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  • The entire genesis sequence dealing with the origins of the universe and inception of life on Earth was my favourite thing about The Tree of Life. So when it was later announced that director Terrence Malick plans to make a documentary that would examine the birth & death of the known universe, it instantly earned a spot amongst my most awaited films of the year.

    A long time coming, Voyage of Time has been Malick's pet project for well over 40 years, and finally made its way into cinemas in two editions; one being a 40-minute IMAX documentary narrated by Brad Pitt, other being a 90-minute version narrated by Cate Blanchett. This is the review of the latter, and although one would expect more to be better, it's certainly not the case here.

    Voyage of Time: Life's Journey celebrates all that exists. Spanning from the birth of the universe to its eventual collapse, it is an exploration into our planetary past, all that Earth has endured over the course of billions of years, including the dawn of life and how evolution has led us to this particular moment to a preview of what awaits in the future, all accompanied by Blanchett's insipid narration.

    Written & directed by Terrence Malick, I'm hoping the IMAX version is devoid of all the things that made this 90-minute edition a chore to sit through. Sure it looks beautiful and Malick's sweeping cinematic eye has no comparison but those low-grade DV footage interspersed within its beautiful & breathtaking IMAX photography plus Blanchett's bland philosophical ramblings totally ruins it.

    In The Tree of Life, the whole creation sequence exhibited a perfect marriage between its visual & aural elements, had a calm & soothing effect on the emotions, and it was visually arresting to say the least. Here, everything is all over the place. The music fails to complement its fleeting images, anytime things seem to be getting a little better, Blanchett would utter something, and it could've done without some segments.

    On an overall scale, Voyage of Time: Life's Journey is jam-packed with jaw-dropping photography but no amount of spellbinding images can make up for what this documentary lacks in content. It never feels immersive, it never feels meditative, it never feels informative, and it even manages to make Cate Blanchett's voice annoying after a while. It is no doubt an ambitious undertaking and something great could have been accomplished here but in the end, Malick's dream project is as forgettable as it is banal.
  • This film is a collage of scenes from astronomy, physical geography, marine biology and anthropology.

    I've watched many Terence Malick's recent films, so I know what to expect. It certainly does contain many visually beautiful scenes, that I would marvel at when I watch the National Geographic or the Discovery Channel. However, I'm not watching these channels. The narration tries to make the film sound deep and profound, but ultimately it isn't. It's a pretentious pseudo-philosophical film.
  • jenschristianberg16 September 2017
    This IS the BEST documentary I have seen in my entire life. One who seeks the truth, will know its true meaning. Thank you to all who made this documentary possible, I feel like the luckiest person alive right now to have witnessed it. It is simply the truth. I will watch it many many times more.
  • Viewed by Larry Gleeson during the 73rd Venice International Film Festival at the Sala Darsena Theater.

    Acclaimed director Terrence Malick (Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line, Badlands) is bringing to light consciousness of the universe and what it means to be a human being in the present moment in his latest production, Voyage of Time: Life's Journey, produced by Dede Gardner, Nicolas Gonda, Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Sophokles Tasioulis, Brad Pitt and Grant Hill. Paul Atkins served as the Cinematographer while Dan Glass handled special effects. Keith Fraase and Rahman Ali provided editing. Cate Blanchett narrated this version.

    Director Malick reached out to a Harvard Professor of Natural History and the author of Life On a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years and Biology: How LIfe Works, Andrew Knoll, and said he wanted to make a picture about natural history and the cosmos grounded in science. Malick had long been an admirer of natural history films drawing inspiration from earlier films such as Cheese Mites, a 1903 landmark film by British cinema pioneer Charles Urban and zoologist Francis Martin Duncan, depicting the microbial world inside a piece of Stilton cheese, and George Melies' 1902 Le Voyage Dans La Lune. Knoll had seen Malick's recent film at the time, Badlands. Having enjoyed the film, Knoll agreed to be a part of it. Little did he know of Malick's appetite to thoroughly investigate and devour subjects and correlating theories.

