“VOYAGERS” OFFERS “SEXY ‘LORD OF THE FLIES’ IN SPACE”

“Sexy ‘Lord of the Flies’ in Space” seems like the elevator pitch for “Voyagers,” a slickly crafted sci-fi film written and directed by Neil Burger (2019’s “The Upside”) that’s familiar without being based on any YA source material. It has a tantalizing premise that promises something more carnal and hedonistic like a “zero-gravity ‘Euphoria,’ or the hopeful long shot, ‘Climax.’” Instead, “Voyagers” wants to be smarter than that and succeeds in being smarter than not while also never being dull. While the film doesn’t quite go all the way in exploring its provocative concepts, the attractive (and talented) cast keeps it moving apace, and the limited nuggets of substance—like free will, consent, and the age-old nature vs. nurture debate—still make seeing the story unfold worthwhile.”Palmer 2021 Streaming

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In this space saga, there are no chest-bursting aliens, just pretty young things being controlled from locating their pleasure centers and jumping each other’s bones. In a future where drought and disease have ravaged the population, scientists start their 86-year-long journey in searching the galaxy for a new habitable planet to support human life. Richard (Colin Farrell) has risked leaving behind his life on Earth to raise the first generation of 30 crew members aboard a controlled home of a ship in a one-way trip from which they won’t return. The long-term plan is to have them reproduce, so the third generation—these young astronauts’ grandchildren—can colonize a new sanctuary. It’s now 2063, and these voyagers have grown into young adults who have had no control over what they have been born into and take a daily drink they call “the Blue.” When Christopher (Tye Sheridan) and bunkmate/friend Zac (Fionn Whitehead) begin to question whether the Blue is toxic or actually helping them, they stop taking it. As they start to feel liberated and attracted to chief medical officer Sela (Lily-Rose Depp), the boys realize their sex drives have been numbed all this time to make them docile and obedient. Once all of their fellow shipmates get off the Blue, one of them adopts a mob mentality. Of course, chaos ensues as toxic alpha-male factions are formed and many are convinced they actually have an alien on board.”Sans Aucun Remords 2021 Streaming

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Despite the avenues that Neil Burger dips his toes into but then shudders away from, “Voyagers” is pretty much always involving. The characters are monotone and personality-free blanks, and deliberately so, that it’s shocking when the tension and divide aboard the ship are actually felt. It helps to have Tye Sheridan leading the reckless pack as the stolid but level-headed Christopher, and Lily-Rose Depp (2016’s “Yoga Hosers”), who might as well be AnnaSophia Robb’s twin sister rather than Johnny Depp’s daughter, luckily keeps her wits about her and doesn’t turn Sela into a cowering victim. Chanté Adams stands out as the by-the-book—and hence, bullied—Phoebe, too. But it is Fionn Whitehead (the face of “Dunkirk”), who’s so chilling to watch here as the antagonistic Zac, his swagger getting the best of him and taking on a much crueler side as his side of supporters increases and Christopher’s dwindles. Also, Colin Farrell makes his brief screen-time count, refreshingly playing Richard more as a paternal figure and coming across as tender and trustworthy rather than unscrupulous.”Beckett 2021 Streaming

Rapid-fire montages of explosive geysers, flowers blossoming, and rockets most likely get the point across that these astronauts are ready to let their impulses run wild. It is rather curious that not even one of the astronauts is gay, or at least it’s never brought to our attention (yet Christopher and Zac engage in some homoerotic wrestling in the gym after being off the Blue); that movie would have been interesting. Director Neil Burger sure knows how to appeal to a young-adult market—he did direct the first “Divergent”—and knows how to be easy on the mind and eyes. The production design aboard the spaceship is gleaming and ethereal, and cinematographer Enrique Chediak (who fortuitously also shot “Europa Report” and “The Maze Runner”) captures the extremes of the setting quite effectively, whether it’s an everything-at-their-fingertips paradise or a sterile, tightly enclosed prison. Burger’s pacing is also as brisk as these kids hurtling down the hallways and Chediak’s fast dollies. There will always be the “what-if” of a more daring and thought-provoking movie than what is found on the screen, but “Voyagers” tightens with paranoia and remains watchable with pretty people in space.”The Witcher : Le Cauchemar du loup 2021 Streaming

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