I caught the Osiris Child at a preview screening in Sydney, with director Shane Abbess and cast members Isabel Lucas, Kellan Lutz and Luke Ford all present to take questions after the film. I knew nothing about the film except that it was a low budget Australian science fiction film. I also knew Kellan Lutz was starring, and all I knew him from was the totally woeful (and totally hilarious) Legend of Hercules. And I was happy to find that The Osiris Child is a great little sci fi flick.
What's really quite inspirational about the film is how ambitious it is. Normally low budget sci fi fare is one of three things - it is overly earnest but can't stand on its own two feet due to obviously poor production values that suspend all belief (Skyline), it embraces its poor production values by making a tongue-in-cheek mockery of it all (everything by The Asylum) or it utilises its low budget by making a film of ideas rather than spectacle (The Man from Earth, Coherence or Primer.) This is why The Osiris Child is so impressive. It's not trying to be something small, it's reaching for the skies. The plot is just as sprawling as anything from Star Wars or Star Trek, as are the large scale action set pieces. And, god knows how, but Shane Abbess has made something that feels almost as expensive and impressively mounted as a 150 million dollar studio space opera. There's meticulous production design and detail that goes a long way in convincing you of the tactility of this future world. There's great costuming and location work, as well as menacing practical effects. There's even terrific VFX, made most apparent in a breathtaking dogfight sequence that is as thrilling and heart racing as anything in a major Hollywood production. Hollywood, look this way, Shane Abbess can make your insane blockbusters on a tiny budget and have them look and feel every bit as spectacular as you want.
Aside from the sound and fury of the piece, the story is pretty engaging and multilayered, packed into a mightily efficient sub 100 minute run time that feels like 2 hours + (that's a good thing). It's also told in non linear "chapter" format, which sometimes feels arbitrary, but adds a lot of narrative surprise at times, especially for Lutz's character. Which brings me to Lutz - I've seldom experienced a greater 360 in terms of my perception of an actor's ability. After witnessing the atrocity of The Legend of Hercules, and Lutz's equally atrocious attempt at a British accent, I had written this muscular man off as a Taylor Lautner-style, inept-at-acting hunk. I was evidently wrong - Lutz is really terrific in this movie in a difficult role. He balances toughness and vulnerability well and for me was the most impressive performance. His back story was the least conventional and consequently the most compelling. Daniel macPherson, probably the protagonist if you'd have to assign that label to someone, was solid, if unremarkable: that being said, his character was the most vanilla out of all. Isabel Lucas and Luke Ford have great fun as a rambunctious redneck couple, as does Temeura Morrison as a vicious warden.
It's a bit disappointing that Abbess felt the need to Americanise the entire film, much like the similarly Australian (and balls-out incredible) Predestination. Lutz is the only American actor, and only Morrison keeps his native (Kiwi) accent. It feels unnecessary that this world has to be American, much like how Ancient Rome and Greece always seem to be British, it's a weird convention of science fiction that left me a bit cold. This is a nitpick really, though; there's rarely a moment where root accents are perceivable, even from pint sized Teegan Croft. But this sadly is not the only pitfall the flick faces. A big issue is overwrought narration, which rung alarm bells at the start of the film. Thankfully it's not consistent across the film's run time, but most of the time it happens, it's hackneyed and laboured, and feels like dumbing down, especially at the end of the film. In addition, the film feels the need to occasionally go really sappy. Some moments are genuinely emotional because they're subtle, but there are instances when Abbess can't resist but lay on the treacle, mostly concerning the relationship between MacPherson and Croft, and it's frustratingly clichéd and sentimental.
Even with a few missteps, The Osiris Child is an ingenious, thrill-packed blast of a science fiction film that thrillingly forgoes its low budget to deliver a space opera that's just as thrilling, and perhaps a bit more original, than the glut of far more expensive Hollywood fare.
Review by sossevarvo from the Internet Movie Database.