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Voyagers | A Ridiculous Piece of Psychological Sci-Fi

Unhinged and completely preposterous.

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*Warning: This piece contains spoilers for Voyagers.*

About twenty minutes into Neil Burger’s Voyagers, where the film’s two main characters, Christopher (Tye Sheridan) and Zac (Fionn Whitehead), stop drinking “the blue,” a medicine that suppresses their impulses and pleasure receptors, it becomes clear that the movie will start to veer off from a rather promising sci-fi confinement picture into something completely ridiculous and barely comprehensive. Before, it established a story of how a group of scientists artificially conceived astronauts will be the first generation of an 86-year long mission to reach a planet ripe for colonization. “The blue” is a drink that keeps the astronauts in check so they do not make irrational decisions. Once the two main characters take the blue, however, it’s a completely different story.

Zac becomes increasingly psychotic, thinking he can get (and do) what he wants and become the new chief officer, after the previous one, Richard (Colin Farrell), dies while on a repair mission with Christopher. The astronauts believe it’s an Alien, which allows Zac to instill fear in the minds of its gullible crew, to pit it against Christopher, who believes rationality will prevail. He’ll convince half of the crew that the Alien is “inside” the astronauts, and the only way they’ll be able to complete the mission is by finding and killing it. However, there is no Alien as it’s revealed that Zac murdered Richard to take control of the mission and have “free will” instead of control from drinking “the blue.” It’s now up to Christopher and Sela (Lily-Rose Depp) to regain control of the ship and kill Zac before he manipulates the crew further.

Voyagers' Review: 'Lord of the Flies' in Space, and in Cool T-Shirts -  Variety

With a concept this out-there, Voyagers could be the type of film conspiracy theorists revel in, as it showcases what they admittedly think is happening during the COVID-19 pandemic, where blue-drinking sheeple blindly follow instructions like a herd, but the free-willed spirits will ultimately prevail. What they don’t know is that rationality, science, and pragmatism always prevail, as conspiracy movements are a barrage of self-owns; they denounce the “controlled” and “brainwashed” sheeple when they protest their own brainwashed and crazed-up theories inside a herd, walking down in the same direction, blindly following their shepherds. Zac represents the fear-driven shepherd, who’ll manipulate and brainwash irrational astronauts to act on impulse after they’ve all stopped drinking the blue, which will result in hedonistic activities and pure hysteria, as he’s able to easily manipulate everyone by making them think an Alien is among the crew.

You’d think the crew would be able to think critically and exercise judgment when they see that Zac is responsible for Richard’s death. Still, even then, he’s able to spin it brilliantly by making them believe he did it because he “saw the Alien in him.” And people blindly believe him, through an “invisible enemy” that may infect the entire ship, but most notably out of fear. But here are the facts: there is no Alien, but there is a mission to complete and succeed for the third generation to arrive at the planet. Christopher will try to rationalize the crew, but unfortunately, he can’t stand up against a tyrant who wants total control over the mission under the guise of “free will.” Many sequences involving Zac, Christopher, and Sela are profoundly misogynistic, with moments of sexual assault disguised as “pleasure” for Zac. These scenes are terribly uncomfortable to watch and add nothing strictly to the main plot.

As an actor, Fionn Whitehead excelled in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. However, Voyagers is his most embarrassing film to date, playing an antagonist without any form of nuance or menace. He’s only evil because that’s his true nature. When he stopped drinking the blue, he felt more pleasure but revealed who he really is towards the group: a misogynist, self-serving asshole. Whitehead exudes those traits quite well, but the script he’s given makes his character feel more caricatural than anything else. Other actors seem fairly unengaged with its story, with Tye Sheridan continuing to prove he cannot carry a film nor make his lines feel urgent in any capacity. Zac’s mutiny feels like an urgent situation the chief officer must solve. Still, Christopher never feels pressured to regain control of the ship and nonchalantly tries to find strategies with Lily-Rose Depp, who is as bored as Sheridan is.

