When weighing the plot of the new movie "Passengers," it's virtually impossible not to consider the broader context of humanity's growing reliance on technology, society's deepening interest in commercial space travel — and the Herculean task facing billionaires pioneering the development of the modern era's space race.
"Passengers," in which two space travelers (played by A-listers Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt) aboard an intergalactic ship with about 5,000 other voyagers awaken far too early, may have invented its own genre that might be called science-fiction romantic comedy.
It takes place against a backdrop of a commercial space industry that's entering hyper drive, allowing citizens to ponder the concept of journeying to another planet with the facility of catching a flight or hopping on a cruise.
With vast sums being poured into space exploration — the Space Foundation estimates at least $120 billion was devoted to commercial space travel in 2015 — the movie may provoke some thought among those looking to bolt Earth for greener planetary pastures.
Using a cascading series of technology shortcomings and catastrophic failures, "Passengers" pointedly challenges the premise behind commercial space travel, which Virgin Galactic delineates as "democratizing access to space for the benefit of life on Earth."