Whether it’s in the order on the poster (The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One) or the one that opens the film (Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child) you have to admit that is one hell of a title for a film.

Unfortunately it’s one that the film hasn’t a hope of living up to.

You have to wonder why on Earth any filmmakers would lumber their movie with such a preposterous title? Is it an act of monumental hubris, disregarding decades of classic science fiction movies, or possibly naiveté. Considering that director/co-writer Shane Abbess’s previous film, Infini, was also a sci-fi thriller (which also starred leading man Daniel MacPherson) it’s hard to believe it’s the latter.

It’s a misstep that’s compounded when the film actually begins and you see the first of the preposterous chapter headings that divide up the film.  With subtitles like “The State of Indiana”, “Original Sin” and “Year One”, these hint at a story of much greater importance and weight than the one eventually told here.

Best Dad in the quadrant!

Failed husband, and failing father, Lt. Kane Sommerville (Daniel MacPherson) goes rogue when he learns that Exor the military-like colonisation organisation he is part of, is going to sterilize the planet below its flotilla in order to contain a prison break. He doesn’t care much for the prisoners,  who are bascially slave labour, but he’s got to make his way to the capital city, Osiris to rescue his child, Indi, before the clock runs out (groan).

There’s slightly more to the prison break story involving a conspiracy and some nasty creatures that look a bit like human-sized Gamera clones getting loose but this is a pretty straightforward rescue mission that only complicates things by taking pointless diversions into the past of on e of the men Kane runs into Sy, played by Kellan Lutz’s who you may remembered played Emmett Cullen in the Twilight films.

Wait, is he the Osiris Child?

Whether intended as the first volume in a series about the titular Osiris Child or the first instalment in some sort of Science Fiction anthology, the Science Fiction part of the title is, at earned at least, as the filmmakers try to cram as many sci-fi tropes as they can into the relatively short 95 minutes running time.  Very obviously evil corporations/military organisations committing horrendous crimes, genetic experimentation gone amok, prisoners shipped to off world colonies and space rednecks all put in an appearance. At times there’s even hints of James Horner’s score for Aliens on the soundtrack.

It all lends the film a curiously old fashioned feel, like the sci-fi B-movies of the 90’s and early 2000’s.  While watching, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Fortress starring Christopher Lambert from 1992, and in case you don’t know that’s not really a good thing.

The film that The Osiris Child really feels like it’s trying its hardest to emulate, however, is Pitch Black, the 2000 film that gave the world both Richard B. Riddick & Vin Diesel. Unfortunately The Osiris Child hasn’t caught on to the fact that the world has moved on in the last 17 years and you can’t catch lightning in a bottle twice (just ask Vin Diesel and David Twohy!).

As well as Vin Diesel’s performance, Pitch Black succeeded by turning its small scale and Australian locations and extras into a strength, along with its pretty unique monster and set up.

In comparison The Osiris Child feels spread too thin.

The story spends too long filling in useless background material before beginning the main story and then constantly diverts to tell you more mostly useless background information. This approach builds up some characters, well, just one in particular, but leaves the rest of the main cast struggling.  The Osiris Child herself is barely present and you never really get a handle on who MacPherson’s Kane is or why we should care. All the character’s might have been better served if their tragic pasts were revealed through their actions and interactions with each other rather than side stories.

Isabel Lucas (Transformers Revenge of the Fallen, Home and Away), Luke Ford (Cleverman) and many of the prison inmates come across as far more interesting than the main cast but that’s primarily due to the over the top nature of their characters.

It’s a pity because The Osiris Child does excel when it comes to world building and effects. The design of the future technology, especially some very cool fighters with move-able wings, the set design and costuming all come across really well. The mostly Australian cast all seem to be covered in a thick layer of dirt which really sells the harshness of this world. Even the creature effects which all appear to be done physically, are pretty effective.

I’ve not seen Infini so it’s difficult to say whether director Shane Abbess is one to watch, but the quality production design of The Osiris Child, applied to a tighter, more original story, with a less ludicrous title could prove a winner.