Musical Score By: Thomas Newman
Distributed by: Sony Music
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In the science fiction film Passengers, Chris Pratt is Jim Preston, a mechanical engineer aboard the starship Avalon. Avalon is supposed to be transporting over five thousand colonists to the planet Homestead II. This is a journey that takes 120 years. Unfortunately, a malfunction occurs and Preston is taken out of suspended animation ninety years early. After a year with no one to keep him company by the android bartender (Michael Sheen), Jim begins to think about suicide…until he notices Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), a writer, still asleep in her pod. Re-animating Aurora is a moral dilemma, but Preston soon gets over it and the two develop a romantic relationship. But when more pod failures begin to take place and a major malfunction places them in the path of an asteroid, it will be all the two can do to get the ship back on course in time to save the rest of the colonists.
The musical score of Passengers was created by award-winning American composer Thomas Newman. Born to composer Alfred Newman and part of a film-scoring legacy that features his father, his brother David Newman, sister Maria Newman, uncles Lionel and Emil Newman and cousins Randy and Joey Newman, Thomas Newman began his scoring career in the late 1970s with The Paper Chase. Since then, he has created musical scores for a multitude of films, including Fried Green Tomatoes, Scent of a Woman, Little Women, How to Make an American Quilt, The Horse Whisperer, White Oleander, Towelhead, Brothers, The Help, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and more.
The Passengers Soundtrack was not what I was expecting from a science fiction film. Though there are some futuristic electronic scifi tones, most of the score is orchestral with a piano lead. To me, it seems that the piano actually represents Jim Preston and his loneliness onboard the Avalon until he revives Aurora. The two together are represented by violins. Ominous and dark brass and woodwinds describe the danger as the ship begins to malfunction. The final track, Sugarcoat the Galaxy, is the most futuristic of the whole album, featuring synths and a choir.
When I wasn’t quite sure what Passengers was about, this score was definitely surprising, but now that I realize it is a romantic film as well, the score definitely makes sense. Fans of the film will definitely want to get their hands on the soundtrack, but the Passengers Soundtrack is definitely something worth listening to as a standalone album. Thomas Newman’s score for Passengers tells a sweeping story of loneliness, happiness, outright despair, joy…it runs the gamut of emotions and culminates into a quirky scifi synth track to tie it all up. A highly enjoyable listen!