As I spoke last week, we had two options with The Unholy and Voyagers. Obviously, The Unholy was a dud. (Even though my counterpart Abby says 3 stars.) I decided to go with the other choice this week, as we didn’t have any other new releases. (Next week is MORTAL KOMBAT!!!) Would this film beat last week’s rating?
I have always been a Colin Farrell fan and he usually elevates subpar plots. Watch In Bruges if you haven’t already. The other male lead Tye Sheridan has really excelled in the roles he takes as well (Most recently as a young Cyclops in the “new” X-men trilogy.) However, from the trailers, we’ve seen it reminded me of another sci-fi film called Passengers starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt that was VERY forgettable. We will see.
Onto the film.
We open with dialogue on screen to catch the audience up to the World these people live in. It reads, “As the Earth grows hotter, and drought and disease ravage the population. Scientists look for a new planet – one that can support human life. In 2063 they find it.”
We then are taken to a mission briefing of populating a new planet. The flight will take 86 years, so the crew on board will procreate on the shuttle, and their children and grandchildren will populate the new planet.
We then see scientists creating life through a laboratory and the time-lapse sequence is eye-catching to see. Next, we meet our protagonist Richard Alling (Farrell) explaining his worry about the project and the kids being on their own through space.
It is obvious here he will go with them. He helps the children with their lessons, and you can see a fatherly bond established. He tells me all goodnight and sleep well. Colin Farrell doesn’t overact here and with a few lines of dialogue conveys care. Unfortunately, this setup ends too quickly.
We then see a time jump as the cadets have aged. We meet the three leads of the film. Christopher (Sheridan) is the de facto leader of the group. We meet Sela (Depp) who will obviously become a love interest to Christopher. Her role ends up meatier, but the takeoff isn’t great. We then meet Jack (Whitehead) who is friends with them both.
You can tell where this is going. Tension will arise. The cadet’s “job” is to train and stay fit/focused throughout the journey. They all take a blue drink daily and it seems these are just vitamins. They aren’t. While these scenes unfold the score of the film adds tension. You feel unease watching, even before anything suspenseful happens.
Without giving TOO much of the plot they stop taking the blue drink. Things change. This drink curbs human emotions. Think of it as the cadets were on autopilot. As they slowly stop taking the suppressant new feelings, emotions and thoughts flood them. THIS is where the movie takes off.
We leave the typical sci-fi tropes. Go save the human race and delve more into human emotion and intellect. This reminds me of another film by the Burger the director called Limitless. In this film, the lead played by Bradley Cooper takes a pill to enhance his abilities. In this, the crew STOPS taking a “pill” to open up their minds. I enjoyed comparing the situations between the films. (Limitless is better.)
The film looks gorgeous to see. Practical effects mix in with crisp CGI. This feels like a war between friends in a small, confined space. Alling (Farrell) is the anchor of this all and doesn’t allow the story or crew to get completely off track. The other actors shine as well.
The plot is weak and once you get the basics it feels bland at times, but the actors elevate this. You believe they are feeling these emotions for the first time and asking these questions. However, I feel more time could have been spent with them as children. This would have allowed the audience to care more of these characters. As it stands, it’s roughly five minutes and then flash forward to young adults.
If you’re a fan of the sci-fi genre you may be disappointed. The backdrop is in space, but this film centers are the humans on board. If you enjoy character studies (think Lord of the Flies) then give it a watch. It’s MUCH BETTER than The Unholy just not one you’ll watch more than once. Next week MORTAL KOMBAT. 2 ½ stars out of 5
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper