New movies: ‘Voyagers’ plays it safe; ‘Moffie’ is brilliant

It’s a rather quiet week on the movie front — not a Kong or Godzilla to be found. Among the highest-profile entries is Netflix’s “Thunder Force,” a superhero comedy with Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer. You can’t argue with those two leads, but the film wasn’t available in time for us to review. And there’s Lionsgate’s futuristic “Voyagers” with Tye Sheridan and Colin Farrell (see below).

Meanwhile, there are some new indie releases that are not to be missed.

Here’s our rundown.

“Voyagers”: Director/writer Neil Burger must have loved his high school English assignment to read “Lord of the Flies,” because he’s done a fine job of cutting and pasting the classic tale it into his teen space/sex odyssey “Voyagers.” His film orbits the same power-tripping themes but it settles for PG-13 tameness when it should have gone for an R. “Voyagers” brings up issues like repressed lust and power but doesn’t do enough with them. Berger sets his rather obvious space opera some 40 years in the future. Earth is dying so a mission takes off for another world to colonize. But here’s the hitch: It’ll take 86 years to get to there, meaning this crew will be dead before they land. So our intrepid space travelers have the dirty job of procreating and raising children. When the crew members discover they’re being sedated, rebellion ensues, with a parent-like commander (Colin Farrell) the key target for their outrage. Tye Sheridan and Lily-Rose Depp play two more principled voyagers who fall for each other while the two sides form around them. The story is all over the map, and “Voyagers” never capitalizes on its intriguing premise. Details: 2 stars out of four, in select theaters April 9).

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“Moffie”: To be a teen who is entering the military while questioning your own sexuality leads to an existence filled with shadows, lies, postures and fear of being found out for who you truly are. South African filmmaker Oliver Hermanus re-creates the inner turmoil of being a closeted male in the barracks with skill, sensitivity and sometimes savagery. “Moffie” — an offensive term for being gay —  is a true story told from the perspective of 16-year-old Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer), a do-gooder who knows he needs to fit in in order to survive. Like all male teens during that time in South Africa, he has to serve two years in the military during the Border War, another regretful chapter in Apartheid history. Hermanus and co-screenwriter Jack Sidey adapt André-Carl van der Merwe’s memoir with poetic eloquence, making the beautifully photographed drama that unfolds episodic yet cohesive. Often Hermanus adopts a cinema verite approach, eavesdropping on rowdy boys battering each other in the barracks and then asking the camera  to play witness to the terrible fate that befalls gay soldiers who act on their feelings. The ending is poignant and emotionally truthful; not overblown. This is a gentle beauty of a film with impressive work from a young cast. Details: 3½ stars; in select theaters and available …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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