In this blog post, we delve into a unique collection of films that resonate with the intriguing blend of romance, suspense, science fiction, and existential drama found in the 2016 space odyssey, "Passengers".
Whether it’s the loneliness of space, the thrill of survival in uncharted territories, or the complexity of human emotions in extreme conditions, each movie on our list offers a distinct perspective that echoes these themes.
From the mind-bending escapades in "Inception" (2010) to the haunting beauty of "The Fountain" (2006), our selection is tailored for those who crave stories that combine deep emotional undertones with the boundless possibilities of science fiction.
Prepare to embark on an interstellar adventure through narratives that challenge, entertain, and provoke thought, just as "Passengers" did.
"Inception" is a masterful blend of science fiction and psychological thriller, directed by Christopher Nolan. The film follows Dom Cobb, an expert in the art of infiltrating dreams to steal secrets. The storyline weaves through layered dreamscapes, challenging perceptions of reality and illusion, much like "Passengers" blurs the lines between simulated and actual experiences. Both films share a deep exploration of the human psyche, with "Inception" focusing on the complexities of the subconscious. The themes of love, loss, and redemption are central to both narratives, although "Inception" presents these in a more cerebral, twist-filled plot.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, "Interstellar" is a grandiose tale of space exploration and the human drive to survive. The film follows a group of astronauts traveling through a wormhole in search of a new habitable planet for humanity. Like "Passengers", "Interstellar" delves into the emotional turmoil of leaving loved ones behind and the sacrifices made for the greater good. Both films beautifully showcase the vastness and mystery of space, but "Interstellar" takes a more expansive approach, incorporating themes of time, love, and the endurance of the human spirit across dimensions.
"Gravity" is a visually stunning and emotionally gripping survival story set in the vast emptiness of space. The film centers on Dr. Ryan Stone, an astronaut who becomes stranded in orbit after a catastrophic accident. Similar to "Passengers", "Gravity" explores themes of isolation, resilience, and the human will to survive against overwhelming odds. While "Passengers" delves into the dynamics of human relationships in isolation, "Gravity" focuses on the solitary struggle and inner journey of its protagonist, offering a more introspective and intense experience of solitude in space.
The Martian (2015)
"The Martian" centers on the gripping tale of Mark Watney, an astronaut accidentally left behind on Mars. Struggling for survival in a hostile environment, he uses his ingenuity and spirit to stay alive, hoping for rescue. Like "Passengers", it delves into the themes of isolation and the human will to survive under extraordinary circumstances. However, "The Martian" infuses more humor and a strong focus on problem-solving and resilience. Both films showcase the strength of the human spirit and the challenges of unexpected, prolonged isolation, albeit "The Martian" does so with a lighter, more optimistic tone.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
In "Blade Runner 2049", a sequel to the classic "Blade Runner", the story expands into a neo-noir tale set in a dystopian future. The film explores themes of identity, memory, and humanity through the eyes of a new blade runner, Officer K. Like "Passengers", it deals with profound existential questions and loneliness, but in a context rich with futuristic aesthetics and moral dilemmas. The movie's contemplative and visually stunning narrative shares a philosophical depth with "Passengers", focusing on what it means to be human and the search for connection in a world where reality can be ambiguous.
Ana de Armas
2 degrees of seperation (similar to Blade Runner 2049)
"Arrival" is a thought-provoking science fiction film about communication and understanding. When mysterious alien spacecrafts land on Earth, linguist Louise Banks is recruited to decipher their language. The movie, much like "Passengers", combines a sense of wonder with deep emotional resonance. It explores themes of time, memory, and the human capacity for connection. While "Passengers" focuses on the relationship between two individuals in an isolated environment, "Arrival" expands this concept to a global scale, examining humanity's place in the universe and the power of communication to bridge divides. Both films leave a lasting impression with their exploration of love, choice, and destiny.
Julia Scarlett Dan
Carmela Nozza Guizzo
2 degrees of seperation (similar to Arrival)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
This film is a unique blend of romance and science fiction, where a couple undergoes a procedure to erase each other from their memories after a painful breakup. Its exploration of love, memory, and identity shares thematic parallels with "Passengers", especially in how both films delve into the complexities of relationships and the consequences of life-altering decisions. Unlike the space setting of "Passengers", "Eternal Sunshine" is grounded in a more familiar world, yet both films challenge the viewer to think about the nature of love and the pain of loss. The emotional depth and the unconventional narrative structure make it a standout exploration of human emotions.
