J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Osiris Child: Oz Sci-Fi

Since the nation was founded as a penal colony, it makes sense Australia would produce a science fiction yarn about an uprising in a colonial space prison. The part about using the prison for top secret monster-creating experiments is where the logic breaks down. However, the unlikely circumstances create a wicked sense of urgency for Lt. Kane Sommerville, who must rescue his young daughter before the company that chartered the colony unleashes Armageddon on the planet’s surface in Shane Abbess’s The Osiris Child (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Somerville made a mistake that led to the death of his soldiers, but the whole incident was hushed up. The guilt-ridden officer hits the bottle hard, but he is still a crackerjack pilot. As far as being a parent goes, not so much. Yet, he and his daughter Indiana (Indi) can still bond by blasting old road signs in the desert. Unfortunately, the prison riot that frees the mutant monsters happens while Somerville is posted to the orbiting space station. To save Indi, he will have to hijack a ship, run the blockade, and make his way to the city of Osiris.

He will need a little help once he lands (hard). Fortunately, he immediately encounters Sy, a former nurse, who masterminded the escape attempt that precipitated all heck breaking loose. They will need some wheels, preferably armored, so Somerville bribes Gyp and Bill, a slightly incestuous couple, who could have stepped out of a Mad Max movie. They need guns too, so they will indulge in a shopping spree with a couple of arms-dealing hicks, who would be at home in a dystopian Tremors movie. All the while, Abbess slowly reveals nuggets of Sy’s backstory through flashbacks.

Strangely enough, Osiris shares many similar plot points with Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars, but it has the more cartoony narrative. Plus, there are long unnecessary flashbacks to Warden Mourdain acting like a sinister jerk, just to give Temuera Morrison a chance to chew some scenery, which is as good reason as any. Frankly, the special effects look pretty impressive, but there is nothing uniquely distinctive to this world we haven’t seen before.

Still, fans will find Daniel MacPherson’s Kane a refreshingly hardnosed and manly protagonist. The hard-drinking bad dad is definitely not a vegan Social Justice Warrior. Kellan Lutz also broods decently as Sy. Frustratingly, the film completely wastes up-and-coming action star Grace Huang, as Sy’s head nurse. However, Rachel Griffiths nicely counterbalances the fiery Morrison with the coolly calculating villainy of General Lynex, a character very much like Sky Marshal Amy Snapp in Traitor of Mars.

Osiris has its nutty pleasures, but it never fully achieves lift-off. Given the former title, Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child, it was obviously intended as the launch of a franchise, but it is highly unlikely go too far past volume one. It will be a distracting enough film to stream when it hits Netflix or Shudder, which will probably happen soon, but there is no need to make any great effort to see it in theaters when it opens this Friday (10/6) in New York, at the Cinema Village.

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