(On Cable TV, July 2015) Aaaargh: So much potential, so close to being exceptional. At a time when science-fiction films are far more about spectacle than actual exploration of scientific issues, it’s refreshing to find a film that, at least, tries to grapple with a world-changing premise in a relatively realistic way. There are times where I Origin’s low-key approach is a delightful change of pace, and if the movie could have sustained that tone, then we’d be looking at a far more interesting result. But a good chunk of the film is either too silly or too obviously manipulated by writer/director Mike Cahill to inspire full admiration. I’ll let much of the initial setup pass, as a young impetuous scientist meets a striking young woman and then reconnects with her through an amazing chain of coincidences. If the film wants to start foreshadowing destiny-related themes, that’s fine. The first of the film’s problems comes at the end of that sequence, though, with a scene so gruesomely morbid as to create more incredulous laughter than sadness. After that, the films plod quite a bit – the protagonist is so obviously arrogant that it’s a given for his atheistic convictions to be shaken as the film goes on. And so I Origins tips its hand very early, making the rest of the film feel like an often-tedious exercise is going exactly where we think it’s going to go. I recall more or less the same core idea developed far more engagingly in Science-Fiction short stories. Here, there’s no sense of discovery as much as long series of confirmations of what we already suspect: it doesn’t help that the film more slowly enough for viewers to race past it. I still like much of the film’s layered thematic symbolism, its willingness to occasionally nod toward real science and a refreshingly low-key approach. But it’s not very well-served by a fairly dull premise that seems to be holding back on more interesting extrapolations. Wikipedia says that I Origins serves as a prequel to another film, but frankly I’d be more interested in seeing I than meandering in its prequel.