I like to check iTunes Movie Of The Week section every once in awhile because you never know what’s going to turn up and for 99 cents you can’t beat the price (Besides, it’s where I discovered Chad Faust’s Girl (2020) which I really enjoyed).
The movie on offer was Neil Burger’s (Limitless, Divergent, etc) Voyagers. I felt pretty good about it because if one were to judge by the poster it’s science fiction, a genre I tend to enjoy.
Besides that it stars Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, and Fionn Whitehead, all actors who can give great performances when given the space to do so. It also stars Lily-Rose Depp, who looks so much like Natalie Portman that that’s who thought it was, despite knowing that it wasn’t.
Plus Bruce Willis wasn’t scowling down at me, so I was feeling pretty optimistic.
And on one level I enjoyed it. The production design by Scott Chambliss was effective and managed to evoke a futuristic setting without overdoing it. The cinematography by Enrique Chediak was beautiful, and what I found noteworthy about it is that I don’t recall a (deliberately) blurry or out-of-focus shot in the entire movie (except for some time-lapse sequences toward the end).
The makeup department is also pretty noteworthy because despite the closeups oftentimes preferred by Burger, I didn’t notice anyone wearing any, which is a lot more difficult to do than most people realize.
With Voyagers Neil Burger assembled an extremely capable group of people, and seemingly let them do what they needed to because it’s a gorgeous movie.
Though it’s the writing – or perhaps the lack thereof – that never achieves liftoff.
For a start, it’s not science fiction. Sure, it takes place in a indeterminate future that seems not too far off from our own and tells the story of people who were bred from birth to crew a spaceship designed to give humanity another chance on a new world.
And that definitely sounds like science fiction till you realize that Burger – who also wrote it – doesn’t particularly care about any of that stuff and uses it primarily as a framework for the human drama.
And that would be fine if he weren’t virtually plagiarizing William Golding’s Lord of the Flies to do it.
And I’m not being hyperbolic. Take away all the futuristic touches and you have Golding’s story (even down to the unseen monster/alien that threatens the young people).
I haven’t been following this movie’s development but I’d be genuinely surprised there hadn’t been legal action from Golding’s estate at some point because it’s that blatant.
And maybe there was a credit given at the end of the movie though I was too put-off to wade through them to find out.