“Voyagers” (2021) is an entertaining the merger between “Lord of the Flies” and Passengers (2016).
(MILD SPOILERS BELOW)
Imagine a world where we’ve so thoroughly fucked up the planet that we decide to send an ark of humans to the closest known habitable world. With then-modern technology it’s a journey that takes the better part of 100 years. While we have overcome the problem of high sub-light speed propulsion we haven’t invented hibernation yet. So the only way the settlers will get there is if we send off a present day crew, their children, and then their grand children survive to ultimately populate the planet. Believing that it’d be “the easiest way” they breed a crew of a few dozen children who are raised entirely in simulated space station conditions on earth so that when they ultimately have to make the journey they don’t miss things like sunshine and air. As you can guess everything goes well only for so long and then the whole thing starts falling apart. I mean if everything went well there would be no movie, right?
It is far more psychological thriller than sci-fi movie. This could have just as easily taken place on a ship wrecked island or some other situation that induces isolation, survival, and extreme power dynamics issues. We have the usual alpha/beta male situation, jealously, rage, the whole thing. Before the shit hits the fan it was interesting to see how the crew was handling the reality of their situation. They were gateways to the next generation and therefore felt their lives had no worth or consequence so what was the point of it all. It’s a typical human condition mental mindfuck but playing out inside of a spaceship that you lived and died your life in without any knowledge if your progeny would even get to the “better destination” much less you ever seeing it. Because it takes place in such a confined space and timeline option versus on Spaceship Earth (yes I’m going to steal that from Disney’s Epcot) it makes it far more salient though. There isn’t much time for that until the shit hits the fan.
We all know how “Lord of the Flies” stories go. I don’t know why we always go back to that one example and/or “Animal Farm” whenever we bring these up. Yes they are very concise metaphors for how so much of history plays out. There were certain places where the main villain feels like they might be called out but he makes up an even more fantastical story which somehow everyone goes along with. If I had watched this ten years ago I would have found it unbelievable. Having lived through watching usually rational level headed people around me fall for the most insane anti-reality stories in the hand of charismatic malevolent leader I can say it is now totally believable, sadly. At least the end of this one has a known mostly happy ending.
I went into this with no expectations. I was pretty excited to see some familiar faces in it like Tye Sheridan from Ready, Player, One (2018), Isaac Hempstead Wright from Game of Thrones (2011-2019), and Colin Farrell whom I last saw in Saving Mr. Banks (2013). That plus some stunning special effects were enough to let me settle in to at least enjoy it. I came away liking it a lot though. Yes there were some pretty well worn themes and tropes but there was some novelty to the way it was presented and handled. Handling the whole dealing with ones own mortality and sense of insignificance was a nice touch too.
Rating it on a scale of 1-10 I’d give it 7. I’d certainly watch it again if it were on or a bunch of friends wanted to go out for the evening but I don’t like it so much I have to go back to see it again.