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Cinematic Releases: Voyagers (2021) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 1167 days ago on Entertainment -  Writer-director Neil Burger started out strong with his magician romance The Illusionist before moving onto young adult science fiction thriller fare with the first Divergent film.  His latest cinematic venture Voyagers, a kind of Lord of the Flies meets Passengersthriller, finds the director returning to young adult sci-fi as well as writing, directing and even producing the project.  Starring Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp and Fionn Whitehead, the film stars a largely young adult cast and concerns an Interstellar-like premise involving young astronauts searching for life off of a dying Earth.  To keep the next generation of artificially inseminated youths under control until they reach their intergalactic destination, they’re administered drugs to keep them docile ala THX 1138 until two of the kids decide to stop taking them. Another film shot in 2019 but delayed until now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Voyagers with its poster of Tye Sheridan and Lily-Rose Depp in bed together promises something akin to the raciness of Claire Denis’ erotic sci-fi freak-out High Life but ultimately only ends up going as far as a PG-13 will allow.  As such, this is pretty predictable genre thriller fare with Tye Sheridan more or less reprising his role from Ready Player One and Fionn Whitehead from Dunkirk as the villain who stokes fear and anarchy amongst the denizens of the spaceship.  While there’s an ocean of possibilities that could be done with this setup, it contracts into another standardized good vs. evil showdown in deep space. Visually the film looks handsome enough and deals with the science-fiction arena well thanks to Europa Report cinematographer Enrique Chediak and the score by The Goldfinch composer Trevor Gureckis manages to ramp up the tension as things get dicey with time.  Performances from the young adult cast are mostly fine though the only one allowed to flex his acting skills is Fionn Whitehead.  Everyone else including Colin Farrell mostly phones it in which is serviceable but not exactly remarkable either.  Mostly it rests on the shoulders of Tye Sheridan who, yes, has ample screen presence but again is reprising a role he played before.  Whereas The Illusionist showed a great deal of promise for the writer-director, Voyagers starts out well enough but becomes another generic chase thriller that’s low on the sleaze factor flaunted by the poster and high on adrenaline from running down endless hallways.  For the most part the film is an entertaining young adult action thriller but then it just kind of ends and we’re left empty handed.  While this doesn’t quite scrape the depths of, say, The Space Between Us, it is nowhere near the heights reached by so many other space travel epics before it.  I’m fully confident one day Neil Burger will make another film on par with The Illusionist but for now this one unfortunately proves to be something of a step backwards for the writer-director.--Andrew Kotwicki (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

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