Thomas Jay Ryan
"Her" is set in a near-future where a lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with an AI operating system. This film, like "Passengers", explores themes of loneliness, connection, and the nature of relationships in an unusual setting. The central character's journey through love, heartache, and self-discovery mirrors the emotional complexity found in "Passengers". Both films question what it means to love and to be human in scenarios where typical societal norms are absent. "Her" takes a more introspective and subtle approach, focusing on the psychological and emotional aspects rather than the physical challenges of "Passengers".
Ex Machina (2015)
"Ex Machina" is a thought-provoking thriller about a young programmer who is selected to participate in a groundbreaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a highly advanced humanoid AI. This film shares with "Passengers" themes of isolation, ethical dilemmas, and the nature of consciousness. While "Passengers" deals with human relationships in an isolated environment, "Ex Machina" probes the relationship between human and AI, raising questions about what makes us truly human. Both films are set against the backdrop of technological advancement and explore the psychological effects of unique and confined environments. "Ex Machina" stands out for its intense focus on the moral implications of artificial intelligence.
Symara A. Templeman
"Looper" is a riveting sci-fi thriller that intertwines time travel with a gritty narrative of destiny and moral choices. In a future where time travel exists but is illegal, the film follows Joe, a "looper" hired to eliminate targets sent back in time by a crime syndicate. The movie's central theme of confronting one's past and future selves resonates with the existential aspects of "Passengers", where characters also face their life choices in unforeseen circumstances. Like "Passengers", "Looper" combines action with deep emotional and philosophical undercurrents, examining the consequences of actions and the complex nature of human decision-making. However, "Looper" takes a darker and more action-oriented approach to its narrative.
In "Oblivion", Jack Harper serves as a security repairman on an Earth left devastated after a war with aliens. The film is imbued with a sense of mystery and isolation, as Jack uncovers the truth about the war's aftermath and his own identity. This post-apocalyptic tale shares with "Passengers" themes of isolation, memory, and the search for truth. Both films delve into the psyche of their protagonists as they navigate through extraordinary circumstances, uncovering startling revelations about their existence. "Oblivion", like "Passengers", combines stunning visuals with a storyline that is both emotionally engaging and thought-provoking, exploring the concept of identity and the human connection in extreme settings.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
"Edge of Tomorrow" is an action-packed sci-fi film where Major William Cage finds himself caught in a time loop, reliving the same brutal battle against alien invaders. The movie blends high-octane action with a clever narrative, reminiscent of "Passengers" in its unexpected twists and exploration of time. Though more action-focused, both films share a theme of characters thrust into extraordinary situations, forcing them to adapt and grow. "Edge of Tomorrow" also explores the idea of second chances and learning from past experiences, similar to how the characters in "Passengers" must come to terms with their new reality and make critical decisions for survival. The film combines thrilling action with a thought-provoking story about resilience, strategy, and the human will to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.
2 degrees of seperation (similar to Edge of Tomorrow)
"Moon" presents a gripping story set on a lunar base, where Sam Bell, nearing the end of his three-year solo stint, starts experiencing strange occurrences. The film delves into themes of isolation, identity, and humanity, much like "Passengers". As Sam uncovers startling truths about his mission and himself, the movie explores the psychological and ethical implications of solitude and cloning. This thought-provoking narrative, akin to "Passengers", portrays the emotional and mental toll of space isolation but with a more introspective and existential twist, focusing on what it means to be human in the vastness of space.
"Gattaca" is set in a future where genetic engineering determines one's life path. The film follows Vincent, born naturally and thus considered inferior, who dreams of space travel. Much like "Passengers", it explores themes of destiny, desire, and breaking free from societal constraints. Vincent's struggle against his predetermined role echoes the unexpected life course changes faced by the characters in "Passengers". Both films highlight human resilience and the pursuit of dreams against all odds, albeit "Gattaca" does so in a more dystopian setting, focusing on the implications of genetic discrimination and the enduring spirit of human ambition.
"Solaris" is a hauntingly beautiful film that explores the emotional depths of human consciousness. Psychologist Chris Kelvin is sent to investigate a space station orbiting the mysterious planet Solaris, only to encounter inexplicable phenomena, including the manifestation of his late wife. Like "Passengers", "Solaris" deals with themes of love, loss, and the human psyche in the isolation of space. Both films delve into the psychological effects of space travel and the profound impact of isolation on the mind. However, "Solaris" takes a more philosophical and introspective approach, focusing on the nature of reality, memory, and the complexities of human emotion in a sci-fi setting.
