Passengers” is a science fiction movie starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence that was released to the big screen in late 2016 and was recently made available on pay-per-view cable. The run of the mill romantic story set on board a ship taking colonists to a new world in another star system is elevated by the chemistry that the two actors manage to spark between them. However, some details make themselves susceptible to nitpicking (some spoilers ahead).

The ship seems terribly luxurious for a colony ship

The starship Avalon is a colony ship transporting 5,000 colonists and 250 crew to a new world in cryogenic sleep on a 120-year voyage.

She is a technological marvel, equipped with an energy shield to ward off debris that might otherwise destroy it when traveling at a goodly percentage of the speed of light. Avalon also has a lot of self-repair technology, no doubt necessary for the parts of the voyage when everyone is asleep.

But Avalon is also awfully luxurious for a ship designed to take thousands of people from Earth to another planet while they are asleep. She comes equipped with a well stock bar, with an android bartender played by Michael Sheen. The cafeteria has upscale food and drink offerings for those colonists willing to pay for them. The ship also has sophisticated, computer hologram driven entertainment facilities.

Avalon is more like a cruise ship than something built for the purpose she is said to be fulfilling. Of course, one could suggest that these features are necessary for the plot.

Corporate interstellar colonies

The future of “Passengers” features corporations building, running, and populating Interstellar Colonies. One suspects that this aspect of the film’s backstory was partly inspired by SpaceX’s Elon Musk’s plan for a private Mars settlement.

In any case, the economics of a corporate space colony is covered nicely.

Two ways exist for someone to board Avalon for a voyage to a new world and a new life. One can be rich enough to buy one's passage and presumably establish oneself once they arrive at the new world. Or one had a needed skill, such as mechanical engineer, and then can become a colonist in exchange for giving up 20 percent of one’s earnings to the corporation for life.

Considering the tax rates in some locales, that aspect sounds like a good deal.

The bottom line

“Passengers” is a superior space adventure, not very beloved by the critics, but which did relatively well at the worldwide box office. The film is well worth a look, in particular on a big screen TV. It doesn’t have the action of a “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” adventure, but the drama is exciting enough and the characters quite appealing.