Origin Wars Blu-ray Review
AKA The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One
Movies reviewSRP: £9.99
This low budget sci-fi chronicle crafts an interesting new universe but is weighed down by Kellan Lutz and garbage-blob monster villains.Origin Wars is split into chapters and the non-linear storytelling gimmick largely works for the piece, as we get to know a bunch of disparate characters and where they've come from, after we've seen them thrown together to form a motley, unlikely band of survivors desperate to avoid total annihilation on a world doomed by a corporation's dodgy experiments. Some of these strands work. Indeed the initial arc involving Daniel MacPherson's pilot trying to get topside to save his young daughter is a tense affair, with a spectacular aerial dogfight that transcends the otherwise limited effects and action that the film offers. There are hints of everything from Oblivion to Stealth to Firefox in here, but once he hits the dirt we meet Kellan Lutz (who really should change his name to Klutz), an escaped prisoner who reluctantly agrees to help the rogue pilot on his desperate quest. And everything goes downhill fast.The prison flashbacks are reasonable enough, very Fortress in feel, but the reveal of the weird monsters made from the experiments is just abysmal. The filmmakers really needed to consult the Resident Evil crew (games not movies) to get a handle on bloody, sinewy, hulking flesh-beasts, because these creatures just look like lumps of piled-high excrement covered in leaves. So otherwise tense sequences where various characters have to contend with the beasts are largely devoid of interest because the CG and practical effects just pull you out. Casting is also all over the shop - MacPherson, who was in The Shannara Chronicles, is a much more interesting actor and, despite having an equally important role (with all the twists centering on him), Lutz plods along with a bad haircut and a gormless look. There's half a movie of involving nice sci-fi ideas here, and another half that simply can't make good on them.
Picture QualityLionsgate's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of Origins Wars delivers the movie complete with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. For the most part, Origin Wars' visual aesthetic belies its limited budget and delivers a fairly strong presentation. Certainly the earlier sequences fare better, with the aerial and cloud-based space stations and dogfights rendered in a fairly impressive fashion, even if the blend of CG and real-world action on the ground is harder to appreciate.
For the most part, Origin Wars' visual aesthetic belies its limited budget and delivers a fairly strong presentation
Detail is strong, again faltering perhaps only when attempting to mix in the limited CG, but that's pretty acceptable - and pretty standard - and seldom comes close to pulling you out of the picture. Close-ups and texturing offer everything we've come to expect from a digital shoot, and there are few problematic moments with only the deepest shadows dipping into the realms of crush. The colour scheme skews cold for the space-based fare and then amber for the ground-based stuff - again, it's a pretty standard look, attempting to blend Star Wars with Mad Max (as it says on the cover), even if this is only really apparent in terms of tint choices. Overall it's a solid presentation.
Sound QualityThe aural component is similarly engaging, again not really breaking the mold, but still delivering what we've come to expect from a halfway decent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, providing dialogue, score and effects with equal balance and regard.
It's seldom got the kind of precision you'd expect from a top tier title, but it's still got a fair amount of heft
The film is peppered with strong effects-based sequences that do challenge the sound design and bring the array into full use, with the dogfight a highlight here too, but also the prison riot, and the assault on the hut in the middle of the field, not to mention the final act, which perforates your living room with blaster fire. It's seldom got the kind of precision you'd expect from a top tier title, but it's still got a fair amount of heft, dragging the LFE into the fray and providing a reasonable immersive experience. The score remains quite a strong and effective element for the first half, but it's second half devolves into beats that all-but plagiarise the military percussion on Aliens. Nevertheless it only gives the array more fuel for the fire.
ExtrasNothing but a Q&A Interview piece with Writer/Director Shane Abbess who talks about the challenges of bringing the broad-scope world of Origin Wars to life, and revels in the wonders he worked in terms of effects and action, as well as his 'extraordinary' cast.
Blu-ray VerdictThere's half a movie of interesting sci-fi ideas here, and another half that simply can't make good on them
Lionsgate's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of Origin Wars does a solid job with this limited release sci-fi actioner, providing strong video and audio and at least a little input from the director in terms of extras, making it a solid package for fans.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £9.99
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