Films like "Voyagers" feel like the sort of stories that come from an entirely different time. Particularly in the 2008-2016 surge of Young Adult adaptations. Lionsgate's latest steers away from the familiar "blossoming romance of young teens" and focuses on the discovery of hormones in space. Years in the future, the earth is slowly becoming uninhabitable, leading a group of scientists on a mission. This mission includes raising the next generation (Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp, Fionn Whitehead) on a spaceship led by their guardian Richard (Colin Farrell). What follows is a pursuit of these kids discovering their actual purpose, which leads them down a road of madness.
If that sounds like "Lord of the Flies" in space, then you aren't far from the mark. What starts as a desolate and icy journey into planning the future turns into pure pandemonium. Clocking in at only 108 minutes long, "Voyagers" focuses quite a bit on world-building. As we begin to learn exactly what's happening on this intergalactic journey, it's a lot of exposition. So much exposition that it's really hard to stay interested or even care about what happens to these characters. The icy exteriors of this ship are nice to look at, but they don't amount to much in terms of the narrative. Around the 35-40 minute mark, the film takes a certain choice narratively. That choice propels the film into a chaotic nature that makes us as an audience feel claustrophobic.
This forces the kids to divulge into "Lord of the Flies" like madness, making for an entertaining experience. Everything the kids do is an impulse that we as an audience clearly understand isn't the right decision. It makes for a lot of entertainment value since you never really know what could happen next. However, the real excitement in this section of the film is how the kids are forced to find their own identity with no authoritarians. In this section, Director Neil Burger makes us constantly feel on edge, which works for the more ludicrous moments. This is also thanks to actors like Whitehead, Depp and Sheridan, who are entirely believable.
That constant propulsion certainly makes us think and feel as an audience. There's a sensation when we reach the final that we need an epic spectacle-filled conclusion. The problem with that is the first two-thirds have kept things entirely small and humane. Jumping to a massive outer space-filled conclusion feels like nothing more than studio interference. It's the sort of decision that doesn't add anything to the story or propel it forward in an exciting way. Something like this even lessens the emotional impact early events in the film wanted us to have. The weight of the circumstance feels like someone pulling out the rug from beneath us. This keeps a decent film from becoming a really good one.
"Voyagers" is incredibly ambitious in the sorts of themes and ideas they want audiences to learn from. You've got a cast that's willing to push limits, which is admirable, but they've never been given a proper chance to do so. This is why it's hard not to wonder if the film's PG-13 (aka filtered) rating never pushes the narrative hard enough. I'm certainly not looking for a hard R excessive rating, but it just seems that they only skim the surface of what could've been fascinating. That's not to say I was ever bored, but it just feels like the film never reaches its full potential. That being said, as a distraction to watch at home that can make you think, you'll be able to get a lot out of it.
Watch Trailer Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwJkexUBSeg