Movie Mayhem – Voyagers

Voyagers — 2021; Directed by Neil Burger; Starring Tye Sheridan, Lily Rose Depp, Fionn Whitehead and Colin Farrell

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the… wait. Sorry. Wrong Voyager. This Voyagers is not about a team of explorers navigating the vastness of space, but instead a group of kids, manufactured and raised to take an 86-year journey to another planet that they know nothing about except for the fact that it has oxygen and water. These types of films always make me question why we, as a human race, are so arrogant as to believe these types of planets are uninhabited and ripe for the taking. Just because we once did the same in America does not make us entitled to expand to wherever we want – as if populating another planet won’t go horribly wrong, even if it is uninhabited by another thinking, feeling race of beings.

Then again, in the film, those on Earth may never even know if what they believe will ever become realty, as not only will the journey take 86 years, but any messages will take years to transmit through space, and that’s if the crew can even call Earth due to issues they encounter mid-flight that take out all communications. I guess what I’m saying is the plan Richard (Colin Farrell) and his team come up with to save the human race isn’t as well-thought out as they may want to believe.

This truth arrives with a vengeance when a couple of the kids, whom have been genetically processed from the best of the best — the smartest and prettiest of us all — and raised from birth in a “ship-like” environment so as to avoid any chance that they’ll miss things like air, sun and plants once the mission is a go, use their high IQs to discover that they are being lied to and manipulated, and take the necessary steps to correct this malfeasance.

Ten years into the journey, all of the good-looking, fit young adults robotically go through the motions on a daily basis — eat your rations, do your job, listen to music, go to sleep. One outlier, Zac (Fionn Whitehead) mixes things up on occassion by tripping up the stairs or blasting his music, but nothing so obvious that it sparks Richard’s curiosity. In fact, Richard is too focused on taking Sela (Lily-Rose Depp), the ship’s chief medical officer, under his wing by using their private mental health sessions to show her all different types of things he brought with him from Earth, to really notice — or care.

When Zac and his friend, Christopher (Tye Sheridan), discover a drug that suppresses emotions and sensations is being administered through a blue liquid the crew is required to take every day, they decide to stop taking it, leading them to finally understand what anger, jealousy and of course, lust and love feel like. As they start to navigate these new emotions, the two get into trouble, especially around Sela, with whom both begin to see as more than just a friend and colleague.

The crew, after others also stop taking “the blue”, soon begin to grow paranoid that there’s an alien hanging out around the ship, causing a series of noises that Richard has explained away as being the ships systems contracting and expanding as different systems are turned on and off. However, Zac and his followers don’t believe him, not after all of his (and the mission’s) other lies begin to come too light, including a secret room. This paranoia leads to a fracturing of the kids and turns them into exactly what Richard feared they might become.

By how I’ve described the film thus far, it doesn’t seem like I enjoyed the film, but even though the plot is very simple, and some of the ideas don’t seem they’ve been thought out very well, the film itself is a very interesting look at how the human experience can be infected by an abundance of lies, emotion, and manipulation. The latter is what takes center stage, as it becomes evident that several characters attempt to manipulate others, even if they don’t understand that’s what they’re doing.

Sheridan and Depp are very compelling as the pair that fully understand what’s happening and fight to keep everything under control when things become insane. They provide just the right amount of guidance, fear, loyalty and intelligence to contradict the other side of the equation. Speaking of which, Whitehead provides the right amount of emotional turmoil to keep you invested in how he’s able to draw others to his side in a way that all of the kids would follow him.

It’s also a good study of how suppressing certain parts of human nature can lead to unexpected circumstances. By attempting to suppress the cravings of these kids in order to control food rations and the population of the ship, it’s inevitable that an outburst of aggression would occur once that suppression is no longer feasible. Because these kids were never able to experience these emotions or concepts before, when they finally encounter them, it becomes a flood of consequences that could have been avoided had they been taught how to control them.

I may be looking a little too deep into a space opera that doesn’t truly dive as far as it could into the bigger picture (the end sends us into a bit of a rosy future that I’m not sure I buy), but I had fun watching this specific group of young adults learn how to “become human” and where that might lead into the future once they arrive at their destination, even if that home might not be very kind to them. We may never truly know, but as far as these Voyagers go, they kept my interest with some good ideas and a charismatic cast.

My Grade: A-

Bonus Reviews:

It may start out nicely, but because Ben Falcone allows Melissa McCarthy to improve a little too much, Thunder Force quickly devolves into a mess of scenes that go on for way too long, a series of annoying character sequences, and unintentionally noticeable wire-work. Listen to my (Spoiler) review of Thunder Force on Ramblin’ Reviews. B

Concrete Cowboy is a very quiet love letter to the cowboys that roam the streets of Philadelphia, providing some of the real Fletcher Street Stable Ranchers to be part of the cast, showcasing what these stables mean to this group of cowboys and how much the group care for these glorious animals, all through the lens of a young boy (Caleb McLaughlin) attempting to reconnect with his estranged father (Idris Elba). A

Kevin Sorbo plays the usual skeptic who has an enlightened moment of faith as in most of his faith-based films, and though the script and the characterizations in The Girl Who Believes In Miracles can be a bit hokey at times, in the end the film does what it sets out to do with a strong message of hope and faith that we all seem to need right now. B+

Next week, new movies include Voyagers and Thunder Force (Netflix). If you would like to see a review for one of these, or any other film out next week, please respond in the comments below.

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