    An ambitious project in the making for over two decades, Voyage runs the gamut of time from the first cells splitting and foraging their way in and through their vacuous environment to the land of the dinosaurs and Tyrannus Rex to the dawn of man up to today and into the future with sweeping visuals and spectacular effects sure to encapsulate and stimulate the mind's imagination of time and place.

    The result is a journey uncovering what shape and form time has given and what shape and form that time has taken. From the early Primordial III stars that ushered the first sparkles of light to the universe and the Tiktaalik fish that came out of the oceans to walk on land.

    Special Effects Supervisor Dan Glass provided wide-ranging special effects from an Austin, Texas photographic laboratory called Skunkworks, a techie and industry term connoting radical innovation in research and development in conjunction with a variety of scientists and artists who collaborated to give representation to abstract images. While chemical experiments were conducted, a myriad of liquids, solids, and gasses were filmed at high speeds to generate a spectrum of effects as the team produced an array of stunning images.

    In addition, sublime photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's interplanetary space probes, the Solar Dynamic Observatory - a satellite observing the sun, as well as adapted supercomputer simulations and electron-microscopy are added to the production's visual cornucopia of images.

    Long time cinematographer Paul Atkins was charged with assembling a series of forest and desertscapes as well as seascapes to provide backdrop for the computer generated imagery of long-lost species. To provide contrast and to remind viewers of the ebb and flow of existence - and its future- , contemporary images of humankind were collected from lo-fi Harinezumi cameras Malick handed out to people across the globe that produced warm and fuzzy, colorful images.

    Sound designer Joel Dougherty created and meshed in natural and speculative sounds of the universe. Meanwhile, Music Supervisor Lauren Mikus working closely with Malick selected instrumental pieces to evoke the swirling, swelling and creative energy at both ends of the magnitude scale.

    To watch Voyage of Time is a journey unto itself. Malick tells his story in a non-linear fashion allowing the viewer to create meaning from what's being shown and from what's being seen. The film opens with an establishing shot of clouds and blue skies. The shot is juxtaposed with a cut to a dystopian futurist refugee camp with fires burning. Then, a jump is made to what appears to be plasma. Cate Blanchett's voice-over begins with a soothing quality as she vocalizes, "Light giver. Light bringer. Who are you?" Blanchett continues with some pretty heady questioning throughout the rest of the film's narrative:

    "What brought me here? Where are you leading me? Who am I to you? Will we always be together? Where are you? Mother, does your goodness never fail? Will you abandon me? Did love make me?" If you like stunning visuals and mind-boggling questions, I would hallucinate that this is a film for you. Recommended.

    Voyage of Time will be released in two differing formats. One a 90-minute poetic foray full of open questions narrated by Cate Blanchett and the second a 45-minute giant screen adventure for all ages narrated by Brad Pitt.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is very beautiful. Truly, magnificent images and colors.

    But oh, so boring.

    It took me half of the movie to catch what it was about, since I barely glanced at the summary beforehand. I love nature documentaries, so I decided to go watch it without really looking it up. I mean, you should be able to understand a movie without having read a 1000 words summary beforehand, no?

    Anyway.

    Very beautiful, but. Implied philosophic ideas, which feels a bit cowardly since nothing is actually said, Cate B. says maybe 50 disjointed words during the movie with very little interest, we might as well have no narrator, it would have had the same effect. There are many time jump back and forth with zero warning.

    I loved watching the space and ocean pictures, it was magnificent. (I could have done without the insects, lol) Some animals are seriously freaky, wow.

    One of my biggest problem is that since there's not really a narrator, you're show many beautiful places and animals... but you have zero context, you don't know where, you don't know what.

    I feel like I should have stayed at home. The most beautiful parts were the space images, which I already have since my computer's backgrounds are Hubble photos from the NASA, and there are a lot of nature docs on the net which would have fulfilled my ocean needs.