Sheridan impressed audiences in Ready Player One and Mud but barely held attention in films such as Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse or his tenure in the X-Men saga. As such, without compelling actors and a competent script, Voyagers barely holds attention. The only decent actor in this mess gets killed after twenty minutes of screentime, with his talents wasted as those were the only sequences where the film truly soared. Colin Farrell can be in a film for less than five minutes (see Artemis Fowl) and can still impact the audience. That’s how legendary an actor he is, but his talents shouldn’t be used for films like this.

“A film like this? What kind of film is this?” you may ask (or not). I have no idea. It desperately wants to comment on current world situations, where leaders exercise control over free will, but “free will” ultimately becomes control if more gullible people become brainwashed in what they think is “free will.” Here’s some food for thought: we’re not “free.” We must always abide by rules that govern our society while quasi-living in our own free path. Freedom or, in this case, free will isn’t earned by “awakened” individuals fighting against so-called tyranny when they are the real tyrants preventing society from emancipating itself through rationality & science. It’s only earned when we, as individuals, develop critical thought and stop letting the uncertainty of the outside world dictate our feelings. That’s legitimate free will and not the freedom to do what you want, when you want, at the peril of others for your egotistical self. If you may think I’m a pessimist or a bit of a downer, then that’s fine, but that’s what I grasped while watching Voyagers: a film that wants to raise awareness on the question of free will vs. control, but becomes a rather unhinged and incompetent psychological sci-fi film instead. You’re better off watching The Matrix, which asks the same overall question in a more thoughtful light.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwJkexUBSegu0026amp;ab_channel=LionsgateMovies
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Comic Book Movies

X-Men ’97 Review | Nostalgic, Epic & Marvelous!

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X-Men '97 (Disney)

Get ready for action-packed adventure, many surprise cameos and a storyline that takes

Plot

A band of mutants use their uncanny gifts to protect a world that hates and fears them; they’re challenged like never before, forced to face a dangerous and unexpected new future.

X-Men ’97 (Disney)

Review

X-Men ’97 is a revival of the classic 1990s animated television series. The storyline picks up directly after the events of the original series, maintaining continuity and preserving the beloved elements that made the original a hit show back in the day. Many of the original voice cast members have returned, including Cal Dodd as Wolverine, Lenore Zann as Rogue, George Buza as Beast, Alison Sealy-Smith as Storm and Adrian Hough as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler, which adds a layer of originality and contributes to the overall nostalgia of the television show​. Here I’m feeling like a little kid again, watching the show on a Saturday morning. I was 7 years old when it was on television in the early mornings, and it still brings back fond memories.

There were a number of new stars who joined the show such as Ray Chase who replaced Norm Spencer as Cyclops, Jennifer Hale who replaced Catherine Disher as Jean Grey, Holly Chou who replaced Alyson Court as Jubilee, A.J. LoCascio as Gambit, Matthew Waterson as Magneto, J.P. Karliak as Morph, Isaac Robinson-Smith as Bishop, Ross Marquand as Professor Charles Xavier and Gui Agustini as Roberto da Costa/Sunspot.

X-Men ’97 (Disney)

The series starts off in a world where the X-Men grapple with the loss of Professor Charles Xavier. Amidst all the chaos and uncertainty, Magneto rises to the occasion and becomes the new leader of the X-Men. This provides additional drama and the team dynamics is frequently tested with the new leadership. While dealing with the new leadership dynamics the X-Men finds themselves still dealing with people who would stop at nothing to end all mutants. The storyline doesn’t hold back on the action sequences and themes such as grief, loss and acceptance are touched on throughout the series.

The trailer of the show doesn’t spoil anything for the viewer, and I highly encourage you to watch every intro and try to spot any new changes. The show provides many cameos and easter eggs, keeping my hopes alive of a potential crossover.

The story ends with a twist, leaving you hungry for the next season, and as any Marvel movie or television show would have it, a mid-credits scene to whet your appetite for what’s to come. If you are new to X-Men you can still jump in and watch the television series, but I highly recommend watching the original series to get you up to date with most of the lore and history of the X-Men.

