Friday, April 9

Voyagers Review


Dir: Neil Burger

Starring: Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp, Fionn Whitehead, and Chanté Adams

1h 48m



Writer/director Neil Burger takes William Golding's seminal novel, Lord of the Flies, and reframes it on a spaceship on an interplanetary mission to save humanity in Voyagers. Instead of an abandoned island, the drama shifts to deep space isolation inside a technologically advanced life vessel slowly hurtling towards new horizons. The idea is ripe for exploration, but Voyagers often relies on familiar archetypes and generic solutions to define its path. 


Earth is becoming uninhabitable, and a group of scientifically bred children is the only hope for humanity. On a spaceship capable of sustaining life for an 86-year voyage, the mission consists of a mix of young men and women who have roles and responsibilities to keep the mission alive. To maintain a docile harmony between the young people living in the secluded craft, they are chemically altered with a drink known as "blue." The beverage keeps the typically hormonal teens from becoming too preoccupied with complicated feelings or impulses that would jeopardize the mission. 

Christopher (Tye Sheridan) and Zac (Fionn Whitehead) are the first to discover that "blue" is a drug to control their urges and suppress their maturing hormones. The ship's captain, Richard (Colin Farrell), the father-figure on board the vessel who has been with the mission since the children were born, is the only crew member who understands the delicate nature of blossoming emotions for these young people. Christopher and Zac, wanting to "feel" everything, are the first to stop drinking "blue." They slowly begin to feel sensations they have never felt before, the surge of testosterone that finds them competitively racing down the ship's long corridors and wrestling aggressively in front of their bemused fellow crew members. These feelings grow more robust, rule-breaking, sexual frustrations, and violence begin to take hold. 


Voyagers' beginning introduces fascinating ideas about human nature's struggles, the urges, temptations, and needs that compose many of life's moral challenges. These questions and insights are slighted for much broader, more familiar strokes of narrative conflict. Burger's drama focuses on the power struggle between Christopher and Zac, and because these characters aren't complex individuals, the result only composes surface-level suspense and rudimentary thrills. 


Sheridan and Whitehead do the best they can with the characters they are provided. Lily-Rose Depp is a strong presence who deserves more character-building than simply fueling the conflict between the two male leads. Farrell isn't offered much time to shine aside from a few video diary entries that propose the interesting narrative elements not explored.  


Voyagers may not have the story to sustain engagement from start to finish. Still, the technical design is visually striking and keeps attention connected to the action happening within the frame. The production design makes a maze out of the spaceship's interior, with long corridors and hidden rooms assisting the tension when the chase eventually happens. Director of photography, Enrique Chediak, does a good job of using the spaceship to the highest benefit of the rising conflict. As attitudes grow more aggressive and ambitions turn dangerous between the crew, the spacecraft seems to grow more claustrophobic. Chediak compliments the story's themes, helping to keep the action engaging and attractive even when the narrative runs out of steam.


Voyagers has an engaging story hiding between the scenes that compose this film. While the movie maintains a decent pace from start to finish, this familiar tale's journey rarely explores the intriguing themes within this Lord of the Flies inspired space story. 


Monte's Rating

2.25 out of 5.00


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