“Voyagers” is written and directed by Neil Burger who’s known for films such as “The Illusionist” and “The Lucky Ones”. It stars Colin Farrell, Lily-Rose Depp, Tye Sheridan, and Fionn Whitehead. This is a bit of a sci-fi thriller, layered with dramatic themes, sprinkled with elements of horror. But does it all come together to equal an entertaining ride?
Where “Voyagers” Thrives
Jumping into the positives I would start with the overall premise. It was interesting, and actually a little thought-provoking. You have this multi-generation mission in space. It’s an 86-year flight to get where they’re going. So, to combat the human urge and tendency to want to return to Earth, to their normal lives, embryos are used to breed humans that will be born on the ship, who will know nothing about the way of life on Earth, other than what they’ve been told. Thus, curing the human desire to return. Something aided by daily medical treatments to numb their pleasure sensors.
All of these ideas were fascinating. The concept of engineering humans to embark on long space missions, all the while desensitizing their endorphins was honestly compelling. There are all kinds of ways this can go wrong. So, I was locked in early on, and genuinely interested in where things would go, and how. Naturally, once a few of them decide not to take the daily meds, things fall apart. That’s sort of where the film does as well in my opinion, but overall, I think it had a solid first-act.
I liked the performances as well. I enjoyed Sheridan and Depp together. They didn’t break-out of familiar character cliches, but they do make it all work. There’s a sincerity in their characters that I found appealing. Depp’s the more vocal one. Sheridan was the quiet, but capable thinker, and I think they bring the needed effort to carry the film as best as possible. Colin Farrell was cool and capable as always. I also enjoyed Fionn Whitehead. I hated his character. Every time he was onscreen, he got under my skin which was the point. So, great work on his part for really delivering what was needed.
Where “Voyagers” Stumbles
I liked the idea they were going with. If humans had no rules. Would they live life normally, or let their indulgences consume them in whatever destructive path that may be? Thus, proving rules and laws are essential to coexistence. How this story decides to develop and explore these concepts, was a bit superficial, and in terms of mental exploration, it was a tad surface-level. I didn’t really invest in the character dynamics among this group. I felt characters made odd choices to simply create a divide in the group, and to maneuver the plot where needed. So, while it had moments of effective suspense. The emotional actions and reactions of the characters felt a little manipulated, and too matter-of-fact. Something I felt was unusual for people, who despite being younger, were highly trained and intelligent beyond their years.
I had a good time with this movie, but it wasn’t one that I would say lured me in and kept me engaged. That intrigue built early on was somewhat lost once things got going, and from there it sort of feels like a sanitized version of a story that could’ve had much more of a dramatic impact. It could work for teens though. That’s clearly the target demo here. It feels like a thin YA adaption of something that had the potential to be much denser. It certainly had its moments. However, by the time the wild finale kicked in, it had long since been realized that this movie was a crisp assembly line sci-fi thriller that never planned on diving fully into its concepts.
Final Verdict on “Voyagers”
The cinematography was excellent. The production design and use of lighting was nicely-done as well. It’s set in the future, and it absolutely looks futuristic. So, it worked for me. It created a sleek film visually which I felt was effectively able to pull me into this ship which I enjoyed. It can deliver some entertainment if you take what you see at face-value. It has great visuals. Interesting concepts. And adequate performances. But the second-act is a killer for those hoping to see a layered narrative, with characters you can connect with and understand.
Anthony J. Digioia II - SilverScreen Analysis © All Rights Reserved