To Never Never Land

Voyagers is Lord of the Flies in space. Nothing that immediately because the promising first half hour or so holds potential for something creatively fresh. It’s not to be.

Writing Voyagers off entirely though will miss a greater thematic hook. Even if the execution fails (and it does), Voyagers sends a generation of kids hurtling toward a second Earth to keep the species alive. They know nothing other than what they’re told. No history, just science and the ability to run this planet-escaping rocket.

Voyagers begins conceptually striking and sure of itself


When human nature takes hold – teens becoming inquisitive, lustful, violent – what happens isn’t so much a disagreement on how to run things, but a replay of how historians would depict authoritarian rule. Manipulated by their leader, the kids fall in line because they fear an outside presence. An alien, a force, a killer. Or, so they believe.

With no frame of reference, the resisting numbers fall. The followers turn fervent, seek weapons, and enjoy their perceived freedoms, but at a cost to their own livelihoods. In that, Voyagers finds a clever twist on formula, suggesting it’s instinctual that fear is always the greater motivator. Self-preservation is encoded into our species’ genetics to a point where no intellectualism (the kids were genetically selected from donor sperm) can overcome baseline anxieties.

It feels familiar, the boastful, sure-headed, confident male presenting politically-tinged speeches about invaders and fighting back. Zac (Fionn Whitehead) takes control by implying only he will allow the kids to be themselves, refusing order. It’s utterly false; he knows this. Even when the evidence shows as much, nearly the entire crew stays by his side. Much as the scientists who plotted this mission planned for food, pregnancies, and technical hurdles, they never considered a need for historical context.

In telling this fable though, Voyagers lacks tension. Sluggish and repetitive, the story lacks the ability to stay mobile, confined to a few rooms and a hallway. When the final act brings guns into the fray, Voyagers pings off an endless array of stranded spaceship movies, even Alien considering the Zac’s final action. Voyagers begins conceptually striking and sure of itself, but descends toward tropes and cliches to finish. That’s a waste.

Voyagers 4K UHD Screenshot

Video

Super clean digitally sourced visuals ramp up the clarity. Short of tiny moments that reveal noise, nothing impedes detail. Shot at a high resolution, definition excels at a constant rate. Facial texture in close reveals everything. Sterile ship interiors still show complex images on various screens, no faults detected there either.

Powerful lights factor into the ship’s design, giving scenes a hearty glow. Screen displays light up, usually with piercing, potent lines against darker backgrounds. It’s perfect for HDR, and shots of space excel from the pure blacks and pinpoint star clusters. When in a low power mode, contrast falls intentionally, leaving the imagery on the dull side.

Color grading maintains a near constant blue tint. That restricts things, disallowing any intense primaries, keeping the aesthetic muted. Flesh tones reach a sickly hue. Even yellow spacesuits carry a dour tinge. Deep color maintains the tone and intent.

Audio

The initial rocket launch is a booming low-end shocker. Its depth can easily rattle a room. From there, the score satisfies the range, driving deep into the subwoofer via electronic tones. Those peaks make full use of the LFE. A few dramatic moments hit with equal force.

Typically sedate, mixing favors ambiance, adding small distance inside the cramped halls through echoes, or a disturbing rattle that haunts the teenage crew. Separation finds enough to fit into the rears and surrounds to stay active, if not essential.

Extras

The cast is in focus for the first bonus, an EPK lasting 11-minutes. A follow-up feature looks at the movie’s themes in seven minutes. It takes four minutes to look at the alien presence. A look into visual aesthetics runs just under 10-minutes, and a set tour makes it just past seven minutes.

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Voyagers
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

There’s a strong thematic idea at Voyagers’ core, but it’s let down by rudimentary action and dull pacing.

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