by Alaisdair Leith
Writer/Director Neil Burger crafts a sci fi epic that boasts a great concept but fails to launch as it tries to be Lord of The Flies in Space rather than its own story. While this could be excused, slopped editing and slow pacing drag this movie down into forgettable territory. It’s not all bad though, great casting choices with Colin Farrell and charismatic leads Tye Sheridan and Lily-Rose Depp maintain interest in the film but failing that there isn’t much else here.
Voyagerstells the story of a spaceship travelling from earth to a distant planet that can sustain human life. The problem is it takes 87 years to get there. So Earth sends a ship full of toddlers and Richard (Farrell) as their guardian to maintain the ship, have children and train them so they can continue human beings existence on a planet far far away. When a death on the ship throws the order out of whack, things turn into Lord of the Flies and the group must band together if they are to survive and reach the destination safely while raising the next generation to ensure the survival of the human race.
The premise is what really resonated with me, too often we have seen evacuations of earth to go to other planets, concerned with conserving life, here instead the concern is human beings persevering and continuing with no connection to anyone who will be left alive on Earth after the impeding implosion. The introduction of the alien and the awakening of the coming of age teenagers on board the ship is meant to be invigorating but it just comes off as creepy and in the “me too” era, watching guys grab girls without even talking to them or showing a history of their relationship is a little disturbing to watch.
Edits on the film are blaringly obvious with a hint that a darker edit of this film exists somewhere. While there may be no hashtag #ReleaseTheBurgerCut coming anytime soon, when Christopher (Sheridan) and Zac (Fionn Whitehead) stop taking their Blue vitamin drink spiked with a chemical to keep the teenagers docile and compliant. There is a weird cut to flowers blooming, rockets exploding and other weird images that keeps happening during the film and goes on for way too long. The third time it happens it is just mind boggling as to why this is such a big part of the movie.
As the shift in the characters go from placid to crazed teenagers getting their first taste of what it is to be human, each character tends to go a little too extreme. As the two leads struggle to retain control of the crew and get them to stay under control, the opposing encouragement from Zac who wants to be the new chief seems a little too easy to influence the other crew members. The rest of the travellers don’t have too much personality that make them memorable which is a real let down and a huge part of why this film just doesn’t work.
While this side is lacking, what does work are the visuals of the inside ship. The endless white corridors with access pads to doors give that feeling of being claustrophobic, stuck in an endless existence with the same process every day. The design from Scott Chambliss and the access points throughout the ship help show the size of the ship and how everyday would look the same.
Voyagers is a great concept weighed down by a poor script and one dimensional characters that never get off the ground. While the general flow of the film has its ups and downs, overall it just doesn’t have enough in the tank to maintain interest for its 2 hour run time. Hopefully it is a great platform for Rose and Sheridan for future projects.
Voyagers is in cinemas now
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