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Rodrigo García
Anne Hathaway, Patrick Wilson, Andre Braugher, Dianne Wiest, David Morse, William B. Davis, Ryan Robbins
Writing Credits:
Ronnie Christensen

The Truth Can't Hide Forever.

While helping a handful of plane crash survivors cope with their grief, young psychologist Claire Summers (2008 Best Actress Oscar nominee Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married) begins to uncover conflicting accounts of the accident. At first, Claire believes that trauma is behind her patients' wildly different stories - until the survivors mysteriously begin disappearing one by one. Now Eric (Patrick Wilson), a surviving passenger she has grown dangerously close to, may hold the key to unlocking the truth about the tragic incident in this shocking psychological thriller.

Box Office:
$25 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.40:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $24.96
Release Date: 5/12/2009

• Audio Commentary with Director Rodrigo Lopez and Actor Patrick Wilson
• Three Deleted Scenes
• “Analysis of the Plane Crash” Featurette
• “The Making and Manifest of Passengers” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Passengers (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 6, 2009)

One can’t accuse Anne Hathaway of sticking with one genre all the time. Over her last three flicks, she’s starred in an experimental drama, a traditional comedic chick flick, and a supernatural thriller. The last one becomes the focus of today’s review, as we’ll look at 2008’s Passengers.

After a plane crash, therapist Claire Summers (Hathaway) counsels the survivors. As expected, these folks seem devastated by the events – all except for Eric Clark (Patrick Wilson), who displays an oddly perky demeanor. Eric decides to skip the group sessions with the four other survivors, but he agrees to one-on-one chats with Claire.

As Claire gets to know Eric, he appears more intent on bagging her than receiving therapy from her. Claire sees Eric on somewhat compromised terms and gets to know him. The movie follows their relationship and further complications related to the crash.

Since Waiting for Godot is already taken, the filmmakers should’ve called this one Waiting for the Twist. The publicity for Passengers leads us to see it as a supernatural tale. Heck, the DVD’s cover even tells us that “the line between this world and the next is about to be crossed”. With taglines like that, we bring a certain form of expectations to the table.

Expectations that the filmmakers generally try to subvert, though not entirely. Taken on the surface, much of Passengers remains earth-bound. It concentrates on the relationship between Claire and Eric, so we mostly find a dramatic romance. The crash investigation becomes a secondary plot, one that could be seen to add pathos to the flick – if it stayed on a particular path.

Which it doesn’t, of course, and the filmmakers telegraph their intentions to a degree. While the characters and events mostly follow the thread I mentioned, the movie uses techniques that indicate we’ll go down a more supernatural path. In particular, the photographic style leads us in that direction, as simple character dramas don’t go with suck stark visuals.

This means that we spend the entire film “Waiting for the Twist”, and that harms its effect. Granted, over the decade since The Sixth Sense, viewers have come to regard films of this sort with an air of suspicion. They know that some curveball will hit us eventually, so we don’t bear its impact as much as we would if we went in without such expectations. Oh, some films still manage to catch us unaware, but it’s become more difficult.

This means that we spend Passengers in a state of heightened alert as we wait for the “shocker”. This also means we’re more likely to figure out the twist before it arrives. Rather than just go with the flow, the anticipation of dramatic shifts ensures that we’ll try hard to sort them out before they hit us.

Suffice it to say that the big twist probably won’t come as a big surprise. Oh, I can’t claim that I knew what would happen without a doubt, as I thought they were a couple of possible curves, but the one we got didn’t exactly knock me for a loop.

So if you hope for something dynamic and surprising, Passengers probably won’t do much for you. That doesn’t mean it fails as a film, however. Indeed, the fact it usually doesn’t follow the standard genre conventions allows it to remain interesting even without the punch of The Big Twist.

Which means it’s best to watch it for what it is and not to worry about any shockers. It goes best when it fits into Ghost mode and can be viewed as a somewhat supernatural romantic drama. In that vein, it proves satisfying and even packs a decent emotional punch.

