Thursday, April 8, 2021

Voyagers Review: A Near Future Lord of the Flies

Tye Sheridan	...	Christopher Lily-Rose Depp	Lily-Rose Depp	...	Sela Fionn Whitehead	Fionn Whitehead	...	Zac Chanté Adams	Chanté Adams	...	Phoebe Quintessa Swindell	Quintessa Swindell	...	Julie Archie Madekwe	Archie Madekwe	...	Kai Isaac Hempstead Wright	Isaac Hempstead Wright	...	Edward Viveik Kalra	Viveik Kalra	...	Peter Madison Hu	Madison Hu	...	Anda Archie Renaux	Archie Renaux	...	Alex Wern Lee	Wern Lee	...	Tayo Colin Farrell	Colin Farrell	...	Richard April Grace	April Grace	...	Mission Director Laura Dreyfuss	Laura Dreyfuss	...	IVF Technician Veronica Falcón	Veronica Falcón	...	Marianne Sancar

Release date: April 9, 2021
Running time: 108 minutes
Cast: Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp, Fionn Whitehead, Chanté Adams, Quintessa Swindell, Archie Madekwe, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Viveik Kalra
Written and Directed By: Neil Burger

With the future of the human race at stake, a group of young men and women, bred for intelligence and obedience, embark on an expedition to colonize a distant planet. But when they uncover disturbing secrets about the mission, they defy their training and begin to explore their most primitive natures. As life on the ship descends into chaos, they’re consumed by fear, lust, and the insatiable hunger for power. 

Patrick Bucur	...	Christopher - 4 years old Rufus Bateman	Rufus Bateman	...	Zac - 4 years old Jaquelin Capusan	Jaquelin Capusan	...	Sela - 4 years old Rafi Wilder	Rafi Wilder	...	Christopher - 8 years old (as Raphael Wilder) Antonia Dragoman	Antonia Dragoman	...	Sela - 8 years old Lou Llobell	Lou Llobell	...	Zandie Reda Elazouar	Reda Elazouar	...	Mallick Mariska Ariya	Mariska Ariya	...	Maya Theodor Soptelea	Theodor Soptelea	...	Paul (as Theadore Soptelea) Andrei Cristian Anghel	Andrei Cristian Anghel	...	Andrei (as Andrei Anghel) Vu Hoang Viet	Vu Hoang Viet	...	Vu Saleh Mohamed Daoud	Saleh Mohamed Daoud	...	Moos (as Saleh Mohamed) Pan Jiaqiang	Pan Jiaqiang	...	Pan Nicholas Samuel Sealey	Nicholas Samuel Sealey	...	Sam (as Samuel Sealey) Elena Raducanu	Elena Raducanu	...	Elena Ioana Brumar	Ioana Brumar	...	Mihaela Julienne Kadima	Julienne Kadima	...	Kadima Phan T. Thao	Phan T. Thao	...	Phan Petruta Petrea	Petruta Petrea	...	Petra
I really loved the premise of Voyagers; a sci-fi colonization mission that bucks the trend by having the characters procreate while they travel rather than have some cryogenic freeze gone wrong.  It makes for some interesting questions that are presented in this film; how do you counteract boredom and monotony, and how do you stay motivated when you will never live to see the end of the mission?  And the film does an amazing job of setting the stage and building out this sci-fi world.  I love how bland the film made the introduction seem; the crew is meant to avoid any sort of influences and stimuli, so their life feels industrial, manufactured, and disinfected.  The ship has your typical white, space age style which only contributes to this feeling.  And the fact that everyone was trained to do their job and do it well also contributes to the overall feel of a factory rather than a life. 

And in fitting with the theme of creating a new generation, the cast of Voyagers features a lot of up and coming actors.  From the old guard, Colin Farrell is by far my favorite in this film and Voyagers allows him to show his more caring, dramatic side.  He acts as their mentor and surrogate parent, listening to the crew's problems, offering solutions and stern rebukes when needed.  Tye Sheridan shows why he is so well regarded with a performance similar to those he is known for; quiet and interesting with a strength of character that shines through.  And Lily-Rose Depp is another strong character, although she is outwardly more reserved than many of the other leads, at least initially.  And I was pleasantly surprised to see Archie Madekwe, who I loved in Midsommer, have a substantive and decidedly more complicated role.

The story of Voyagers starts off slowly, but as the crew gains more curiosity and experiences life, the gravity of the story increase and the chaos grows.  The film escalates quickly once the crew begins to let themselves go, almost a little too quickly.  Despite the very interesting premise, the film begins to feel like a near future Lord of the Flies, with the chaos, infighting, and unchecked emotion.  I wouldn't be surprised if writer / director Neil Burger counted that book as inspiration for the story of Voyagers.  But the story also has a decent number of twists to keep you interested and also features a nice mix of drama and action as the chaos escalates.  It was never boring and I loved the concepts that were explored.

And as a science fiction film, the effects and setting were perfect.  The ship has a wonderful science fiction aesthetic and the few scenes in space had some really good sound design.  However, when the film highlights the characters giving into their emotions, it has a heavy handed sequence of images that just feels a little too much.  The story also leaves one major mystery unexplained, but maybe they are saving that for a sequel.  And the movie generally has a strong use of sci-fi effects with little noticeable CG, but there is a sequence at the end that is distracting and definitely breaks some immersion.  And finally, there are some scenes involving space that don't accurately represent what would happen out there.  Although these make for some exciting sequences, the lack of accuracy was distracting. 

Voyagers is a near future Lord of the Flies, with a clever premise, an all star cast, and a story fueled by the emotions and hubris of youth. 

Rent it.

Directed by  Neil Burger	...	(directed by)Writing Credits   Neil Burger	...	(written by)   science fiction space mission colonize colony save earth
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Voyagers is available in theaters nationwide on April 9, 2021.  For showtimes, click here

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