them up.

As for why they also don't have the means to put people back in on the ship, the movies excuses are pretty thin on that.

...Sigh. Some of the forum replies are the same responses that have been popping up in my Facebook feed. With some of the exact same phrasing, no less. We can't have any kind of potentially controversial issue unless the film-makers are clearly leading the audience by the hand to the "right" decision; we can't have a character make a decision differently than you would have made because they have to be the stand in for everyone who shares their (sex/race/sexual orientation/nationality/religion/etc.).

It's kind of a pity, because it does sound like it might make for some interesting conversations. Instead of taking up the basic high-school debate task of turning something over and trying to make a cogent point for something you might disagree with, just make it out to be something even worse and sniff that the very idea is beneath you.

Callate:
...Sigh. Some of the forum replies are the same responses that have been popping up in my Facebook feed. With some of the exact same phrasing, no less. We can't have any kind of potentially controversial issue unless the film-makers are clearly leading the audience by the hand to the "right" decision; we can't have a character make a decision differently than you would have made because they have to be the stand in for everyone who shares their (sex/race/sexual orientation/nationality/religion/etc.).

In cinema, and to a certain extent in any kind of fictional medium, most characters are designed to function as a stand in. That's an integral part of what makes movies fun to watch, because they're not just disconnected happenings on a screen but they resonate with us and speak to things in our own lives or our own psyches. Even supposedly "escapist" genre movies set in fantastic locations or improbable universes still rely on the ability to form an emotional connection with us, otherwise they'd just be boring.

Passengers is not a horror movie. It's not an intense psychological drama about the nature of forgiveness and the complexity of human relationships. It wasn't written or directed as either of these things. It's clearly presented as and supposed to be a love story, with the revelation boiling down to the basic "liar revealed" derailment (despite the fact it is figuratively murder). It's still draped in all of the genre trappings of a love story. The ending is explicitly presented as some moving, life affirming and morally positive thing. The movie, despite hinging on the premise of a "moral choice", spoon feeds us the answer with little room for ethical questions.

So no, the movie doesn't give us a position which is in any way detached, and I don't think you can blame the audience for expecting the love story they're watching to tell them something about love, and being unpleasantly surprised. The movie is holding the audience's hand and leading them to the "right" decision, unfortunately it's leading them to something which would be pretty horrible if anyone were to actually believe it.

evilthecat:
Passengers is not a horror movie. It's not an intense psychological drama about the nature of forgiveness and the complexity of human relationships. It wasn't written or directed as either of these things. It's clearly presented as and supposed to be a love story, with the revelation boiling down to the basic "liar revealed" derailment (despite the fact it is figuratively murder). It's still draped in all of the genre trappings of a love story. The ending is explicitly presented as some moving, life affirming and morally positive thing. The movie, despite hinging on the premise of a "moral choice", spoon feeds us the answer with little room for ethical questions.

So no, the movie doesn't give us a position which is in any way detached, and I don't think you can blame the audience for expecting the love story they're watching to tell them something about love, and being unpleasantly surprised. The movie is holding the audience's hand and leading them to the "right" decision, unfortunately it's leading them to something which would be pretty horrible if anyone were to actually believe it.

Have you seen the movie? Not intended as a "gotcha"- I haven't, and I'm curious. I've seen the trailer, and then I got to witness a social media swarm.

What I have seen suggests that there's any number of things that deserve more consideration, and it would be a pity if they all got cast aside on the notion that there's only a single acceptable way to contemplate the movie, its characters, and its choices.

One is the notion that the hero has "murdered" the heroine. I'm not going to suggest that the hero's choice to wake the heroine isn't selfish, or arguably cruel. However:

1. It assumes the ship will reach its destination and all passengers will wake from their suspended animation as planned. It's difficult to accept this as an absolute certainty, even without the catastrophes that appear to befall the ship in the preview. Certainly that seemed to be the mission's intent, but if we're going to go as far as taking the absolute view that being made to live out your natural life span on board ship without achieving the purpose for which you set out on that journey is "murder", we might want to take into account the non-trivial possibility of disaster meaning that no one on board ship would ever wake up at all.

2. Others have noted that at the time he decides to wake up the heroine, the hero is seriously considering suicide. I don't believe that justifies his actions, but I do believe it mollifies and humanizes them. Casting his actions as being misogynistic or entirely sexual trivializes the more universal quality of loneliness- and begs the question if the reaction would be the same if the roles were reversed.

3. Does the situation in which the characters have been cast- one, apparently, by chance, the other by being unwittingly subjected to another's choice- somehow eliminate their free agency, their choice? Are their actions out of character or implausible? Or do just not jibe with members of the audience who, due to their own backgrounds, assumptions, and leanings, find them unacceptable? Is it fair to expect characters placed in an extreme situation by the conflict needs of an entertainment product to behave in ways that strictly accord to one's own conventions, absent such stress?

Now, I've watched a few hundred Hollywood love stories in which we, the audience, were expected to take it as a given that the heroine's strong or even violent dislike for the hero- occasionally, but not regularly, returned- was an all but certain sign that there was something under the surface that would eventually manifest as love. That particular trope I find far more common, and unnerving, than anything I've seen suggested about Passengers, especially if put into practice in real life.

And maybe I'm overthinking a mass-media entertainment product that was meant to be consumed and discarded without much thought- especially if the "reveal" is, as you say, treated as one more third-act misunderstanding to generate short-lived friction before the inevitable reunion.

