Film Review: “Voyagers”

“Voyagers” is a slow chaotic descent into madness with a helter-skelter conduction of plot.

The following review contains spoilers for “Voyagers.”

April 9, 2021 marked the release of yet another science-fiction film that follows a group of people on a ship as they descend into madness — lest we forget Ad Astra, Interstellar, and 2001: A Space Odd. These teenagers, who have been taking a pleasure-suppressing supplement for their whole lives, one day decide to stop taking the supplements and start feeling pleasure by running rampant through the ship, having constant sex, and touching each other incessantly. This is all happening while they slowly descend into chaos and madness. With mediocre writing, unnecessarily lengthy shots, and ridiculous narrative directions, “Voyagers” is a film that should have remained a screenplay. 

What makes “Voyagers” such a poorly written film is its lack of resolution. Richard (Colin Farrell), the spaceship’s chief, is killed by two spiteful children and an ominous black cloud. Audience members see the children fear the cloud, refer to the cloud as aliens, and kill another teenager on the ship thinking the cloud is within them — why they would think the cloud is within another teen is another point not explained in the plot. There is no reveal of what the cloud was or how the kids escaped the cloud, and the movie ends with the cloud never brought up again by the teenagers or the plot. The weak, sporadic writing doesn’t stop there: the spaceship apparently loses connection to Earth at some point, although this is rendered irrelevant because the film ends with the ship returning to Earth. Viewers are left wondering how the ship returned to earth without fixing its connection to earth. Not answering questions like these fills the film with plot holes, and leaves the audience unfulfilled by the lack of resolution.

Now all of this weak writing makes a person wonder: what did the writer (Neil Burger) fill two hours of the film with? The answer is running teens — extremely long shots of the teenagers running. The teenagers run to feel the pleasure they have been missing and, when they have children, their children run. One would think, out of context, that this is the space rendition of “Baywatch.” What the film lacks actual narrative content is made up for in very boring scenes of running placed into the film in order to pad the runtime.

The worst character written would have to be Phoebe. Made into a martyr, Phoebe (Chante Adams) — the only dark-skinned woman in the film — is verbally abused by the other teenagers, just for being the voice of reason. As BIPOC who watched this movie, it’s painful to watch Phoebe suffer and live amongst oppression in this movie. “Will you just let me speak?” “I deserve to be heard too,” she cries, as the other teenagers continue to diminish her worth with disgusting, horrific insults. “Genetic defect,” “blister,” and “pus-filled acne” are among some of the inane insults that are written into the script. At some point, it feels as if the writer felt compelled to invent random slurs for dialogue diversity within his film.

The only quality piece of the film is actor Fionn Whitehead. Making his mark after premiering in 2017 film “Dunkirk” and “Black Mirror”’s “Bandersnatch,” Whitehead has proven his acting capabilities as a villain. From the moment he ceases to take the supplements, the audience is forced to hate him. His character, Zach, acts superior, gropes girls, and even kills the chief. Just the way he says the words in the script makes audience members go crazy with hate. It’s astonishing how well-rounded and well written Zach is while the entire plot falls apart around him.

“Voyagers” was a science fiction film with no depth and no direction. Full of abysmal narrative choices, unnecessary shots of teenagers running, and a martyr for BIPOC, “Voyagers” can be skipped on any watchlist and recommendation page. One might as well re-read 1984 and put their head through a wall. It would elicit the same effect — maybe even a better one.

Film Review: “Voyagers” 
Grade: F
Director: Neil Burger
Starring: Lily-Rose Depp, Tye Sheridan, Fionn Whitehead
Release Date: April 9th, 2021 
Rated: PG-13

Image courtesy of USA Today.

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