Voyagers 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray Combo Pack
- Video (4K UHD)8
- Video (1080p Blu-ray)7
- Special Features6
Lionsgate's 4K UHD release of Voyagers remains true to the source, providing a 4K video transfer that's monotone in form and rarely strays away from its mostly-white set pieces. The Blu-ray holds its own rather well, but the 4K has the ability to use HDR, which highlights some fine-tuned detail and allows what little color is in the film, to pop. Both discs include a healthy, but refrained 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track and a small assortment of interesting, but brief special features.
Neil Burger‘s latest sci-fi flick Voyagers attempts to document the potential paranoia and chaos that comes with the territory of charting a multi-generational mission in space in hopes of finding a new planet. Unfortunately for Burger, the film dropped to little fanfare, being released theatrically earlier this year and now reaching 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray and digital, just a few months later.
Voyagers follows a group of young adults as they are born and bred for the sole purpose of starting a 80+ year trek across the cosmos to discover a new livable planet. These kids won’t be seeing this planet, but instead their grandkids, which makes the journey somewhat troublesome as their fate is simply to exist and to pass on.
These teens are led by an adult named Richard (Colin Farrell). Richard helped raise them before takeoff and volunteered to take the one-way trip in an effort to protect them from what they face and to help keep them grounded while living inside of a spaceship for so many years.
To combat the volatile moods of young adolescents, it is revealed early on that all crew members (outside of Richard) must take something called “the blue”, which is a beverage meant to keep them calm, domicile and without urges for pleasure or emotion.
As one could imagine, things go wrong once the kids discover this and soon they start skipping doses and reacting to everything with a fresh set of hormonal eyes.
Christopher (Tye Sheridan) represents the path of law, order and reason, urging everyone to simply follow orders and complete their tasks to keep the mission on-track, whereas Zac (Fionn Whitehead) suggests speaking out and acting up in the form of rebelling against those that have lied to them or withheld aspects of the truth.
Quickly, lines are drawn in the sand and things heat up as everyone aboard the ship soon realizes that freewill and choice comes at a price and without supervision and rules, chaos quickly takes over.
Neil Burger‘s Voyagers is very much Lord of the Flies in space and I’m not going to beat that drum any longer. I agree with the comparisons and do feel that Burger could’ve explored his themes a bit more or perhaps tried to give us something completely different, but more often than not, Voyagers feels like something we’ve seen before.
The performances are really the main attraction here, even if they are somewhat subdued and lacking a real punch. Burger never gets his talent to fully commit in the sense of shit hitting the fan and people absolutely reacting in the wildest of ways. Sure, Fionn Whitehead‘s Zac is a bit unlikable and makes some illogical decisions, but his character’s (and many others’) arc is somewhat rushed, going from Christopher’s best bud and right-hand man to his worst enemy in the matter of minutes.
There is a “big moment” that starts to separate them into factions, but it almost all happens too soon and without much conversation to represent just why people are suddenly becoming paranoid and scared within minutes.
It feels like lazy writing that simply wants to get us from calm and collected to madness and rage in minutes, without putting in the time and effort to explore each character and their fragile mental state.
This makes for a very half-baked film that feels underwhelming around almost every corner. Colin Farrell‘s presence is a warm welcome, despite his character not getting enough time to allow the actor to make something of it. Tye Sheridan and Lily-Rose Depp co-star as the biggest of the younger leads and even they struggle to keep things interesting.
I will say that the set design is extraordinary and the use of practical effects really does help make the film look and feel like a big budget production.
Voyagers is definitely not Neil Burger‘s best film by any stretch, but it’s an interesting dive into the human psyche and Burger’s exploration on just what would happen over such a long stretch of time is fascinating, but unfortunately underwhelming and mis-directed. The posters and promos for this film lean hard into the sexual desires of the characters and the film definitely touches up on this (in a very weird way), but there’s really not a lot of that going on in the film. In fact, there’s just not much going on in general, outside of a few squabbles in the corridors and some chest-puffing to establish dominance.
