Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Jennifer Lawrence

Passengers – Waking Up Ninety Years Too Soon


Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) is a writer after a great story. More than 5,000 people will ride the Avalon Starship into deep space where they will take up residence on a colony planet called Homestead II. There’s a hitch. Because that trip will take120 years, the passengers will avoid aging by hibernating in pods. Aurora has signed on for the journey so she can write a book about her adventure. After she reaches Homestead II, she plans to return to earth, ostensibly to have her book published. Talk about a long-range publishing plan!


Aurora’s strategy may not make much sense (who can imagine how much earth will have changed in 240 years? Books? What are they?), but Lawrence can somehow make even that zany premise intriguing. Of course, the best laid plans…One of the pods malfunctions, and Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), wakes up ahead of schedule. His only companion is the bartender, a charming droid named Arthur played by Michael Sheen. (Sheen has recently announced that he will put his acting on hold to focus on political activism. Hopefully, he won’t be gone for too long because his performance here is delightful.)

The Avalon is a luxurious vessel, similar to one of those huge cruise ships. Besides a large comfortable cabin, Preston is able to enjoy the gym, a swimming pool with an awe-inspiring view of space, a wide range of electronic games and entertainment, dining facilities, and, of course, the bar maintained by Arthur. But nothing can replace human companionship. Like Adam, Preston needs an Eve. Having come upon the pod occupied by Aurora (in a wink-wink, to the fairy tale, Aurora was the name of Sleeping Beauty), he wrestles with whether he should wake her up.


He spends some time debating the issue with Arthur, but doesn’t need much push to make up his mind. An engineer (his trip was paid for by the Homestead people because the planet needs settlers with technical skills), he quickly figures out how to program Aurora’s pod so that she will wake up. She’s devastated to learn that she won’t reach Homestead and, like Preston, will spend the rest of her life on the ship getting old.

Trying to make the best of a bad situation, the two spend their days enjoying what the ship has to offer – playing basketball in the gym, watching films, swimming, even donning space suits and enjoying a gravity-free walk among the stars. Nights are spent enjoying cocktails at Arthur’s bar and then dining in the cavernous restaurant. Aurora believes that her pod malfunctioned like Preston’s did. Now that she’s fallen for him, will the truth doom the relationship? If so, it will be a long, long trip.

Chris Pratt; Jennifer Lawrence

A second pod does malfunction, one carrying a crew member, Gus Mancuso, played by Laurence Fishburne. His arrival is well-timed since mechanical problems threaten to destroy the ship. What exactly has gone wrong is hard to discern, but the special effects are impressive. Aurora and Jim must work together to save themselves and everyone else on board.

Jon Spaihts, whose credits include Dr. Strange and Prometheus, first wrote the script for Passengers in 2007. The trade press described the film as being in “development hell,” for years with Keanu Reeves and Emily Blunt lined up to star at one point. Morten Tyldum, nominated for an Oscar for The Imitation Game, signed on to direct the film in 2015.

The film falls into the sci-fi category, but Tyldum reportedly wanted the film to be character-driven. Having  two very popular and likable young stars playing the leads is a plus. There’s a story behind that casting. Lawrence, who learned she was paid less than her male co-stars in the Oscar-nominated American Hustle, has been outspoken about pay inequality in Hollywood. When approached to star in Passengers, she held firm. As a result, Pratt was paid $12 million for the film, while Lawrence was paid $20 million.

Photos by Jamie Trueblood courtesy of Columbia Pictures

X-Men: Apocalypse – The X-Men Prepare for the End of the World


The X-Men franchise has been one of the most highly sustained superhero films for 16 years now. Six movies later, and there’s still some awe involved. In comparison to other films of its genre, and to other superhero characters in general, the X-men are probably the most relatable. The fact that they’re mutants fighting for equality speaks to a lot of the social issues that are still very relevant today. However, as a film, X-Men: Apocalypse is not the weakest movie of the franchise (that place is still held by X3: X-Men United), but the magnitude and character journeys aren’t as potent as they have been with its predecessors. Apocalypse is still entertaining and has some pretty good developments, but it isn’t as exciting as it touts itself to be and Oscar Isaac’s talent is wasted on a mediocre villain.

