The most surprising thing about Travelers, a sci-fi thriller about a group of young adults who have been tasked with traveling and repopulating a new planet, is that it is not based on a series of young adult books. Writer and director Neil Burger, who was also behind the Divergent films, has apparently decided to take out the IP middleman and make his own YA statement. That said, it borrows heavily from many other sources, with undertones from Lord of the Flies, The Giver, Enders Game, Euphoria, and plenty of space madness movies.
With a cast including Lily-Rose Depp, Tye Sheridan, Fionn Whitehead, Chante Adams, Archie Madekwe and Quintessa Swindell, a nice production design and a quick plot, this is a very watchable movie. Sadly, he also suffers from the same issues that some of his IP brethren have – he’s terribly serious, fails to make audiences care much for anyone involved, and feels like the first book in a series when everything. is said and done.
In the near future, Voyagers files vague information about the deteriorating state of Earth and a plan to send a group of people to another planet to start life anew. As the journey lasts 86 years, they will be the grandchildren of the first explorers. So, they genetically create a racially diverse and suspect group of geniuses for this first generation and throw them into space as young children with only Colin Farrells Richard to raise, watch, and counsel them. What could possibly go wrong with this terribly hasty plan?
Well, it sure doesn’t help that within a few years of starting the trip Whiteheads Zac and Sheridans Christopher find out they’re all drugged to suppress their hormones and keep everyone semi-robotic focused on the mission. instead of shaking their teammates. When they decide to stop taking the blue drink it was hidden in, Zac immediately transforms into a savage sexual predator with an obsessive focus on Depps Sela. Soon everyone stops taking the blue and after Richard is injured in an accident and there is no more supervision, the ship turns into a chaotic jumble of raging hormones, power struggles and power struggles. paranoia and the Lord of the Flies parallels are really starting to take over. There’s even a Piggy-like character and a moment when an edgy faction of the crew starts chanting Kill! Oh, the crew is also starting to wonder if there’s an alien on board, like there’s not enough to chew on already.
Voyagers has big ambitions and big cliché questions about the goal, but one of the main issues is that he doesn’t do a great job establishing his own characters. This is probably due in part to the blue which makes everyone docile and emotionless, but even after you stop taking it, the few characters who have personalities are painted with strokes so broad that there is nothing to hold back. Only Zac gets a real transformation, but there is no nuance for him either. He’s a villain and a potential rapist with no noticeable charisma, and it’s totally unclear why any part of the crew would choose to follow him instead of the lucid Christopher. Plus, while the team is quite racially diverse, 95% of the film is still laser focused on four white threads.
It’s the kind of premise you can imagine would have been better served by a limited series with time to know and love at least some of the characters so that there are stakes. We should be bowled over by Zac’s villainous devolution and torn apart by who could be the best leader. We should know more than three of the character names and care when people start to die. Voyagers is quite simply a semi-effective thriller with about as much emotional intelligence as its lab-produced, hormone-controlled, sequestered youngsters.
Voyagers, a Lionsgate release in theaters Friday, was rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for violence, some strong sexuality, gory imagery, sexual assault, and brief strong language. Duration: 108 minutes. Two out of four stars.