If Voyagers is a representation of our youth and the hopes and aspirations that they may accomplish, then you better sit down and accept that we are all doomed.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Package:
Picture (2160p, HDR): Voyagers comes to home video courtesy of Lionsgate in the form of a 4K UHD Blu-ray combo pack that includes a 1080p Blu-ray as well. The 4K presentation includes HDR (sadly no Dolby Vision this time around) and I must say, this is another sharp and pleasing transfer from Lionsgate. I wasn’t able to find concrete data pointing to this being finished at 4K, but the transfer makes me believe that it was. The film primarily takes place within the confines of a spaceship that’s mostly-white, with occasional blacks and reds, which means that there’s not a lot of variety on display, but what we do get is a very crisp image that isn’t afraid to highlight close-up detail. Black levels are consistent and rich, while the minimal color that is presented is welcoming and lively. The brief moments of red whenever an alarm or warning is set are bright and will blind you if you’re not prepared for it.
Most of the film takes place on practical sets and CGI seems to be visible only in brief moments. The more obvious spots during the rocket launch are somewhat distracting, but the rest of the film settles in and looks completely rendered.
Comparing the 4K UHD disc to the Blu-ray disc isn’t as drastic as I thought it would be. The 4K transfer mostly benefits from the HDR layer, allowing for more vivid colors and for some of the finer detail to grow and expand a bit more. Watching the Blu-ray on a proper 4K TV with some upscaling powers will surely impress those not willing to dive into the 4K UHD arena, but I would still champion for the UHD disc as it gives you the closest to “unfiltered” that is possible at this point in time.
Audio (5.1 Dolby TrueHD): In a somewhat puzzling discovery, Lionsgate decided to supply both the 4K UHD and the Blu-ray with 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio tracks. Generally, the 4K upgrade comes with Dolby ATMOS or in some cases, both discs will provide the enhanced lossless audio format, but such is not true with this releasing of Voyagers.
The film is primarily a dialogue-driven affair, which makes great use of the center channel. Words are spoken clearly and given space to translate across the channel. The rest of the channels remain active, but are somewhat reserved for major action sequences, which there are a few. I found myself turning this one up a few notches past my normal settings to better hear the back channels as most of the action takes place up front. I wouldn’t call this a bad track as much as I would call it an appropriately reserved one, that somewhat matches the video presentation.
The following special features have been included with this combo pack on both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs:
- Born for This: The Cast of Voyagers (HD): A brief 11-minute clip featuring interviews with the cast and crew discussing the film’s themes and general plot.
- Against Type: Unlearning Human Nature (HD): This clip focuses on the cast’s task to “unlearn” how to act in terms of basic human behavior. I found this one somewhat interesting as many of the actors essentially stated that they had to learn how to not act in the traditional sense of having past experience and human interactions.
- Survival of the Fittest: The Physicality of Voyagers (HD): This 4-minute clip discussing the physical requirements of the shoot is mostly fluff as the film features a couple shots of running down long hallways (which we are reminded of several times throughout these clips) and a brief fight scene. I would assume this was one of the less-demanding shoots for actors, but this clip may suggest otherwise.
- On the Surface: The Visual Style of Voyagers (HD): Behind-the-scenes look at the visual style of the film, featuring DP Enrique Chediak. This one felt short as the film has a unique style that was captured, yet Chediak and crew were only given barely ten minutes to really dive into it. What fascinated me most was director Neil Burger‘s involvement in the set design and camera movement to convey and hit home the confinements of the ship and the feelings of paranoia and claustrophobia — Burger really wanted each room or space to represent a different aspect of these feelings and emotions.
- Hidden Chambers: Tour the Humanitas (HD): A tour of the ship.
Overall, Neil Burger‘s Voyagers is a mixed bag of sci-fi, presenting a familiar story with a fresh location. The film’s highlights include performances by its leading cast and Burger’s attention to detail on set design and creating the space in which he tells his story, even if the script bounces around a little too quickly and without enough purpose to drive home the themes that he is exploring.
Lionsgate’s 4K UHD combo pack boasts a distinct visual style that is heightened on the 4K UHD disc, but not to the point of making it a significant upgrade from the Blu-ray, especially considering both discs lack a Dolby ATMOS track and they share the same amount of brief, but welcoming special features. Fans of the film will likely want to grab the 4K UHD combo pack to future-proof their collection and to get the film in the best possible format, but don’t be surprised if the discs aren’t noticeably different from each other.