By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)
Much like William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies, this science fiction thriller depicts what could happen when teenagers/young adults are left to their immature devices when placed in positions of responsibility. The problem with this film, however, is that is comes across as a not-so-great knock of Golding’s story, offering a highly predictable story told without finesse and skillful filmmaking. To its credit, the film does feature some solid performances by its cast, but ends up becoming an utterly frustrating and tiresome experience, as it fails to expound upon what Golding had already done so well in his novel.
Tye Sheridan stars as Christopher Rebbs, a young born and bred among others for an important space mission to travel to discover and begin habitation of a new home. The setting is the future, and Earth is on the verge of becoming uninhabitable. The powers-that-be on the planet have decided to send a crew of genetically engineered humans on a mult-generational mission to reach a planet very far away, so that humanity can continue to thrive and survive. Lead by adult leader Richard Alling (Collin Farrell) the crew grows up on the ship, but have been kept in control of their pubescent impulses and desires by an unknown chemical in a beverage they ingest regularly.
When Christopher and his ship mate Zac (Fionn Whitehead) discover the chemical, they both decide to stop taking it. As the rest of the crew becomes aware of this source of “control” they all decide to stop drinking it leading to increased aggressive behavior and sexual desire. Things get even more complicated after Richard gets tragically killed in a bizarre incident when attempting to repair some damage outside of the ship. As Zac grows even more aggressive and violent, Christopher and ship mate Sela (Lily-Rose Depp) attempt to stand as the voices of reason in a spacecraft that is quickly becoming more divided as the behavior devolves into chaos.
Even though the concept and premise is rather ingenious, the film disappointingly never capitalizes on its intelligent foundation. Writer/director Neil Burger never delivers a movie that could have been a rather inventive take on William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Instead, the whole experience comes across as predictable, way too obvious, and all too trite. The parallels to modern events and politics are there, but because Burger’s approach is too on-the-nose and often heavy-handed, the whole experience is rather weak and silly.
As I stated above, I feel that the cast performs well. They were obviously trying their best, despite the weak material with which they were working. Tye Sheridan gives a solid, charismatic effort as Christopher. Fionn Whitehead gives a wickedly fiery turn as Zac, the id to Christopher’s ego. Lily-Rose Depp also performs well enough as Sela, but her performance definitely feels slighted and stunted by the limited character development.
Voyagers is simply one of those movies that had the opportunity to do something exciting and compelling, but ultimately fails to deliver what it promises. The film is now playing in theaters, but I feel it just isn’t worth the effort or risk to go see it.