More Hidden Gems Like 'Passengers'
In the "Underrated Gems" section, we spotlight lesser-known yet remarkable films that echo "Passengers" in their exploration of space, existential themes, and human connection.
Each film, from the chilling depths of "Pandorum" (2009) to the introspective journey of "High Life" (2018), offers a unique, thought-provoking experience.
The Fountain (2006)
"The Fountain" is a visually captivating and emotionally intense film that weaves together three parallel stories spanning over a thousand years. It explores themes of love, mortality, and the quest for eternal life, mirroring the emotional depth and existential questions in "Passengers". The film features a 16th-century conquistador, a 21st-century scientist, and a space traveler in the 26th century, all connected through their pursuits to save the women they love. Much like "Passengers", "The Fountain" delves into the complexities of human relationships against a backdrop of space and time, presenting a poetic and philosophical exploration of life's perpetual cycle.
Sean Patrick Thomas
Mr. Nobody (2009)
"Mr. Nobody" is a unique and mind-bending tale of Nemo Nobody, the last mortal on Earth, who reflects on his life and the various paths it could have taken. This film shares with "Passengers" the theme of making pivotal life choices under extraordinary circumstances. As Nemo reminisces about his life's different trajectories, the film delves into themes of love, regret, and the myriad possibilities that life presents, reminiscent of the existential dilemmas faced in "Passengers". Both films challenge the viewer to contemplate how choices define our lives, blending a rich tapestry of speculative fiction with profound emotional resonance.
"Sunshine" is a tense and atmospheric science fiction thriller about a team of astronauts on a mission to reignite the dying sun and save Earth. The film shares with "Passengers" a sense of claustrophobic isolation and the burden of a critical mission in space. As the crew nears their destination, they face psychological and physical challenges, mirroring the themes of survival and human vulnerability seen in "Passengers". "Sunshine" combines the awe of space exploration with a gripping narrative, highlighting the fragility of the human psyche when confronted with the vastness and dangers of the cosmos.
High Life (2018)
"High Life" is a haunting narrative set in the expanse of deep space, where a group of criminals are sent on an alternative energy-finding mission near a black hole. The movie explores the extremities of human behavior under isolation, similar to "Passengers" but with a more sinister edge. It's a tale of survival, ethical boundaries, and the innate human need for connection and redemption. The film delves deeply into the psyche of its characters, much like "Passengers" explores the psychological impact of loneliness and unforeseen circumstances on its protagonists. However, "High Life" takes a more avant-garde and unsettling approach to these themes, creating a stark contrast to the more mainstream narrative of "Passengers".
Another Earth (2011)
In "Another Earth", the discovery of a mirror Earth sets the backdrop for a story rich in introspection and emotional complexity. Rhoda, a promising young student, becomes entwined in a tragic accident, leading her to confront profound existential questions. This film, while less focused on the sci-fi elements than "Passengers", shares a deep exploration of guilt, redemption, and the human condition. The parallel Earth concept offers a unique twist, presenting opportunities for second chances akin to the unexpected new life the characters in "Passengers" must embrace. Both films beautifully weave human drama with the backdrop of space, presenting a poignant look at the paths not taken and the choices that define us.
"Pandorum" is a gripping blend of science fiction and horror, where the terror of the unknown plays a central role. Two astronauts awaken on a spacecraft, disoriented and with no memory of their mission, similar to the early moments of "Passengers". However, "Pandorum" takes a darker turn, as they discover they are not alone and must fight for survival against unforeseen horrors. The film masterfully creates an atmosphere of claustrophobia and suspense, exploring the psychological horrors of space in a way that's more intense and visceral than "Passengers". While both movies share themes of isolation and the unexpected challenges of space travel, "Pandorum" leans more into the realm of psychological thriller and horror.
Europa Report (2013)
"Europa Report" offers a realistic and gripping portrayal of space exploration, following a team of astronauts on a mission to confirm potential sources of life on Jupiter's moon, Europa. This film shares with "Passengers" a sense of awe and wonder at the vastness of space, as well as the isolation and danger inherent in space travel. The crew's journey is fraught with challenges and sacrifices, highlighting the resilience and determination of the human spirit in the face of the unknown. Like "Passengers", "Europa Report" combines the thrill of discovery with the emotional depth of its characters, creating a compelling narrative that is both scientifically intriguing and deeply human.
Isiah Whitlock Jr.