“The Passengers” and The Coffee from the Hell

DISCLAIMER: This post contains spoilers! Don’t say I haven’t told you 😀

A few days ago it was a solo night for me; completely broken from the busy day I just wanted to lie in the sofa and watch something – which you can easily find on Netflix, of course.
So I went on the website scrolled a bit and noticed “The Passengers” movie, one that gave me a bit of nostalgic feeling as it reminded when I was working in a cinema close to my house in Italy.

It was the perfect match for the night, and I spent the next two hours watching a movie which gave me the impression of being a forced revisit of Titanic with that damn happy ending we all wished at least once.
Nice (but not memorable) I had enjoyed almost all the flick apart from one, highly frustrating scene:

Annoying, isn’t it?
Then I realized I have become such a UX nerd that I can’t watch a damn thing without noticing design issues all along, and be irritated by those.
So my face turned out to be exactly like Jim’s, after that cursed coffee:

“Yeah, sure…no problem with it”

Anyway, I try to contextualize the scene to who didn’t have the chance to watch the movie:

Our lovely Chris Pratt is Jim Preston, a passenger of the Avalon, a futuristic and super technologic (and luxurious) spaceship which was sent for the first time in the history from the Earth to colonize a new planet called Homestead II. For an unfortunate series of events, he ends up being the only one to be awakened by accident from the hibernation state (he was put in along with plenty of other passengers and ship crew) 90 years before the ship would reach the destination. Crisis, loneliness, the attempt of using the ship features, almost suicided…bla, bla. Happy ending.

Well, as you can guess, he was already pretty frustrated because of the unexpected situation so – I was thinking by myself – why the team of architects, engineers, science big heads and everybody who matters in the Avalon project didn’t give a damn think about the final users?!
In my head, I can hear them say: “Sorry, we prefer to repeat sorry a thousand times instead”…Jeez.
Of course, I am aware that the scene was meant to be overwhelming and frustrating, to connect the audience with the main character through empathy, but let’s pretend we were in the movie as part of the designing team of the spaceship.

So, I spent a further 5 minutes visualizing in my head what could have been the best solution to make the passengers comfortable without having a machine repeating them continuously how much miserable they are, (then I had to watch again the missed five minutes of the movie to catch at it once more…), and following find the result.


A quick analysis made me realize that only a little screen in the middle works with the touch and all the display around is just like a magnifier lens – I was very disappointed with that; a super technologic spaceship which cut the cost on touchscreens?


Anyway, a very quick one. There might be plenty of better solutions, but I came up with it just in that short time while the movie was playing on the TV:

  • The screen is all touch, so that’s easy for elderly passengers to use it as well. Texts and images are huge.
  • If you can have a large coffee, it means you should afford a small or medium one too, right? So pick up your choice 🙂
  • The screen gives suggestions of what you could buy and displays the amount of money you need to add to purchase it. This work perfectly in two ways: you invite your customers to spend more (pushed by gluttony) while they are aware of the expense needed for that (demonstrating 100% transparency and building trust with the client).
  • I understand the spaceship-style is very minimal, but we are talking about food, and to sell it at best it is advisable to display pictures of the product. This alone will increase gluttony at 200%.

Then, being enough curious to discover if someone else has already written about this topic, I looked around the net and eventually found Rachel’s UX post about “The Passengers” (check it out guys, it is worth); she has indeed done a proper UX review about the whole movie, finding several issues with the Avalon project (including the obvious one of the coffee which I am talking about in this post).

Hope you can still enjoy the movie now, and if you end up to watch it, let me know all your UX discovers with a comment and share it with the community! 


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