A Voyage Gone Wrong

A Voyage Gone Wrong

Nora Lyons, Writer

Neil Burger’s Voyagers is a science fiction thriller that will have the audience laughing the whole way through. The only problem is that it is not supposed to be a funny movie. 

It starts off explaining that in the future, when the Earth can no longer be lived on, there needs to be another population started on a previously discovered planet. The issue, though, is that it takes 86 years to get there, and no one is going to offer to reproduce and live the rest of their lives on a spaceship. 

The solution? Breed a whole new group of kids who are never going to have a taste of what life is like outside the spaceship that is being taken to this new planet. All you have to do is wait until they are old enough to manage it themselves and they are good to go. Richard, played by Colin Farrell, speeds up this process by saying goodbye to his old life and going with them.

Things start to turn weird when they are finally teenagers on the trip to the new planet. Richard mysteriously dies, which leads to the whole crew to stop taking this blue juice that controls their hormonal urges, because now they cannot be forced to live under any rules.

In trying to show the impact of the crew giving into those sexual desires they now have, it just turns out sort of awkward. There is uncomfortable grinding scenes and an excess of scenes with both sexual and physical assault, which gives a message to teenagers that in their natural state that type of behavior is normal for them. 

That almost insulting message, though, is overshadowed by the speed at which things escalate in this movie. All of a sudden, the antagonist, Zac, played by Fionn Whitehead, just convinces the majority of the crew that aliens killed Richard. But these are some of the smartest kids out there, right? They would at least question it a little? Nope. They just accept it and start to brutally injure and even kill a couple of crewmates because they believe the “alien lives inside of them.”

Good writing has saved bad acting in the past, and good acting has saved bad writing, but in Voyagers, both the screenplay and acting come across as stale. Lily-Rose Depp, who played Sela, used about two facial expressions the entirety of the movie.

When it comes to the writing, convincing people an alien might live inside anyone someone would have been believable for something like Lord of the Flies, where they are twelve year old kids, but watching 18 year olds freak out about it is just laughable.

This Lord of the Flies connection makes sense, though, as Neil Burger told Variety about this connection, “Once I wrote the script, I wondered if what I was doing was what that story had done. Rather than trying to run away from it, I decided to lean into it.”

When making a movie that’s concept has been done many times before, it is imperative to not only get it right, but add originality to it, and that is where Voyagers misses the mark.

What sets this movie apart for the good, though, is that unlike other space movies, the characters here are not trying to get out but rather stay in and accept the fact that they are going to spend their whole lives on that ship. It is an interesting idea, and one that to many people who are worried about climate change may not see as too bizarre.  If made with more patience, care, and acting classes, this movie may have taken a better route.