Passengers (2016): Lost and Found in Space (Review)

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in Passengers

Written by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Doctor Strange) and directed by Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game, Headhunters), Passengers is a spectacular offering that runs the gamut from a Robinson Crusoe theme to one of heartwarming romance. In-between these two scenarios the film offers some brilliant action and soul searching moments. 

Chris Pratt is Jim Preston is the “everyman” engineer who wakes 90 years early because of the spaceship hitting a very large meteor. His existence is lonely, frustrating and desperate. In the year he faces life on his own, he finds Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) and after an agonizing time of indecision, opts to wake the writer up early. 

Michael Sheen is Arthur, the ship’s robotic bartender. (A clear nod and wink to the film Arthur which was  about an alcoholic millionaire played first by Dudley Moore and later by Russell Brand.) The three spend their days interacting until another person wakes early; Gus Mancuso (Laurence Fishburne). 

Gus, the only crew member to wake early, tries to find out what is wrong with the ship and works to fix it.

Passengers skillfully and deftly moves between its four acts and allows us the opportunity to really care for each character as they appear. Preston grabs our sympathy from the very start and later, when he and Aurora bond we feel for each person in this unlikely romance.

As the characters grow and change the atmosphere melds into one of unease as things go on in the background.  Each shift in the tale increases our interest in the people and their fate.

Each actor in the film knocks it out of the park. Fishburne is brilliant as the last minute guest. The casting of the actor must have been a homage to his doomed captain from the 1997 space film Event Horizon

Michael Sheen manages to not only shine as the android bartender who seamlessly blends in with the only two passengers on board but he also offers a delightfully odd air throughout the film. His drink and wisdom dispensing robot, with those overly pink lips, comes dangerously close to stealing every scene he is in.

Passengers offers up moments that feel like loving homages to scenarios in other films. Basketball, from Prometheus, the robotic cleaners; a nod to Silent Running, and other nods and winks are there for the movie fanatic to pick out at their leisure.

Tyldum, who specializes in the offbeat tale, manages to put everything together perfectly. The film looks brilliant and epic. The sets are spectacular while the editing and lighting are absolutely spot on.

This is a visual treat that may rely too heavily on a few cliches in order to offer up a pleasing payoff. Overall the film entertains, pleases and thrills so the manner of delivery does not, in the end, matter.

Rather interestingly, Andy Garcia has a cameo as the ship’s captain and his silent presence is somewhat puzzling although welcome. One can only assume that whatever lines the actor may have had wound up in the cutting room floor.

At almost two and a half hours long, the film could have drug in places but Tyldum keeps things interesting and the pace, while not too fast, works to keep the interest of the viewer at a constant rate.

This is another 5 star film. It could have suffered a half star loss, just for that “Hollywood” ending, but because we care about the characters there really was no other way for the film to finish.

Passengers is available on a number of platforms, i.e. Amazon, i-Tunes, et al and should be viewed immediately if not sooner.

Masters of Sex: The Eyes of God – Season 4 Finale (Review)


It is all change for Masters and Johnson in the season four finale of Masters of Sex.  “The Eyes of God” sees the end of one marriage and the beginning of another. Libby finds her true calling at Woodstock and Abe is more than willing to follow. Nancy throws one last monkey wrench into the offices of Masters and Johnson and Scully throws in the towel.

The finale was a real mixed bag.  The Art and Nancy storyline ended badly for all concerned. Art snitches on Nancy after learning that she lied about his not being the father of her baby.

Gini and Bill takes swift action to stop Nancy from opening a clinic and using their techniques. They also tackle Bob Drag and remind him about their contract.  Art leaves Nancy after finally realizing that he had sacrificed his happiness to stay with a woman who did not love him.

Nancy, in an act of vindictive cruelty, turns Barton against the man he thought of as a son for years by giving him a tape where Virginia talks about conversion therapy for homosexuals.

Art’s decision to leave was the best one, his wife seemingly was only ever going to be concerned with her own satisfaction, full stop. When Bob Drag learns that Art is now free, he kisses his former doctor in the men’s room.

Dressen wastes no time in telling Virginia that Bob is a practicing homosexual, which voids the work done and using Drag as patient zero in their book.

Caitlin Fitzgerald as Libby Masters

Libby’s week long sojourn at Woodstock changes her life and Abe’s. She has enrolled at Berkley to study law, much to Bill’s chagrin, and while it causes a bit of a problem initially, it is soon ironed out.

Abe tells Libby that he will uproot his life, quite a bold move in those days, and will follow her anywhere. He really does love the ex Mrs. Masters and as Libby tells Abe, evidence seems to indicate that she loves him as well.

