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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 22, 2021



‘VOYAGERS’ is a futuristic science-fiction movie set in 2053. 

Earth is threatened by disastrous climate change and a new distant planet has been discovered that is similar to Earth. 

To colonize it, the flight to that remote planet will take 86 long years, so a crew of genetically engineered children, from the genomes of intelligent donors, are chosen to be sent there. 

They will grow up during the journey and can also reproduce their own children who will be the first humans to set foot on the new planet. 

A scientist, Richard (Colin Farrell), volunteers to be the leader of the mission on the space ship called Humanitas. He’s making a sacrifice as he knows he will die in the course of the long trip. 

He becomes the father figure of the children, about two dozens of them, of different races. The children grow up in total isolation so that they will not at all miss life on earth. 

Ten years pass and the kids have become teenagers. All of them have special assignments on board the ship that they do routinely, as supervised by Richard.

It is obligatory for the teeners to drink blue-colored water after each meal and a curious young botanist, Christopher (Tye Sheridan), checks its ingredients in the lab.

He finds out that it contains a substance that is meant to suppress their personalities for them to always be obedient and not rebellious at all. 

Christopher and his friend, Zac (Fionn Whitehead), then stop drinking the blue water and they start to experience real emotions and desire. 

Zac becomes sexually attracted to their colleague, Sela (Lilly Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny), and gets jealous when he sees Richard touching her. 

While doing maintenance work outside their space ship, Richard is attacked by an unknown force and he suffers from serious burn wounds. 

He subsequently dies. Zac wants to be the new leader of the ship but in an election among themselves, it’s Christopher who wins. 

Zac resents it and gets jealous when Sela becomes closer to Christopher. He then reveals to all their shipmates that they’re being made to drink a drug that suppresses them and uses this to encourage them to rebel against Christopher. He succeeds in wrestling the leadership from Christopher.

Zac instills fear among the other voyagers, making them believe that an alien has actually killed Richard and has now entered their space vehicle.

The formerly peaceful existence of the teenagers, who used to be so compliant, is now thrown into anarchy and chaos. They have become defiant and are now fighting each other. 

The film’s climax shows how the good guys eventually get to subdue the bad guys in their group. 

But will they still be able to accomplish their original galactic mission and reach their target planet?

The film’s basic set up is obviously inspired by William Golding’s classic novel, “Lord of the Flies”, which was also made into a local movie, “Alkitrang Dugo”, directed by Lupita Concio. 

It’s about a group of children stranded in an island and it becomes a morality tale with the kids becoming a microcosm of mankind’s socio-political history. 

When, left to themselves, the well educated boys descend into a primitive state of savagery and power dynamics, making it an allegory about conflicting human impulses, rational and emotional reactions.

Director Neil Burger (“Divergent”) fails to improve on the original premise of this interesting parable about human behavior. 

To begin with, the characters in “Voyagers” are underwritten and most of the time, they just run up and down long corridors of their spacecraft. Also, all of the characters lack star presence. 

Tye Sheridan started as a child actor in “Tree of Life” with Brad Pitt and also shone well as the teen lead of “Ready Player One”, but he’s not really leading man material and he lacks dynamic screen presence as Christopher.

There’s also really little development among the characters who are mere archetypes. 

As such, we cannot totally relate with them, specially with Zac who we have just to take for what he is, a natural born villain and trouble maker.

To begin with, the actor who plays him, Fionn Whitehead, lacks the corruscating intensity that woould better suit the role. Even Johnny Depp’s daughter is bland and fails in helping lift up the film to any meaningful degree.

We have to admit that the production design, specially the way the claustrophobic interiors of the spacecraft are designed, is very visually pleasing and it’s captured well by the fine cinematography. 

In the end, we think the film’s message is to stress the significance of having a civilized hierarchy and we must all be united as one community to survive existence in a harsh universe, but it's something that we’ve seen many times before in other films.