Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence star in a big-screen, all-American adaptation of BBC’s Red Dwarf. Right?
When my wife and I headed off to see Passengers last night, I had no idea that it was an American big-screen version of the classic BBC series Red Dwarf. I’d thought it was a big-budget sci-fi romance – but how wrong I was!
Nope, although some of the details were changed, it was clearly an adaptation of Red Dwarf.
In keeping with the original, the film is set on a massive spacecraft on a seemingly endless voyage into deep space. The Red Dwarf is swapped for the Avalon, but aside from a sexy Apple store makeover, it’s clearly the same ship.
The Dave Lister character is played by Chris Pratt, and they changed his name to “Jim Preston” (which is about as American a version of ‘Dave Lister’ as you can get.) Just like in the original, he’s a schlubby mechanic from a humble background – and in keeping with the BBC version, awakens from hyperspace to find that he’s the only man alive/awake on a spaceship in the middle of nowhere.
For the first third of the movie,
Dave Lister Jim Preston just struggles to survive the monotony of space travel – by playing basketball, Dance Dance Revolution and drinking heavily. To that end, his fragile grip on sanity is maintained by Arthur; an android bartender who is clearly an amalgum of the Arnold Rimmer and Kryten characters from Red Dwarf. This is very similar to the first season of Red Dwarf.
Eventually, boredom and loneliness overcomes Jim, so he awakens fellow passenger Aurora, who is the Cat character, I guess – although she’s more of a Fox in this adaptation. She’s a slinky and effortlessly cool creature who spends the movie in impossibly elegant clothing and goes space-walking in four-inch heels.
There’s some plot about the space ship being damaged, and some Hollywood hyperbole about saving the other passengers, but eventually the movie returns to its original premise of two people lost in space, and getting up to a bunch of mischief as they seek to entertain themselves (like planting a fucking tree in the middle of the concourse.)
All the Red Dwarf tropes are there – from the food vending machines, to the ‘Scutters’ which scurry about fixing the ship. While it’s a little slick and sexy to please fans of the original show, I think it’s a heroic adaptation of this television classic and I loved every minute of it. Highly recommended.
WRITER’S NOTE: I have just learned that Passengers is, in fact, an entirely independent movie and not an adaptation of Red Dwarf at all. Although given all the similarities, I think somebody better call a lawyer.