So feh on genre expectations! As a supernatural thriller, Passengers flops; it has its otherworldly side but lacks much I’d call “thrills”. However, it presents an interesting human drama and keeps us involved when we focus on that side of things.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Passengers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not without minor concerns, the transfer usually satisfied.

Sharpness generally fared well. Wide shots displayed a lack of great definition, partially due to some mild edge haloes. Nonetheless, the majority of the flick offered good clarity and delineation. Source flaws remained absent, though grain could be a little more prominent than expected.

The film’s palette went down a highly stylized path. The movie emphasized a blue tint much of the time and stayed on the chilly side of the street. The hues worked fine within those parameters. Blacks seemed dark and tight, while shadows were pretty good; they seemed appropriately dense. Overall, the image lacked great consistency but was strong enough for a “B”.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Passengers, it proved to be similarly satisfying. For the most part, we didn’t get an especially active affair. A few elements related to the plane crash opened things up a bit, and some vehicles also contributed a little pizzazz to the mix. However, the movie usually stayed with general environmental information, so don’t expect anything too exciting here.

Audio quality was solid. Music showed nice range and clarity, as the score was consistently bright and full. Effects also came across as accurate and concise; some good low-end emerged from both effects and music. Speech was natural and distinctive at all times. This was a good soundtrack that simply lacked anything special to make it stand out from the crowd.

When we shift to extras, we start with an audio commentary from director Rodrigo Garcia and actor Patrick Wilson. Both sit together for this running, screen specific track. They discuss what attracted them to the project, story and character subjects, cast and performances, locations and sets, and a few other production areas.

Garcia and Wilson offer a pretty chatty little track. They interact well and create an engaging look at the movie. Yeah, some of the standard happy talk comes along for the ride as well, but there’s not a ton of that. Instead, the commentary focuses on the movie and moves well.

Two featurettes follow. Analysis of the Plane Crash goes for 16 minutes, 28 seconds and includes notes from Garcia, visual effects supervisors Eric Nordby and Doug Oddy, production designer David Brisbin, digital compositor Dan Brittain, and cinematographer Igor Jadue-Lillo. “Analysis” looks at the various techniques used to create the movie’s big plane crash sequence. It mixes interviews and behind the scenes footage in a satisfying manner as it offers a solid exploration of the subject matter. I especially like that it digs into set design and doesn’t just stick with the visual effects side of things.

The Manifest and Making of Passengers runs 23 minutes, 14 seconds and features Garcia, Wilson, Brisbin, Jadue-Lillo, screenwriter Ronnie Christensen, producers Judd Payne, Julie Lynn, Matthew Rhodes and Keri Selig, and actors Anne Hathaway, Andre Braugher, David Morse, and Clea Duvall. “Manifest” examines story and characters, what Garcia brought to the project, cast and performances, the film’s look, “Manifest” tends to simply be a long recap of the story and characters. Some decent introspection comes along with this, and we do learn a few minor details about the production, but mostly the program feels like a “Cliff’s Notes” version of the film.

Three Deleted Scenes fill a total of seven minutes, 18 seconds. These include “Claire Finds Out the Truth” (2:58), “Claire At Norman’s House” (1:39), and “Claire’s Dream Sequence” (2:16). “Truth” throws out a little additional drama in Claire’s path but doesn’t really add much. The other two also provide a bit more nuance to the various relationships, but they don’t contribute anything new or terribly dynamic. While none of the clips would have hurt the film, they wouldn’t have made it better, either.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Blu-ray Discs, Angels & Demons, Rachel Getting Married and 2012. These also appear in the Previews area along with promos for Seven Pounds, I’ve Loved You So Long, The Lazarus Project, Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway, The Accidental Husband, The Class, Center Stage: Turn It Up, Private Valentine: Blonde and Dangerous, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Termination Point, Fearnet.com and Deep Winter. No trailer for Passengers shows up here.

Given its advertising, one might expect a taut Sixth Sense style thriller from Passengers. One won’t find that kind of flick, so if that’s what you want, skip it. However, if you want something that provides a Ghost-like romantic drama, then you’ll be happier with it. The DVD offers good picture and audio as well as a pretty good roster of supplements. This is a satisfying release for an involving movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 9
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