X-Men ’97 keeps the legacy of our favorite mutants alive with a well-written story that is filled with emotion, surprises and promises of more adventures.

Thank you Beau DeMayo for an eXcellent story! I rate this show a 5 out of 5!

Will we skip the intro song? No! I don’t think we will. Make sure to catch the show on Disney Plus!

https://youtu.be/mp1Pax-QHlA?si=-fFlVYBRIPnLQyVO
X-Men ’97 Final Trailer (Marvel Entertainment)

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‘The Present’ Review | A Heartfelt Family Adventure with a Magical Twist

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The Present
A still from 'The Present' (The Movie Partnership)

In the heartwarming film ‘The Present,’ a young boy stumbles upon a mysterious grandfather clock with the extraordinary ability to transport him through time. Driven by the hope of reuniting his parents, he embarks on a magical journey with his siblings to prevent their family from falling apart. As they face challenges together, they discover the enduring power of love and the true meaning of family.

Over the years, we have seen a lot of time-travel movies, but ‘The Present’ is a bit different from those movies. It’s not about saving the world and defending the universe from aliens. It’s all about keeping a family together and feeling loved again. In Christian Ditter’s cute romantic-comedy film, we see Jen (Isla Fisher) and Eric (Greg Kinnear) having a dinner with their three children: Emma (Shay Rudolph), Max (Mason Shea Joyce), and Taylor (Easton Rocket Sweda). However, things go downhill when the parents announce that they are separating. The next day, an old clock that used to be in Eric’s father’s house arrives at their house and they decide to keep it in their basement. Something is written on the clock, and it reads, “This clock can help you now and then, but only you can change events.” Soon, Taylor finds out that the clock can be used to time travel and alter events. As a result, he stitches a plan, along with his siblings, to bring their parents together.

Shay Rudolph and Easton Rocket Sweda in ‘The Present’ (The Movie Partnership’

The enchanted grandfather clock is a delightful narrative device that immediately draws the audience into a world where the impossible becomes possible. Who wouldn’t want to turn the clock back and alter certain events? The clock, intricately designed and exuding an air of mystical antiquity, serves as both, a literal and metaphorical centerpiece for the story. However, the movie is not just about the clock or what it does, it is about the extreme lengths children can go to restore their family. The themes of love, forgiveness, and the passage of time are woven throughout the film, offering moments of reflection and emotional resonance. The makers have subtly shown how challenging it can be to mend things, emphasizing the importance of understanding and empathy within familial relationships. Certain moments in the film would surely encourage you to let your family know how much they are valued.

Writers have done a great job in stitching a story that’s not complex. Everything that takes place in front of our eyes is neither flashy nor over the top, which makes the movie even more relatable. However, certain elements could have been infused to make the script even better. We could have seen a bit more emotional turmoil between the central pair to have a better idea about their state. On the other hand, the relationship between Jen and the kids should have been explored a little more. Apart from that, there are pacing issues in certain scenes, which could have been mended with tighter editing. Despite these shortcomings, ‘The Present’ is a charming film that offers a warm and engaging experience.

Isla Fisher and Greg Kinnear in ‘The Present’ (The Movie Partnership)

Acting-wise, Isla Fisher and Greg Kinner are splendid in their respective roles. Both actors are fully committed to their roles and don’t miss a beat. Fisher has evolved as an actor and it would be a travesty if we don’t see her healing a big blockbuster soon. The young cast delivers commendable performances, particularly Mason Shea Joyce, whose wide-eyed innocence and determination drive the film forward. Meanwhile, Shay Rudolph is as wonderful as Emma. The chemistry between the siblings feels genuine, their camaraderie reflecting a realistic portrayal of sibling dynamics.

Overall, ‘The Present’ succeeds in delivering a touching, family-friendly adventure. Its enchanting premise, mixed with heartfelt performances, makes it a worthwhile watch, especially for families seeking a film with positive messages.

