Neil Burger has made interesting films, like The Illusionist with Ed Norton and Paul Giamatti, and Limitless with Bradley Cooper. In Voyagers, which he also wrote, Burger takes us on an interstellar exploration of what humans could do to populate a new planet, generations after departing Earth. The end result is messy, but still intriguing.
The scientist Richard (Colin Farrell) decides at the last moment to join the test tube babies into space. He’ll be the sole adult, their teacher, confidant, and minder. Ten years later, the babies are now teenagers, and a couple of them figure out that Richard has been maintaining a level, non-reactive field by feeding them a drug that inhibits their desires. As teenagers, they begin to refuse the drug of course, and unbeknownst to Richard, several of them begin to have sexual desires, anger, and more develop. This can’t end well for Richard, right?
As the space flight goes Lord of the Flies, several teenagers, Chris (Tye Sheridan, Mud, Ready Player One) and Zac (Fionn Whitehead, Dunkirk) become the two ‘types’ of humans that the others either ally themselves with or run away from. In between the two teens is Sela (Lily-Rose Depp), a smart individual on her own right, who Richard poured special attention into, and now becomes the object of obsession. Throw in a hidden chamber onboard the ship that is believed to have alien life somehow contained, and the loss of Richard plus the inclinations of the teens sans drug, result in a serious struggle between the human and the inhumane.
I couldn’t help think of the Garden of Eden (or The Matrix) as the teens stop taking the drug. They suddenly have their eyes opened, and they realize that the others are attractive or scary or … whatever. They don’t know what to do with their emotions because they’ve been hidden from them, and therefore struggle to adapt to this new normal. But while humans were sent to repopulate a new planet to give humanity a fresh start, the reality is that the best and worst of humanity was already onboard – it’s nature/nurture mashed up together.
It’s an intriguing premise, even if it gets a bit lost in space.
Special features here include a look at the cast in “Born for This” and “Survival of the Fittest,” a look at the physical training required. An additional featurette, “On the Surface,” takes a look at Voyagers very cool visual appearance. This one is certainly sleek and futuristic for the sci-fi fans it hopes to attract.