But I would kind of like the chance to come to that conclusion for myself, rather than have numerous people tell me what I'm expected to think if I'm right-thinking.

Callate:
One is the notion that the hero has "murdered" the heroine.

I'm not adding that, by the way. It's literally in the movie. I would have stopped at kidnapping personally, but the film itself goes there and has Aurora (J-Law's character) straight up call it that.

Callate:
It assumes the ship will reach its destination and all passengers will wake from their suspended animation as planned.

I don't think this line of reasoning is particularly useful because it relies on some fairly imaginative logical extrapolation of a constructed narrative. The simple fact is that everything happened in the movie happened because a writer said it would happen. The writer is not bound by some carefully calculated theorem which dictates the precise rate of mechanical breakdown for vital components of a massive sleeper ship, the stuff they put in the film is there to tell an interesting and emotionally engaging story.

If we do approach this question in an the in-universe fashion, then we are still forced to the conclusion that the breakdown of the ship is irrelevant to the moral choice because the moral choice takes place long before there is any indication that the ship as a whole is in danger. Even if Aurora's presence wound up being vital to save the ship (which is questionable, she's not a very effective character) that's not the reason why Jim chose to wake her up.

As a movie, the whole thing becomes even more inexplicable because the mechanical breakdown is not the focus of the film at all. The mechanical issues becoming a threat to the ship itself is a circumstance which only crops up in the third act. In the context of the story, it serves as little more than a device to force the characters back together and, through a contrived series of events, lead Aurora to realise that she loves Jim for realsies now and to set up the happy ending.

Callate:
Others have noted that at the time he decides to wake up the heroine, the hero is seriously considering suicide. I don't believe that justifies his actions, but I do believe it mollifies and humanizes them.

I agree. It's possible to have a character who does something horrible and yet still to allow the audience to see how, placed in a horrible situation those actions became understandable. I mentioned Dr Mann (Matt Damon's character in Interstellar) earlier. Again, the movie uses him (quite explicitly and clunky) as a mouthpiece for its darker and more nihilistic themes. It understands that placed in the same situation, facing utter loneliness and eventual death in the vastness of an empty universe, many of us would probably be tempted to do the same thing. However, the movie never presents Dr Mann as some kind of romantic hero. The justification for his own actions comes purely from him, it isn't reinforced or allowed to become the central message of the movie itself. Passengers, on the other hand, literally has a third character (who actually is an engineer, no less) show up and tell Aurora she's overreacting because isn't it sad that he was alone for a whole year?

Callate:
Casting his actions as being misogynistic or entirely sexual trivializes the more universal quality of loneliness- and begs the question if the reaction would be the same if the roles were reversed.

I think this question misunderstands the nature of the sexism which is being alleged. I don't think a "role reversed" version of this film would have made it through editing intact. Who would that film actually be for? Who would be expected to watch and enjoy it? The sexism here is not that we've yet again been fed a love story with a passive fantasy woman character who is the object of desire for a man, rather than the other way around. The sexism is not even that the story, yet again, revolves around a man deceiving or hurting his fantasy woman in his attempts to pursue her to her only for her to have to give up and realise that he was right all along and they are perfect together and he only did it because he's really in love with her. The sexism is that we as an audience can still be expected to look at that and see it as a love story even when it's taken to fairly horrible extremes.

Callate:
Does the situation in which the characters have been cast- one, apparently, by chance, the other by being unwittingly subjected to another's choice- somehow eliminate their free agency, their choice?

Fictional characters do not have agency, at least not in the same sense people do. They are creations of a writer (and all the other people involved in making a movie), who control what they do, say and what happens to them. Characters can act as if they have agency, they can do things which the writer thinks suggest or indicate that they have agency, but it is a fictional representation of agency. A "stand in" if you like. What matters, and what makes it worth discussing, is how it represents us real people, or how it makes us think and feel about our own capacity for agency. The major issue, I suppose, is that in real life learning to see controlling, manipulative or abusive behaviour as excusable or forgivable if motivated by "love", or, worse still, bonding intensely with someone who is holding you in captivity generally signals the point at which a person has lost some of the capacity to make free decisions.

I don't think the movie is dangerous, just like the Twilight movies were never going to create a generation of battered housewives, but I also think that part of why it isn't dangerous is that we're at the point where this kind of thing doesn't just slip by like it would have done previously.

KissingSunlight:
I'm on my way to see this movie. Mainly, because of the leads and how great it looks. Thanks for the heads up about the thin plot. However, there are a lot of movies with thin plot that was overcome with great acting and special effects.

Yeah, I was young and naive. I did not see the movie that day. I finally saw it today.

The story is very weak. The moral quandary in the movie wasn't that compelling. I can understand why people would get upset about it. However, Chris Pratt did a great job with conveying that loneliness that it would be understandable why he would do that. It is a little annoying for people who haven't seen the movie to describe it as "having a boner".

The movie overall was well-acted. It looked great. Some of the action scenes were really good. Like I said, the movie doesn't let you really get invested in the controversial moral choice. It does play it off like a typical romantic movie. The whole storyline was probably not a good idea. It didn't help that it wasn't executed very well.

I'm late to commenting I know but I forgot it was review on here when I watched it last Christmas.

The film was ok, I just didn't liked how it keep changing the theme. It start out as cast away then it become semi romance which become dark and finally a thriller!

Also I think that ship suck if it doesn't contain a library of games like the ones we played and not that sucky dance one shown in the film or maybe thqat guy isn't a gamer.

 

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