‘The Present’ hit UK cinemas on May 24.

 

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Netflix

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 Review: Have They Lost Their Spark?

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Sam Phillips as Lord Debling, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

Dearest gentle reader, Lady Whistledown is back for another Bridgerton season, and this time for her own love story (the ton doesn’t need to know). Classy as ever, Bridgerton Season 3 focuses primarily on Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton’s characters Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton as they take their friendship to another level.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

What is Bridgerton Season 3 About?

After focusing on Daphne and Anthony Bridgerton in the first and second seasons, the story is now following Colin Bridgerton’s story with the girl next door. Penelope was many things for Colin but never a love interest. She was his sister’s best friend, a girl next door, a friend, and someone who had a crush on him. It’s no secret for the viewers that Penelope had a huge crush on Colin for years, but our girl finally feels ready to move on and get her life together. She is now in search of a husband after getting her heart broken in the last season.

What Stole the Show?

Apart from Nicola Coughlan getting the most deserving highlight, Netflix did their fan service and gave more screen time to now-extremely popular Benedict Bridgerton. Benedict Bridgerton has always been one of the fan favorite characters but after this season he has certainly got a huge following. Luke Thompson’s charms deserve to be studied in a university. He seems to be people’s new crush and I don’t blame them! The beautifully written dialogues are as usual top notch.

Bridgerton is famous for many reasons, including its orchestral remix of popular songs. This season Pitbull’s ‘Give Me Everything’ is in the limelight as one doesn’t expect such an iconic party song to sound so classy. Huge kudos to the makeup and costume department for carrying the show with its theme gracefully. They certainly grasped the attention and enhanced the characters of the show.

Benedict Bridgerton and Lady Tilley Arnold

Benedict Bridgerton and Lady Tilley Arnold

What’s Bothering Us in The Show?

The scripting of the show seems rushed. It lacks the spice, passion, and the slow burn romance that defines a Bridgerton story. Colin’s character has been poorly developed this time. After being sidelined for the last two seasons this one was supposed to make him the knight in shining armor, but he rather lacks the character. He tries to help Penelope only because he feels guilty for insulting and hurting her. Later on, he ruins her chance with a great suitor only because he feels jealous for not having her. He acts like a child who wants his toy back as soon as some other child starts playing with it. He misses Penelope’s attention after seeing her happy with someone else who wants to marry her. Some may call it ‘true love’ but I believe it’s too immature and childish thing to do for a Bridgerton character. Nothing against Luke Newton but his character development is not helping the show.

Apart from lacking the slow-build and passionate love story, the show seems to have forgotten about Daphne and Simon Basset (played by Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page) completely. Anthony and Kate Bridgerton (played by Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley) appear in one episode and are not even mentioned in the rest.

Nicola Coughlan – The Show’s Star

Nicola Coughlan is shining brighter than any star in the sky. Both Nicola and Penelope are role models for body positivity. Young girls and women across the globe highly relate to Penelope and seeing her accepting herself, being comfortable in her own skin, and getting a complete makeover to feel more like herself is bound to create a positive wave among the fans. Unlike the last two Seasons, the Third Season is also focusing on other characters of the show as well, as it creates branches and stories for potential upcoming seasons. Yet, no one and nothing shines in front of Nicola Coughlan as she wears her crown with grace.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington

Is It Better Than Last Two Seasons?

Each Bridgerton story has its unique charm that keeps our eyes glued to the screens. Some love Season 1, others like Season 2, and the rest prefer Season 3 but is it better than the last two? Probably not. Nothing can beat Season 1! As much as the show focuses on the ‘Friends to Lovers’ storyline, it lacks the true essence of romance and no, I’m not talking about the spiciness even though they severely lack to give us butterflies. Polin’s storyline sometimes gives us butterflies but not as much as previous seasons did. The groundwork for the couple was laid since the first season yet they are not coming as strong and passionate as expected.

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 is currently available to stream on Netflix. Part 2 will be released on June 13.

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