    I liked the parallels between nature is beauty/don't mess it up/people should care for each other and nature, but I was so bored halfway through that I ended up barely paying attention. I was writing this review in my mind...
  • I have to echo others who've pointed out that this is not a documentary. It is an abstract feature film, a poem, an epic non-linear meditative piece about the wonder of nature and existence.

    I was almost put off purchasing this by some negative reviews (I missed the theatrical release and could only find a Dutch import available on bluray) but if you are in any way a fan of Terrence Malick you should really appreciate this as much as I did. It reminded me as much if the nature scenes of The Thin Red Line as it did moments of The Tree of Life.

    The narration is subtle, infrequent and not at all irritating as some have suggested. The words are few and far between and serve to bind the images together to deliver a message of wonder, respect, at times despair, but ultimately peace over our place in the world. I know that sounds pretentious but I really did find it profound and inspiring. The images committed to film are also some of the best I've ever seen and it is a privallege to have it captured and to witness it.

    I accept some people will find this film insufferable, but if you have an appreciation for visual spectacle and/or poetry and/or existential thought and meditation then this film is made for you.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This documentary jumped around so much, present (homeless people), past, present, past again, I got lost trying to figure out what was going on, the narration had nothing to do with the documentary, Mother, where are you, Mother, speak to me, it would have done better with no narration. People are going to say, Mother, is Mother Earth but the film started in the present and Cate Blanchard is asking where are you with the cameraman sticking the camera in homeless people's faces, that is when I thought this film has nothing to do with Voyage of Time.
  • Galadriel the Noldo, the oldest of all living Elves in Middle Earth, recounts the Music of the Ainur, the creation of Arda, and the subsequent fall of Melkor. All living things are contained in her speech, and the magical images she creates for us speak of her immense power and knowledge, bathing the experiencer in a divine light. Upon watching this, one may put to rest his burden and plight, and with renewed vigor come to see them as a simple stepping stone in the Voyage of Time. The Valar are not represented in their physical image, but as allegories. The coming of Iluvatar's children and the corruption of Morgoth is also told in a symbolic fashion, presented by a handful of adventurers who wake in the desert and are drawn to Morgoth without first possessing the eyes to see the Evil and Malice he brings. Those who understand what I'm saying will also understand the documentary, for it is Wisdom condensed into 90 minutes. If you do not see it, I can only say that you are well off your path, seeking entertainment and plot, instead of investing your heart and soul into a transcendental experience. Immersing yourself into the film is a prerequisite, and if you are too proud or too ignorant to do so, be as you are. You will also come to know the Abyss which lies beyond Arda. Of the Fourth Age, the Age of Men, nothing is spoken, for it is still shrouded in the fog of the Future, and Mandos would not speak of it - not even to Manwe. Still waiting for the Quenta Silmarillion, hope Malick jumps on to that next.
  • I'm a actually a Malick Lover. I love the way he gives time to scenes and cut short beautiful sequences. Some movies are just unbelievable beautiful.

    in "Voyage of Time" are some fantastic shots but after I watched "The Tree of Life" I find it a little boring sometimes. Some scenes are too long, too slow and sometimes the dinosaurs looked pretty much like CGI. I didn't like that. There are some time travels - back and forth - which is nice and makes you compare and see what happened from one point to another. But the "now" often looked like filmed from a mobile cam which I do not appreciate. The voice of Cate Blanchett comes from the off and whispers some things but it'S quite hard to understand what that means when you watch the pictures. Actually I felt like I wouldn't need the voice. The pictures would be enough to me.

    But the movie is definitly on unusual documentary and I would recommend it to documntary fans who like to see some experimental documentary stuff. It's definitly a good movie, but not the best thing T. Malick ever made. Maybe.. you should watch it in an IMAX cinema. I did not do that... so that could be a point I did wrong. I watch the bluray version.
  • One of the previous films of Terrence Malick , The Tree of Life included a long segment about the origins of the Universe. When I saw that movie it was not at all clear to me how that part was related to the rest of the story - a family saga developing around a complicated father - son relationship. Director Malick was so much in love with that part that he decided to abandon any fiction in his latest movie and focus on the cosmology story. The result is Voyage of Time: Life's Journey which is listed as a documentary, although I have a hard time sticking it into that category either. Documentaries have as goal educating, or making statements about history or society or nature. Here we seem to be closer to poetry or sophisticated video art. What counts eventually is not the category but the result.

