While lacking depth in the chaos, VOYAGERS is filmed impeccably
Neil Burger’s latest film Voyagers is a stress-filled trek through the depths of space in search of a new home. Fueled by a solid premise, the events that take place on board of the vessel purposely frustrate from beginning to end.
Stylishly crafted, the space vessel glows with its crisp, neat interior amidst the complete darkness that consumes the outside. Burger’s direction is appropriately chaotic as we encounter the ruthless nature of the voyagers on board as they start to realize their capabilities. Early on in the film as the crew decides to stop drinking their meds, Burger utilizes sloppy montages of lively plants, animals, and sexual imagery to reference the crew members' mental states. The film starts at a crawl and accelerates to a full blown sprint by the film’s close, building an excessive amount of tension as we watch the circumstances play out.
Written by Burger, he seems to have a vision for what he wants the overall film to be about and competently delivers on the simple story being told - albeit crammed with twists and turns. After a devastating loss causes the crew to fend for themselves after refusing to take their regular medications (known as “The Blue”), rivalries form and the ship becomes cutthroat shockingly fast. The story is barebones, with the crew’s only mission being to make it to the new world so the 3rd generation of voyagers can survive, but once the realization hits that they themselves won’t see the planet, ideas among the crew drastically shift. The plot suffices for the isolated setting, however it certainly could have been better fleshed out to deliver a more complete and powerful story. Instead, we are given more melodrama than needed.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Tye Sheridan and Fionn Whitehead lead the film with Lily-Rose Depp, Colin Farrell, and Archie Madekwe in strong supporting roles. The film attempts to deliver characters with self control due to a medication they consume, but once they resist the drug, the cast quickly grows wild. As this happens, the characters become infuriating to watch in action - Farrell being the only likable member of the aforementioned crew. While the frustrating actions of the characters might leave you with your pulse racing, the rage you feel is purposefully generated by the way Burger is writing his story. That being said, Tye Sheridan, Fionn Whitehead, and Colin Farrell steal the show, with the majority of the supporting roles falling short in characterization and intended to just become followers.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Confined to close quarters, the film relies on its claustrophobic setting to provide even more stress to the audience. The ship is slick and glowing with ivory, only showing glimpses of the darkness that awaits outside. It’s easy to understand how being trapped in a place like this would cause the inhabitants to lose sanity - with former knowledge of Earth or not. Beyond one explosive scene near the conclusion, the film remains isolated, using practical sets throughout. The glimpses of the outside are consumed in darkness, but the instances of the planet in the distance are beautifully rendered.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Composer Trevor Gureckis delivers an electrifying score that amps up the intensity as things start to get out of hand. While the score certainly amplifies things when the action kicks into full gear, Gureckis handles the slower moments haphazardly with repetitive notes.
What begins as a potentially fascinating character study confined in the depths of space quickly turns into a mentally exhausting thriller. While lacking depth in the chaos, Voyagers is filmed impeccably. The intense levels of paranoia that ultimately lead to mayhem are on full display.