There are a few hiccups along the way to Gini and Bill getting married. Guy volunteers to be their wedding planner and gets quite carried away. At one point he rings Hugh Hefner and arranges to have the wedding at the playboy mansion.

Virginia’s parents come on for the intake process. Bill talks to the couple while Gini listens in.  For her mother this is the last straw, she leaves full of indignation at the questions asked and Gini’s dad tells her that the marriage is now officially over.

Later Virginia meets with her mother and they talk. It turns out that both parents are more happy now they have decided to split up. In a surprise move, Dody stops by to see Bill as Gini is leaving.

Nancy tells Barton about the book.

Barton backs out of being the witness for Bill and Gini’s wedding after learning about the conversion plan. He also threatens to fight Bill with every resource available.

Gini waits anxiously for Bill who turns up just as she starts to leave. He has asked Guy to witness the ceremony and they finally get married.  When they leave a photographer is waiting and takes their picture.

Outside the courthouse a group of photographers take their picture. Libby reminds them all that they are “Masters and Johnson” not Dr. and Mrs. Masters. Bill looks decidedly perturbed by the whole thing while Gini smiles broadly.

Masters of Sex has been on top form this season.  Lizzy Caplan gave it her all and knocked a number of her performances right out of the park.  Annaleigh Ashford also managed to hit a series high with her storyline.

Kudos are in order for the entire cast. All the actors  were impressive and noteworthy for a number of reasons. Beau Bridges proved conclusively that his brother Jeff does not have all the chops in the family.

In terms of guest star performances, Sarah Silverman was brilliant as the doomed Helen. Niecy Nash also gave one hell of a performance as Louise. 

The Showtime jury is still out on whether or not Masters of Sex will return for another season.  With season four doing so well dramatically we can only hope to see more next year.


Guest starring Michael O’Keefe as Harry Eshelman, Frances Fisher as Ethel Eshelman, Danny Jacobs as Bob Drag, Kelli O’Hara as Dody and Beau Bridges as Barton Scully. 

Masters of Sex: Family Only – Tear Jerker (Review)

Masters of Sex poster

Masters of Sex “Family Only” was, point blank, a tear jerker.  Before the end credits rolled Betty lost everything; Helen dies and the baby is snatched by Helen’s parents. Bill fights against his attraction/love for Virginia and Libby has definitely moved on.

There is an interesting dynamic going on between  Nancy, Art and Virginia. Bill is oblivious to the whole thing till Nancy barges into the office to complain that Virginia is competing with her since sleeping with Art.

Nancy clearly means to replace Virginia, and possibly Bill, in the office. Taking over the intake procedure without checking with either Bill or Virginia was not, apparently, the first time that Nancy has hijacked clients from the business’s owners.

Now that Virginia and Bill know about the interception of their client, Nancy orders Art to steal the taped consult. It is a good move as Art can be heard promoting himself and Nancy as being better specialists.

He tells the couple that as they are married they can empathize more with their problems. Something Virginia and Bill cannot do as, obviously, they are not married.

Virginia forces Art to tell the truth about what happened at the coat party. Nancy is furious and later confronts her husband after having sex with a ex boyfriend.  Art lies and says that he and Virginia did have sex. As he describes what happened, Nancy becomes aroused.

Helen’s water breaks and there is bleeding. Sully arrives in time to speak with Nancy and then deliver the baby.

There are problems.

The infant is in the breech position and Sully opts for a caesarian.  The child is delivered but Sully is having problems “closing up.” Bill scrubs up and helps but after 16 transfusions, Helen bleeds out. She dies from a condition that prevents her blood from clotting properly.

Bill is distraught and Sully cries while washing Helen’s blood from his arms. Virginia holds Bill’s hand.

This was an interesting episode.  Libby proves, yet again, that she has embraced the legal world and is busy moving on. The full-frontal nudist camp was amusing and her date with Perlman was revealing. (Pun intended.)

Lester has been taking photographs of his wife cheating for 18 months. Art  is almost caught stealing the audio tape and he accuses Lester of taking pictures for that amount of time because he wants to.

The two main storylines however deal with Betty’s other half finally giving birth and then dying as well as Virginia’s revelation that Bill is the guy for her full stop.

Bill, who seems to be harboring the idea that he and Libby will get back together, does not react well when Virginia gives him the hotel key later in the episode.  She lays it all out and he tells Virginia that he does not trust her.

There is a double standard here.  He was perfectly free to mess about with Virginia while married to Libby, but is he is holding Dan against his former lover.  Considering  that Masters and Johnson did marry in real life and this is a bio-drama/romance clearly they will sort this all out.

Helen dying was not too unexpected. Something was bound to go wrong with this whole storyline. The Betty and Helen relationship was fraught with problems and clearly, Sarah Silverman was not going to be a long term regular on the show.

Somewhat annoyingly, this “Family Only” episode felt a tad contrived. Libby’s first date with Abe taking place at a nudist’s camp felt like a forced attempt at humor. It also seems to be rushing Bill’s soon-to-be ex into finding “herself.”

The death of Helen, which is what the title “Family Only” is alluding to, seemed to be there solely to tug at heartstrings.  While Virginia’s attempt to make Bill realize that their being together was another “win” for Lizzy Caplan in the performance stakes, the episode, over all, was somewhat lacking in the believability department.

Bob Drag showing up for a consult to cure his impotence was an interesting twist.  It will be interesting to see if he really is gay or is he has something else going on there.

Kudos to the brilliant Beau Bridges for that split second scene in the scrub room, manfully choking back tears while cleaning up. Nailed it.

Masters of Sex airs Sundays on Showtime.


Masters of Sex: Outliers – Moving On (Review)

Masters of Sex poster

The theme this week in Masters of Sex is moving on. Although last week’s episode could also be a build up to “Outliers” with Bill recognizing his infatuation with Virginia.  All evidence points to the two business partners also being the perfect match for one another in terms of relationships.

Virginia learned this last week with her bedroom  tête-à-tête with Art at the swingers party.  Bill is clued in by Libby, after a night of what he believes to be reconciliation.  It is, after a fashion, but Libby wants a fresh start and to clear any bad emotions between them.

She does not want to stay with Bill. Libby tells him that Virginia is his perfect match.  It is, she says, perfectly obvious that they make each other happy.

The court case continues and Perlman pushes for Bill to fight the charge of sexual deviancy.  Meanwhile Virginia, after her revelation that Bill is really the perfect match for her, makes her move on him.

She schedules a trip to New York to meet with Bob Drag as he dropped their second book option.  All big eyes and smiles, Virginia pours on the charm to convince Bill to attend the meeting.

He declines to go and focusses on his lawyer’s opening statement. He also, after Virginia leaves, zeroes on on Libby and sorting things out between them.

In the office, Nancy asks Art about how Virginia was in bed and he waffles.  Virginia then storms into Art’s office and tells him to reveal nothing happened.  Art still hesitates to tell Nancy the truth and instead implies that the offices are bugged.

Later, the couple find the recording equipment and Nancy is furious. She wants to leave immediately and Art talks her into staying.  In New York, Virginia corners Drag in his office and after a little pressure he takes her to the publisher’s mixer party.

He reveals that the new head of the company is demoting him.  It turns out that the big boss feels Bob is “a little light in the loafers.”  Virginia sorts Bob’s problem out by saying he is far from “light.”

She leaves New York with the book deal re-instated. Virginia also told the company head that the court case will yield enormous amounts of free publicity for the upcoming book.

Betty and Helen continue to have issues with Helen’s parents.  The couple have been staying with their daughter and helping her out during the last bit of her pregnancy.

Helen has been refusing to tell her parents about Betty.  After a long talk, she does reveal the truth about her partner. Her folks silently pack their bags and leave.  Helen is heartbroken, they will not answer her calls, and Betty explains that she is now Helen’s new family.

Bill decides to settle the court case rather than continue to fight it. The prosecution have found a bell hop who can testify to he and Virginia committing adultery. Rather than tarnish Virginia’s reputation, Bill agrees to the sexual deviancy charge and pays the $500 fine.

Virginia is touched and tells Bill that they are back where they belong; together.

Things are not quite that simple, however,  as Bill returns to the AA meeting and asks for help for his addition; Virginia.

This was a brilliant followup to last week’s episode.  It shows everyone, moving on from the dilemmas faced by the main characters.   (One nice touch was Bill firing and then rehiring Guy aka, Ghee.)

The episode highlight had to be Libby’s recitation of Missouri legal codes and their meaning while puffing on pot. An excellent chance to show just how intelligent the character is.

Masters of Sex also set up what will obviously be a minefield later on. The discovery of the recording equipment will cause huge eructions with the staff and the clients. Apparently no one thought to make either faction away that they are being taped.

Nancy’s doing the intake of Virginia’s well known clients also looks like it will cause problems later on.

Masters of Sex airs Sundays on Showtime.  Tune in and see where the sexy bio-drama goes next.