    The film starts with CGI images of the birth of the Universe combined with cosmic video art based on images of the most remote (thus the earliest) galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. It continues with images that describe or reconstruct the birth of Earth, the appearance of water and life, the evolution of plants and animals, the cosmic events (like the asteroid that almost eradicated life on Earth and put an end to the dominance and very existence of the dinosaurs), the emergence of mankind and its evolution towards the mega-cities of today, with their human mosaic and social problems. Most of the images combine fabulous nature filming with computerized effects and they are great, the story telling is visually astounding and has its own logic. I would have loved the film to be only visuals. I would have even accepted the soundtrack although I am not great fan of the world music or Gregorian chants, not when used in New Age messaging. Unfortunately Malick decided to add a spoken commentary and I simply could not make any sense of it. Some incantations and frightened kid questions directed to an over-present Mother (Nature? a feminine God?) were repeated over and over. To be clear, I like and I understand poetry, I respect religious feelings and texts, but the spoken commentary was nothing of these. The fact that Cate Blanchett , an actress that I deeply admired borrowed her voice to read this text, did not help, it just made me mad because I feel that her huge talent was wasted here. The result is just boring, and I surprised myself almost napping despite the beauty on screen.

    OK. So Terrence Malick wanted hardly to make a film about the history of the Universe. A Film about Everything. The Film about Everything. Now that you made it, please, Mr. Malick , come back to making the films we loved you for, films like Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line.
  • A gorgeous and visually perfect documentary, that is not educational, but it's kind of art, meditative and lyrical essay on the deepest possible theme - astonishment over nature, space and life on Earth. Just few words, mostly narrated by very fascinating and impressive visual. I like Malick's poetic art a lot, it's hard to find in the whole cinematography a director who could create at least a similarly fascinating visuals as this genius. Its close to be perfect, I only miss stronger emotions or better story, e.g. The Thin Red Line (best antiwar movie) or Days of Heaven I find phenomenal.
  • Like so many other reviewers have mentioned, this movie was an annoying waste of time I couldn't even finish as it was inducing narcolepsy.

    *Nothing new stated, so no learning potential *Some simulated graphics segments were beautiful, some look phoned in *Above mentioned work juxtaposed with cheap attempts to "imagine" early man, earth, etc. *Pointless segments with poor Cate desperately trying to whisper metaphorical crap in hopes I guess of stimulating existential thought(this worked only long enough to wonder why this film exists) *Above segments admittedly written by Malick, which serve as notice to Hollywood to never allow him to write anything like this for screen again.

    I don't want to take away from some of the obviously hard work done by others on this film, but overall, I get the feeling good talent was wasted on this sophomoric attempt at a documentary.

    Honestly, you'd get more out of re-watching anything like The Universe, HTUW, or anything Brian Cox has done.

    Terrance, if you're reading this...science doesn't need metaphors...it's not throwaway drama, it's reality, act like it when you do a project like this.
  • This movie is like a meditation over time. You cannot watch this movie with expectation of what it may taught you about time. Instead, you should watch it without any expectation and just feel the visuals and sound. Everything is as real as it can be, and as touching as it can get. This is truly a masterpiece about time.
  • I rarely ever write reviews about movies, but this 40 minute IMAX movie was devoid of content. "My child...What's death?" "My child... What's perfection?" with Christian choir music in the backgroun is all that you'll get from the narration. The visuals don't make sense - slow shots of of swirling red and black clouds. This IMAX was dark, creepy and pointless. Even my 6 year old said "I learned nothing" about history or science in this movie.
  • This is not a documentary, but one of my better screen savers lol.

