REVIEW: ‘Voyagers’ Brings Sci-Fi to Lord of the Flies

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When it comes to Young Adult stories, especially those about teens being left to their own devices with no supervision, all take direction from Lord of the Flies. It’s present in just about every YA television show about the end of the world, and in Lionsgate’s Voyagers, it present in outer space too. A story about how teens react when they’re finally free from adult and medical control, the film offers up a story that, while rooted in science fiction, leans hard into a psychological thriller. Written and directed by Neil Burger, the film stars Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp, Fionn Whitehead, Chanté Adams, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Viveik Kalra, Archie Madekwe, Quintessa Swindell, Madison Hu, and Colin Farrell.

In Voyagers, the human race has been nearly decimated on Earth, and there is only one hope; colonizing a distant planet. But, instead of relying on the common sci-fi use of stasis pods, this film takes a different route to the stars: a future generation. In order to have a successful mission, scientists send a ship into space with its crew’s children, and then their children are set to be the future of the colonizing mission. The group of young men and women is bred for intelligence and obedience, but they uncover disturbing secrets about the mission. After an accident, the teens begin to defy their training and begin to explore their most primitive natures. As life on the ship descends into chaos, they’re consumed by fear, lust, and the insatiable hunger for power.

With Richard, the adult in charge of them gone, a power vacuum forms with Zac focused on taking it and Christopher focused on maintaining a semblance of order. In their struggle for control, the threat of an alien that can enter people’s bodies causes the teens both to descend into chaos and become compliant sheep to Zac’s building megalomania. The characters around the two, while interesting, serve as little more than fodder for Zac’s game. That said, it isn’t a bad thing.

The crux of Voyagers is how people react to fear, how it controls them, and how even children raised without violence can quickly turn to it. With many notes hitting elements from Lord of the Flies, boar hunt, and all, this film isn’t necessarily original. That said, it is well done — specifically when it comes to the young cast’s acting ability. As Zac, Whitehead is menacing and charismatic, a combination that makes him perfect for the cult leader role he begins to play. As the teens discover death, murder, and the darker sides of their nature, Zac exploits it all.

On the other side, Sheridan and Depp give performances that hold their own, but when on screen with Whitehead, they lose ground. While they’re good characters and have a strong on-screen presence, Whitehead’s charisma and anger consume everyone else in the scenes once he gets going.

As much as the sci-fi setting gives the plot a foundation, the film isn’t about the bells and whistles of the ship or even the threat of aliens lurking. It’s the human factor, and while the film is predictable in how it unravels, it is thrilling to watch. The virus that caused the need to colonize means nothing, the plan for the future is rarely touched, and even being in the void of space only comes into play a handful of times. The kicker here is that because the teens are in space, there is no return to civilization. There is no normalcy, and they have to create their own path forward.

All that said, Voyagers is about as gripping a thriller you can get in the YA demographic. And to be honest, it’s well worth the watch just for Whitehead’s performance.

Voyagers releases in theaters on April 9, 2021.

  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10


All that said, Voyagers is about as gripping a thriller you can get in the YA demographic. And to be honest, it’s well worth the watch just for Whitehead’s performance.

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