Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
So when I first heard about The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One about a month ago when I was at Supanova the local geek convention here in Australia. I had not heard about it before then, but it was getting a lot of good buzz and I can’t remember the last good Australian sci-fi film I saw. So now that I’ve final had the chance to see it, honestly, I’m more than a little surprised at the level of quality of this small Indy film that packs a big punch.
So let’s set the scene, it’s some point in the future and humans have started to colonise the universe and out on the fringe there is a planet with a new colony, a flotilla floating above and a prison below with a deep secret ready to bust loose. It’s here that we meet Lt. Kane Sommerville (Daniel MacPherson) an officer for Exor the military contractor who is in charge of supporting new settlements. Sommerville has a conflicted past that drives him to be as far away from Earth as he can get, which is complicated because he has a daughter Indi (Teagan Croft) who has travelled across the Galaxy to see him. Since Sommerville lives on the Flotilla, a large orbiting space station, he leaves Indi on the planet in capital Osiris in the care of a babysitter as he works in orbit. The next day he wakes up to discover that there was a prison riot overnight and now all communications are lost with the surface, General Lynex (Rachel Griffiths) tells everyone it is because the prisoners are holding the planet hostage, but in reality it is because something buried deep in the heart of the prison has escaped and killing everything in its wake. So Sommerville has to rescue his daughter with the help of some of the people he runs into on the planet like Sy (Kellan Lutz), Gyp (Isabel Lucas), and Bill (Luke Ford) before everything is lost. So as far as setups go this is a really good start, you have a ticking clock, literally, a start for a redemption arc, and good illusions to something bigger at play.
One of the things I do have to give Osiris Child credit for is the really high levels of production that you just don’t expect to see in an Indy film with this kind of budget. A lot of care and attention has been put into getting the details looking right, the sets feel real, with those little touches to make them feel lived in. The bus they spend a lot of time in has been kitted out really well, the costumes all fit the style they are going for, and the Flotilla really nails that futuristic military feel. Osiris Child also has some really good special effects because they are very careful in only using them when needed, so this means when they do use them they can spend the money on making them look good. Sure, they do cut corners in places using blur or some creative camera angles to hide things but that does not take away for the work that they have done here. Another standout is the soundscape, the sound is one of those things that you don’t really notice until something is wrong, but here you notice it because at all times it is on point, with some really good foley work, and the score really hits all the right notes.
Now one of the reasons why the film looks as well as it does for its budget is they make great use of the built landscape that already exists. If you are an Australian you can already probably guess where they film parts of Osiris Child and you probably be right on the money. However, even from someone who lives in Australia some of those landscapes were majestic, and of course, there were space flies, there was no way you could edit them out. Now one area that didn’t quite work was the creature creation, now Osiris went for a puppet style for their creature, the sort of style of puppet you would see in Farscape but I’m not sure it quite worked. Part of that is that no matter the film the monster never looks as scary as you mind makes it out to be when you only see little bits of it, but also the style they used worked well for Farscape because there were a lot of different alien puppets, but here in isolation it stands out much more than it should have.
The action sequences are one of Osiris Child’s standout accomplishments, with a number of the scenes really hitting above their weight. The standout for me had to be the space fighter dogfight in the upper atmosphere of the planet, it was well structured and implemented, and was cut together to increase the intensity. Another thing I liked with the action was that in the brawls they filmed it in a way that made the punches feel like they had weight behind them, fists make a connection, and gave you the feeling that this punch hurt, it was also edited in a way where the action slowed well and you could tell what was going on at any one time. While I did like the action, they did overuse slow-mo a little too much and some of the inserts were a bit weird and unnecessary.
[Spoilers]So as I said Osiris Child has a great set up for a story and overall I think it was well executed and well-acted but not everything worked. There are a lot of framing devices used in Osiris Child, like the counting clock, chapters, jumping through time, and narration to help tell the story, and while good, some of these work better than others. The ticking clock was great because it gave us this constant reminder that time is of the essence. However, while the chapters help frame the time jumps and give Osiris Child the feeling of something grander in scope, the constant jumping did start to impact on the pacing of the film. Also while some of the reveals hit you right in the feels, some of the others leave you scratching your head, take for example why Sy was imprisoned, in today’s world it would be highly unlikely he would have seen much if any jail time and the movie doesn’t really give a good rational as to why he was treated the way he was. As well as this, the movie is narrated by Indi at some point it the future, which is a really good framing device, but as the movie progresses that she wouldn’t actually know some of the things she mentioned and that pulls you out of it a bit [End of Spoilers]. All the acting is solid, for me the standouts were Teagan Croft who nailed a very difficult role which would be impressive even before you realise that it is her first major acting role. Of course, there is also Temuera Morrison who has this air of authority in his mannerisms and speech that just fit this role to a tee. The two main leads Daniel MacPherson and Kellan Lutz play off each other really well, which you see in scenes like in the bar.
In the end, it’s clear from the movie, I mean look at the title, that this is meant to be the first of a series of films and given this first outing I’m really interested to see where they go next with this, I just hope people give it a chance.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – Shane Abbess
Story By – Shane Abbess & Brian Cachia
Music by – Brian Cachia
Cinematography by – Carl Robertson
Edited by – Adrian Rostirolla
Starring – Daniel MacPherson, Teagan Croft, Kellan Lutz, Isabel Lucas, Luke Ford, Firass Dirani, Bren Foster, Temuera Morrison & Rachel Griffiths
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: na; NZ: na; UK: na; USA: na