Masters of Sex: Coats or Keys – Swingers (Review)


Masters of Sex slips away from the office, except for a couple of scenes and moves into swinger territory.  “Coats or Keys” uses the setting of a sex party, hosted by Art and Nancy, to dig a bit deeper into the characters.

The beginning of the episode is the aftermath of that party. Linden has gotten lucky in the back seat of a station wagon and Virginia leaves Art’s bed. Bill is talking to someone off camera about mending their ways.

24 hours earlier, Nancy is worrying over the swingers party and Art explains that Bill will not be coming.  Masters and Johnson talk about the party. Bill says he cannot attend as it is his night with the kids. Virginia invites Lester.

Libby is in Bill’s office complaining about the dog he bought their kids.

“He shat Bill. He shat in the Barbie Dream House.”

In the office, Bill and Virginia each speak separately with the couple from last week.  As they speak with the sexually dysfunctional man and wife, it becomes clear that they are not compatible in the bedroom.

The backstory of each one features polar opposite cause and effect issues.  Gary had an overbearing father who ran over his family like a steamroller. Fran’s mother was the steamroller in her house. The woman demeaned and bullied her father non-stop.

As Bill and Virginia talk about secrets, she says “I’ve told you mine.” “Not all, I’m sure,” replies Bill.  Their discussion about the couple in treatment shadows what they need to do to repair their relationship.

Linden and Betty arrive at the party together. Both are telling each  other of miseries mentioned many times before.  Betty’s partner lying to her parents about their relationship and Lester’s wife messing around with balloon man.

Virginia and Libby arrive and like their office colleagues have no idea what the party really is. Virginia meets Michael, a friend of her “husband” Dan Logan. Things get awkward because he knows Dan and Alice.

Libby and Michael make a connection, although she still has no idea that this is a swinger’s party.  Soon after, Abe Perlman, Bill’s lawyer comes in and she tries unsuccessfully to avoid him.

Lester is too intoxicate to be appealing, he actually finishes the drink of the woman he is talking to, and Betty tells Virginia she needs to tell Bill about Dan.  After she agrees to tell him, Bill shows up wanting to know where the kids are.

Libby, discovering what the party is really all about combined with Bill’s arrival decides to leave.


The penny drops for Betty, Libby and Lester.

Art picks Virginia’s coat and Lester picks his drinking partner’s.  She declines and he steps outside. Betty plunks herself down next to the piano player.  She sticks with the only other “homo at the party” for moral support and to keep her coat from being picked.

Nancy goes off with her choice while Art and Virginia talk. The orgasmic sounds of Nancy and her sex partner can be heard through the walls. As the tempo and the volume increases, Art reveals that he is not an enthusiastic proponent of their open marriage.

Bill drives Libby home.  The couple get into a spirited discussion that ends in Bill performing oral sex on Libby. This opens the door to further interaction that goes far to mending any burnt bridges.  While not a reconciliation per se, they seem to have dampened her hostility.

Amusingly, it all starts with Bill granting Libby three wishes.

Hysterically, after Bill brings Libby to an orgasm she is still angry. Bill asks why? “Because that was great,” Libby replies. “We could have been doing that for 20 years.”

Lester hooks up with Cleo the caterer. They have a talk by the driveway and Cleo proves to have a brilliant sense of humor. She tells Linden that “nothing radical has ever been catered.”

Betty and the piano player; Guy, spend the evening singing show tunes and leave together at nine.  They end up sleeping in the two lab beds at the office.

Art and Virginia talk throughout the night. She reveals that to her, sex is a weapon or a tool with which she can vanquish other women.  She realizes that Bill was, and is still, her perfect mate. He is willing to “kiss her bruises” and to accept her as she is.

In the morning Art gives Virginia her keys and she grabs Libby’s coat. Bill has taken the new dog, Baxter, for a walk and when Virginia knocks on the door he answers it.  After an awkward moment she tells him about Dan and Bill reveals he knew already.


Bill responds with “I’ll see you at the office.”

“Coats or Keys” was, perhaps, the funniest episode of Masters of Sex this season. It was also the most poignant.  Letting the viewer into Virginia’s mind and showing how she really feels about sex, herself and Bill.

The two comic highlights of the episode were Libby’s “we could have been doing this for 20 years” and Cleo asking Lester to “say something sexy” as she approaches climax.

“Civil disobedience,” whispers Linden…

Masters of Sex ended with Virginia realizing that she really belongs with Bill. Meanwhile, he and  Libby seem to be on the road to reconciliation.

The series airs Sundays on Showtime. Tune in and see where all this self discovery leads.


Guest starring David Walton as Abe Perlman,  Enuka Okuma as Cleo and Nick Clifford as Guy.

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