It’s been ten years since the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past and most everyone has gone their separate ways. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is now living the life of a normal man. He’s got a wife and daughter and works at a factory, his powers and hatred toward non-mutants seemingly set aside. Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) has opened up his home to serve as a school for mutants, Beast (Nicholas Hoult) still loyally by his side. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is working with other mutants, trying to help certain ones (like Nightcrawler, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) escape cruel treatment.

X-MEN: APOCALYPSEAside from the old crew of mutants, there are new ones in the fold. Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) has just developed powers, and so his brother Alex (Lucas Till) takes him to Xavier’s school where he can hone them and be a part of a community that accepts him. There, he meets Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), a powerful, but developing, telepath. Everything seems fine, but when CIA agent Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) is investigating a long-dead and very, very powerful mutant called Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) in Egypt, things take a turn for the worse when he is reawakened. One of the first mutants and a man who can absorb and use the powers of others, Apocalypse wants a new world order and wishes to throw the Earth into chaos in order to create a better one. Recruiting four mutants he calls Horsemen–Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Magneto–to help do his bidding, Xavier, Mystique and the rest must band together to try and stop him.

The film has a lot going on. There is the introduction of the new generation of mutants, the introduction of a new villain, and a reinstatement of Magneto as a character with motive. Some plot lines are wonderful, others eat up screen time without actually adding a whole lot to the overarching story. If you’ve been watching from the beginning, you know that Magneto (and his friendship with Xavier) has always been part of why the X-Men films worked. There was gravitas to his story, reason behind his actions, and a weight to his decisions. However, Apocalypse has almost formally renounced all of these things.

X-MEN: APOCALYPSEHaving said that, several of the older generation of mutants (Mystique, Magneto, Beast) have tapped out in a way, and it’s easy to assume that they’ve all played their parts long enough and now’s the time to move forward with the new mutants and their stories. I don’t want to continue seeing a washed-up Magneto, as there’s no more interest and no more purpose to the story to present him in this way any longer. The X-Men films have always been strong on the whole. Apocalypse retains entertainment value, introduces us to interesting characters, and has some action-packed scenes that please (the fight in the midst of the astral plane is fantastic!). However, the pitfalls of the film lie with Apocalypse as a villain. He isn’t very enthralling and lacks the sinister-like traits that have been promoted in the trailers. It’s the end of the world when Apocalypse shows up, but everything he does, from recruiting the Four Horsemen, to causing chaos, falls short and is underwhelming. The role isn’t as multifaceted and it’s hard to ultimately care about Apocalypse’s actions when they aren’t very clearly tied to the other characters in a more personal way. Apocalypse is just kind of there and his presence never warrants any excitement.

This is not to say that every aspect of Apocalypse is underwhelming. There is still plenty to enjoy. The introduction of Scott, Jean, Nightcrawler, and Storm rings in a new era of mutants. Their background stories are given a bit more weight than they ever were given in the first round of films. Jean, in comparison to the older version we first meet in X-Men, is a much more powerful psychic, and the film teases the botched Phoenix story from X3. By the looks of it, it’s the beginning stages of this arc (although how well it’ll play on the big screen without involving certain other elements is yet to be seen). The new recruits are the best part of the film. Their potential as a team is touched upon here and definitely sets up their teamwork and further character development moving forward.

X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t the event many may expect it to be, but it does introduce enough new characters and possible story lines for the next adventure. As for this film, the action is fun, the astral plane fight wonderful, the new mutants great, but the villain (and his plan) ultimately falls flat. It is the weakest film since X-Men: First Class and there are a lot of moments that are meant to be poignant that don’t follow through in terms of emotional impact or investment. Bryan Singer has potential to make the next film better, but until then, Apocalypse settles at being average.

X-Men: Apocalypse opens nationwide May 27, 2016.


  1. (from left) Jennifer Lawrence as Raven / Mystique, Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert, James McAvoy as Charles / Professor X, Lucas Till as Alex Summers / Havok and Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy / Beast. Photo Credit: Alan Markfield.
  2. Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.
  3. Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Jean (Sophie Turner) Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.