Friday, March 2, 2018

Guest Review: The Osiris Child (2016)

by tryanmax

This is less of a review than it is a recommendation. The Osiris Child (a.k.a. Science Fiction Volume One) is the rare indie sci-fi project that can stand among the special effects blockbusters but still delivers on the human-level drama of a low-budget flick.

The story pulls together a lot of common tropes: a planet on the verge of destruction, a mega corporation with a hidden agenda, an officer who goes rogue to save his child, a team up with an escaped convict, a stop-off at a wretched hive of scum and villainy, and everyone has a complicated past. None of this undercuts the movie’s appeal.

To be sure, Osiris has some rough edges, but the pacing is brisk, so you never get to dwell on it. Some intense stuff happens out of frame (which may be good or bad, depending on your tastes) but there is still plenty of on-screen action including a couple great chase sequences and a prison riot.
The narrative unfolds in a very non-linear fashion. In a few places, this is frustrating, but overall, it’s a smart choice that both creates and solves mystery and propels the story. Chapter title cards help keep things clear while adding a bit of a graphic novel feel.

But the best part from a sci-fi perspective is how convincingly futuristic this film is. As in other films, the Australian Outback stands in for a sparse alien world. Special effects are used sparingly, so the ones they have are done well. Holographic displays may be ubiquitous even on cheap TV shows nowadays, along with spaceships and cityscapes, but those in Osiris are high-quality.
There are all sorts of little touches that sell the idea of being in the future. Everyone has a little device that they bump to transfer money, much like photo sharing on cell phones. A coffeemaker adds cream and sugar by voice command while an AI researches the main character’s ex-wife’s new boyfriend. Smart, subtle aesthetic choices hold the sci-fi feel without needing to have a hovercraft float by every few minutes. Fans of practical effects will be pleased, too, by the film’s creatures. (There are creatures!)

From a scripting perspective, the thing that really sets Osiris apart is how cooperative most everyone is. Unlike other action films that try to increase the tension through pointless bickering, everyone in Osiris seems to appreciate the larger stakes. Characters may start out suspicious of one another, but once motives are sussed out and found to reasonably align, everyone comes together rather easily. Even the meth-head gun dealers are basically decent fellas.
The Osiris Child is geared solidly at genre-lovers. Fans of Riddick, Mad Max, and Ridley Scott will definitely get the most out of this, but anyone who loves sci-fi action will warm to this. By the way, the ending is one of the best surprises I’ve encountered in a while.
[+]