    Yes, stunning visuals, but a documentary is meant to be informative and educational, and this is neither.

    The narrating (when present) is annoying. But, very stunning visuals.

    When I have a cocktail party at my home, this is my backdrop visual on my 65" screen and it's awesome! Of course the volume is off and I have elevator music playing from my stereo and the combined effect is perfect (you're welcome)!

    -5 for the docu, +5 for the visuals = 5/10 score
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Terence Malick's abstract indulgence, "VOYAGE of Time~ Life's Journey", viewed at the 2016 Venice Film Festival, had lots of fascinating imagery --especially of African animals like giraffes in silhouette, gliding sharks with gaping jaws, and other underwater sea life -- (plus some horribly repulsive other creatures) -- but overall was as Pretentious as it's title, basically incoherent, and massively boring in spite of the interesting imagery --lots of volcano eruptions and lava flows apparently intended to convey the turbulence of Creation -- but this was more of a Big Bust than a Big Bang.

    Cate Blanchett's minimal "narration" limited as it was to what amounted to spare Italian inter-titles visually -- ("Madre" repeated over and over... ) was totally unnecessary and served only to trivialize the subject matter.

    The other abstract film this week at Venice, SPIRA MIRABILIS, was far more coherent and generally better if abstraction is your cup of tea. Malick got scattered unenthusiastic applause at the end but I think most viewers. were as underwhelmed as I was although there were pools of heated discussions among the cognoscenti outside of the massive Sala Darsena after the screening. It was the most breathlessly awaited film of the week with a turn-away crowd and also the biggest disappointment of the week as well. Certainly glad I didn't have to pay hard cash to see it and had to force myself not to walk out before the end.

    Basic Assessment: Cosmic Self Indulgence: More of a Big Bust than a Big Bang.

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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Some stunning photography of the beauty, complexity and diversity of life on this planet, showing creatures that could never have evolved. I found that very compelling the way it was emphasized.

    Confirms what most of us already knew. Maybe this would be good for schoolchildren to see who are confused about all the conflicting evolution theories.

    The underwater shots were magnificent. We saw incredible and very unusual fish that I'd never seen before. I had to look them up on the computer to get their names.

    It was funny seeing the Australian Aborigines in the outback looking at that ostrich. I guess the producer didn't know they have emus not ostriches in Australia. There were a few mistakes like that, but not many.

    The strangest parts were where it flashes back and forth to all those odd culture and religious practices. Some of that was brutal and strange. Didn't seem to fit the flow of the movie.

    Oh, and the poem read by Cate Blanchett to her mother was interesting but didn't really fit. It would have been better if she had told us more about these unusual animals all through the movie.

    Overall I was impressed. It was a little disjointed, but some great photography.
  • linda-osite24 February 2019
    Incredibly beautiful piece of art for those who can appreciate it as such. Mesmerizing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I think I'm finally Malicked out.

    Yes, the cinematography is simply stunning, the score, editing and special effects are also brilliant, especially the use of fluids, the colours are amazing.

    However, using Cate Blanchetts annoying voice doesn't add anything to the film at all. In fact, it makes it feel like that stupid perfume ad when she keeps saying Si to me. Brad Pitt would have been a much better choice, especially as he was one of the producers.

    I'm not really sure where Malick can go from here. I know this has taken 20 years to make, I think he just collected footage during the breaks on set.

    Maybe the next film will be the Life of an Ant, where we follow an Ant around for 2 hours with someone equally annoying speaking on behalf of that ant
  • This film had potential. Mixing live footage, wild live documentary, history and science fiction is a great idea. Some of the nature parts are superb. I've seen a few decent CGI sequences. Not a big fan of the live footage though. But what really ruins this movie for me is the voiceover taken from a cheap meditation video asking too many questions about where we come from and where we are going too. It's a bit like a yoga session focussing too much on the alignment of your chakras and your third eye.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Based on how it was promoted I walk into this expecting a short documentary providing a quick tour of the history of the universe, while this is obviously a large topic there are meaningful things that can be said about it in 45 minutes. (e.g. the sort of content that you'd see in the first lecture of an intro pale course, with very brief coverage of big bang, first gen starts and stellar formation at the beginning).

