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Voyagers – 2021

Written and Directed by Neil Burger
Starring Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp, Fionn Whitehead, Colin Farrell, Chanté Adams, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Viveik Kalra, Archie Madekwe, Quintessa Swindell

If you ever wanted to see Lord of the Flies in space, then Voyagers is for you. The story starts in 2063, where the Earth is succumbing to the effects of climate change. Some scientists find a new planet, then set a course with a selection of test tube children created from the best minds. With them is Richard (Farrell) who wants to help guide them and set them off early.

Ten years pass when one day Christopher and Zac (Sheridan and Whitehead) discover they are being drugged in order to make them more passive. They both experiment in not taking the drug. Zac becomes an adrenaline junky, while Christopher takes the new sensations just a beat or two slower. Christopher asks Richard why they’d been taking it, among other things. The answer is not forthcoming, especially since very soon thereafter Richard is killed by what appears to be an “alien.”

Soon after the group stops taking the drug in total. That’s when the split begins.

The story is intriguing, to a point. Once they cross the rubicon into the the familiar, it is less interesting. Having the rather bland Sheridan in the lead doesn’t help much. His range prevents the viewer from really believing he’s ever really tempted. Depp actually does a decent job in one of her first major roles. She conveys a subtlety in a story that doesn’t really ask it of her.

The rest of the cast doesn’t need to do much. They pick one side, or the other, then the fighting begins. Burger could have tried a little harder to distance himself from the source material, but the film looks good, for the most part. It would have been nice to explore the space just a little more.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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