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Review: Origin Wars – “Great indie sci-fi action”

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A while back I was sent a copy of Origin Wars to review. A low budget indie sci-fi starring Kellan Lutz, Daniel MacPherson, Isabel Lucas, Temuera Morrison, and Teagan Croft. I wasn’t really a fan of Kellan Lutz so I put off watching the film. Knowing I had to review it I eventually put it on and was all ready to scoff and chortle at how bad it was going to be. Yes, I had done that cardinal sin of prejudging a film before watching it. Kind of like judging something by the way it looks. Someone should come up with a phrase to describe that…maybe something to do with books and covers.

Then wouldn’t you know it, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I should have known. Never prejudge as it always makes you look foolish.

First and foremost this is a B movie, but sometimes a B movie is just what you want. Despite a few moments when it takes itself a little too seriously, Origin Wars is lots of fun and rather creative with its low budget.

The film is basically a mash-up of Fortress, The Incredible Hulk, Pulp Fiction, Star Wars meets Mad Max. Lots of influences, but it mixes them all up to bring us a rather splendid slice of sci-fi.

Here is the official synopsis:

Set in the future in a time of interplanetary colonisation, Sy (Kellan Lutz, The Twilight Saga), escapes a brutal prison where mysterious experiments have been taking place under the watch of a savage warden (Temuera Morrison, Star Wars Episodes 2 & 3, Once Were Warriors). After orchestrating an escape, Sy meets Kane (Daniel MacPherson, The Shannara Chronicles), a lieutenant working for an off-world military contractor – EXOR, who have set in motion a plan to wipe out all life from the face of the planet in an attempt to cover up their crimes – when their terrifying “experiments” escape.

Now, the unlikely pair must work together to rescue Kane’s young daughter, Indi (Teagan Croft, Home and Away), and reach safety before it’s too late. Teaming up with a pair of rough-and-ready outlaws, Gyp (Isabel Lucas, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) and Bill (Luke Ford, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), it’s a race against time for the group as they clash with EXOR in an attempt to escape while battling the savage creatures that roam the barren planet.

All good and all rather standard, but watching it there is a lot more going on beneath the surface. We have EXOR doing its best Evil Empire thing and we are teased with a much bigger and stranger universe out there. In flashbacks, we get glimpses of other cities on other planets, but never enough to get a proper handle on them yet you want to learn more.

The main characters go on a journey that takes us through various sci-fi staples – the space station, the prison, the dodgy bar, the Road Warrior landscape and vehicles, the genetically twisted creatures and down into caves and caverns.

It was made on a low budget, but it uses it well. It has pushed the filmmakers to come up with cool ways to give us a shorthand on this particular universe. The interaction with AI at the beginning, the beautiful images of the space station, and things in the prison such as the constantly turning solitary confinement cells. The effects are pretty damn good. There is an amazing dog fight early on that was just fantastic to watch…but then you get the big bad monsters. They’re set up as these unstoppable killing machines and they are….I just wish the creatures weren’t so obviously people in suits. It’s tricky to get right, but they didn’t really work for me. They did remind me of smaller versions of Morla the Ancient One from The Neverending Story!

Another great thing they do to hide the lack of budget is to go all Pulp Fiction and jump back and forth in time. The film is split into chapters and we follow one person, they meet another, they argue, they become friends and head off. The next chapter we jump back in time to see where that other person came from. It carries on like this so we put bits and pieces of dialogue and visual things together to fill in the gaps. A good technique that on the whole does a fine job and is also handy to cover over moments in the story that would have cost a lot to do. Having some of these moments happen off camera could have been a pain, but jumping through time seems to make it easier to swallow.

As for the acting, everyone is totally into it. Isabel Lucas is rather scary and I even enjoyed Kellan Lutz’s performance. His character has a lot of depth to it and you are constantly wondering how he ended up in his opening predicament. Daniel MacPherson is very cool as the father trying everything he can to find his daughter and Temuera Morrison is creepy and tough.

Great characters, some vicious fights and cool effects all wrapped up in a pretty cool quest plot make Origin Wars one to check out. It reminds me of a film you would come across when flicking through the channels back in the day. You’d be wondering what the hell was going on and then you are sucked in and watch the whole thing. Great indie sci-fi action full of explosive action.

Lionsgate UK Releases Origin Wars on Digital Download 17th July and DVD & Blu-ray 24th July, 2017

Origin Wars is known as The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One in other territories.

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