Onboard the starship Avalon, thousands of passengers and crew are bound for a new colony on a distant planet. They’re in suspended animation for the 120-year journey. But passengers Jim Preston and, later, Aurora Lane are awakened 90 years too soon—and the pods can’t be reconfigured to put them back to sleep.

At first, their only companion is Arthur, an automaton bartender. But when the Avalon begins to seriously malfunction, it triggers a third pod to open, this one carrying a crew member. The unlucky three must work together to save the ship, the crew, and the 5,000 passengers still in their sleep pods. critics appear to have been put off by an ethical twist in the story (no spoilers here). And the public, who likely anticipated aliens and space battles, were also disappointed. But Passengers isn’t your routine space opera; at its core, it’s a romance spiced up by a little action in the third act. It leaves the viewer with a lot to think about, rather than simply trying to recover from an audio/video pummelling.

While a 3D version is included in this box set, a rare occurrence these days, this review is limited to the UHD (mainly) and HD Blu-rays.

The movie was shot digitally at 6.5K, and the UHD transfer is from a 4K digital intermediate. The film doesn’t feature eye-searing color, but the UHD is nevertheless smooth yet crisply detailed. The HDR is sparing, but effective where it matters. My only reservation is that the starfields in some (but not all) of the space shots are a bit underwhelming.

The UHD version offers Dolby Atmos (the HD disc doesn’t), but I listened in 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. The sound isn’t overly dynamic except near the end where the action ramps up. But it’s nevertheless totally convincing. The bass isn’t pervasive, but it’s still challenging, notably in the opening scenes where the ship’s shield smashes into a giant asteroid, over- loading my 15-inch subwoofer. Thomas Newman’s beautifully recorded score is a perfect fit for the film, though it’s relatively subdued until that last act.

The extras include several making-of featurettes, a “Booking Your Passage” short (I think I’d ask more about those pods before signing up!), deleted scenes, and outtakes.

Studio: Sony, 2016
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio Format: Atmos (UHD); DTS-HD Master Audio (HD)
Length: 116 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen

davidbe's picture

This movie is stunningly beautiful in 3D on a 4K OLED (too bad they don't make those any more).