    What the movie actually turned out to be was a lot of mysticism wrapped up in a scientific veneer. It repeated asked questions and then invited people to wonder at the open-question rather than attempting to answer the question (or even get the audience to answer the question it was clear that it really wanted to be about spirituality but also wanted to look like a legitimate documentary). This was even the case with questions that many first or second year students would have little trouble answering.

    It also routinely miss placed images in the chronology it was covering (e.g. talking about pre-Permian cephalopods but showing pictures of cuddlefish, showing iron enriched sedimentary deposits before talking about oxygenation etc...) Still gave it two starts at the photography and CGI was good even if it was sub-par in most other ways.
  • Disappointing work from Malick, who I admired so much in "The Thin Red Line", "Days of Heaven" and "The tree of life." The only saving grace in this work -- great choice of music as in all Malick films, mostly Arvo Part and Beethoven. I prefer Godfrey Reggio's "Qatsi trilogy" to this Malick venture. Even Kubrick surpassed Malick in the early man depictions in "2001--A space odyssey" compared to Malick in this film. The editing in this film and in "Song to Song" is incredibly pedestrian.
  • A project that had reportedly been on director Terrence Malick's radar in some way, shape or form for over 30 years, The Voyage of Time (one of two released versions of this story, one being a shorter IMAX version) is the famed Texan auteurs first ever foray into documentary filmmaking.

    Building upon the 20 minute segment that played out in Malick's Tree of Life from 2011, where we took a visually stunning trip to the beginning of the universe, Voyage of Time see's Malick explore the very moment the world we know came to life, from colourful cosmos's clashing together in space, volcano's bubbling to life, water springing forth from the earth and the beginning of nature.

    Those heading into the Voyage of Time expecting a Natural Geographic like presentation and scientific rundown of what is taking place on screen will be left wanting from Malick's film that even with Cate Blanchett's sporadic and riddle like narration, takes place on one of the director's known levels where he'd rather not explicitly explain what exactly is occurring at any given time.

    Without doubt, Voyage of Time is an often visually spectacular experience; it's frequently hard to even tell when CGI has been moulded into real captured footage but a problem many have had with Malick's more recent films; that being they aren't nearly as engaging as his early works were, rears its head again here in Voyage of Time.

    No matter the amount of pretty imagery, Malick's journey through time can't engage our hearts, there's almost a sense that we are just watching a director conjure up some eye capturing visual treats without much care for tying them all together. This version of the film also carries some annoying detours to modern day footage or grainy archival footage, footage that constantly takes us away from what was previously happening and it's hard to justify many of these scenes appearances.

    Final Say –

    A frustrating film, a project that could've been anything, Malick's The Voyage of Time is technically brilliant but cold as both an engaging documentary narrative and an educational tool piece. As most seem to say, if you're going to watch one of Malick's Voyage's make it the shorter IMAX experience.

    2 ostrich eggs out of 5
  • I'll tell you what: buy it, play it, mute it, no subtitles, put on your classic/inspirational/whatever music of your choice. Enjoy.
  • A lot of work for something that slow. I don't have patience to watch this film, so I skipped every 10 seconds every 1 second and I don't feel that I missed much. There was a lot of beautiful scenery that I can really appreciate. This film must have taken years to produce. It was really artistic but very boring, the narrating was weird, I don't claim to understand what the film was about, and I don't think that I should be the one to tell how the narrating should be, but something a little more informative could have helped on the boredom. Skipping every 10 seconds made it very interesting and beautiful.

    I give it a 6/10 because I watched it in about 10-15 minutes, if I had to watch it all without skipping anything I would probably have turned it off and perhaps given it less than 4/10.
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