An excerpt from my script review for Passengers which will be available 01/03/17:
2.) Plot Stability
Again, this story hits all the marks in a way that entertains us, not including certain beats simply because a screenwriting book says to.
Everything flows naturally, and although it’s been a while since reading an earlier draft, this version of the story feels a bit tighter.
What is Passengers?
An adult (not in the dirty way) version of Wall-E where all of the travelers are asleep instead of fat.
For me, I like that. This story deals more with the logistics of colonial space travel, focusing less on the preachy “we’ve ruined the Earth” environmental sermon.
Anyway, here are the bits I enjoyed (and some I didn’t).
Page 7 – We’re introduced to our main character, Jim, who wakes up under the premise that they’re almost to the new planet they’re all going to populate like bunnies. One problem, out of 5,000+ passengers, Jim is the only one awake.
Only seven pages in and we’re presented with an interesting problem!
Page 9 – The plot thickens! Not only is he the only one awake, Jim is still 90 years from his destination, with no way of going back into hibernation, meaning he’ll die before the ship reaches the planet.
Page 13 – He’ll call for help, right? Oh, transmissions can only travel at the speed of light, making the earliest response 67 years away.
(*NOTE* This is a real issue for me. I’m not a physicist, but if that law holds true, it does present a serious issue for interstellar colonization. If a problem arises, the ship, crew, whoever, needs to have all potential solutions at their disposal, because no one back on Earth can help.)
Page 18 – Lucky for Jim, he’s a mechanic who’s pretty handy at fixing things…only this is outside his wheelhouse. The pods aren’t designed to put passengers BACK to sleep because they’ve been ruled “fool proof”. Thanks Buy N Lar…er Homestead Company!
Page 25 – Jim’s stuck, and he tries to make the best of it, with all these luxurious amenities at his fingertips, only he’s still the only living (awake) person on a giant spaceship.
Page 30 – Enter Aurora Dunn.
Jim falls instantly in love with her, and as she’s a writer, Jim finds a way to preoccupy his time, by reading everything she’s ever written…
But he’s smitten…and that presents a SERIOUS issue for a lonely man…
(*NOTE* Members have mentioned they changed the film to have less of a “stalker” angle, which cheapens the film. Going politically correct here kind of sucks, because the script in NO WAY suggests what Jim did is right. It presents an extremely deep discussion in human psychology, arguing what he did was wrong, but makes us think about what we would do in his shoes.)
Page 35 – Anyway, Jim triggers a malfunction in Aurora’s pod, waking her up. (Loneliness trumps true love!)
Page 43 – Pretty clever portion here. Instead of showing us Aurora repeating all the things Jim’s already tried, or worse just have them sit and talk about it, Aurora suggests a few things Jim never thought of, giving us hope maybe they can be saved.
Page 63 – Nothing really works though, but being two lonely people on a deserted futuristic version of the Love Boat, they fall for each other, and it’s everything Jim could have hoped for.
Page 69 – Until it isn’t, and Arthur, the robot bartender, lets it slip that Jim couldn’t stop talking about Aurora on her last birthday…when she wasn’t awake yet…doesn’t take her long to connect those dots.
So much for the Paris Suite!
Page 82 – Another malfunction, and a crew member wakes up.
(*Note* Okay, this was a serious flaw I had with the story…Gus waking up is entirely TOO CONVENIENT. I mean 5,000+ options and you luck out by getting a guy who can unlock and override every door on the ship? C’mon…)
Page 84 – But alas, Gus waking up, and being deathly ill let’s everyone know the ship isn’t going to make it to Homestead II. So off they all go trying to fix the problem before…
Page 100 – …Gus dies. Suddenly it’s like the ship had a psychic link with him…EVERYTHING starts failing and pretty quickly.
Page 101 – Meteor tore through the hull into the fusion reactor, Jim has to manually vent the heat, which should kill him but doesn’t…yadda yadda yadda, he and Aurora live happily ever after…
Didn’t care for how Jim doesn’t get burnt to a crisp when he manually vents the heat.
Then once that disaster’s over, his tether breaks, causing him to float too far from the ship.
The ship’s going light speed, and Jim isn’t…how does he only slowly drift away?
Something feels off here, but I’m no Bill Nye.
This draft’s ending…
I kind of miss how Jim and Aurora “hatch” the genetic DNA of all the passengers from the cold storage leading to two human generations once the ship reaches Homestead II.
The pods in this version have critical failures and fixing the reactor magically reverses all that?
Seems too easy.
The log cabin was a nice touch, but again, was the lumber readily available in storage, or did Jim have to plant a tree and wait for it to grow big enough only to cut it down?
Not sure the timeline works on that last one.
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