If you’re looking for an escape from the massive scale summer sci-fi blockbusters like Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, and Transformers: Age of Extinction, you should definitely check out Mick Cahill’s I Origins. Fox Searchlight released the film this weekend in a limited number of theaters, though it will expand next week (we’ll have a review up eventually, but we’re still embargoed). While it is, on the surface, it’s own original property, as it turns out, I Origins is actually a prequel to a script that Cahill sold to the studio a few years back. After you read the full story, you’ll understand the title a little bit more, even though it still isn’t fantastic.
I Origins is a character driven story of science versus faith. While I was initially afraid it was going to be one of those tales that some esoteric unknowable spiritual mumbo jumbo would trump any actual science (someone who saw the trailer told me it looks like a science fiction movie for people who don’t like science), the film actually strikes a solid balance.
The movie follows Dr. Ian Grey (Michael Pitt), a biologist with a special interest in the evolution of the human eye. A hard scientist, he meets a free-spirited woman who changes his perspective and gives him a new outlook on the world. It ends in a satisfactory manner, but you can’t help but think there is more, and as Cahill recently revealed, there is. Talking to Slashfilm, he said:
[The end credits tease] is a whole ‘nother movie that I wannamake. And it’s called I. This is I Origins. This it has a, this has such an unusual title, right? And a lot of people are like are literally like this is grammatically confusing. It’s like what the hell is going on there? And the thing about me is I’m so literal when it comes to titles. Another Earth is about another Earth. Boxers and the Ballerina is about boxer and a ballerina. I Origins is the origin story for I. And I is another movie that I wrote and sold to Fox Searchlight when Another Earth came out. It takes place 20 years in the future. It’s basically the coda is the beginning of that film. We didn’t make it. We were developing it and I couldn’t crack it. There were some aspects of the story that was just, I just couldn’t crack it yet. And so before going engaging in like making a movie that was gonna be really like not so good. Not to say that this one is. This one just, you know, modest little movie or whatever. It’s our tiny little baby. But I was so eager to make something and I had this rich backstory for I. So we made Origins first. As a very small like super low budget movie for a million bucks.
Though Fox Searchlight owns the rights to I, Cahill got the go ahead to make I Origins independently and sell it at Sundance, where it premiered earlier this year. Eventually the studio picked up the distribution rights to the film—you have to assume that there was some kind of first look deal in place to allow this to happen.
It will be interesting to see if I ever actually materializes. I Origins is a wonderful movie—though the trailers haven’t sold it very well—but it isn’t one that anyone really expects to light up the box office. Given that, who knows if there will be enough support and momentum for a follow up. Still, this is an independent film we’re talking about—like Cahill says, it cost a million dollars, nothing as far as a movie budget goes—so it’s possible, if he really want to make this happen, that it could. Cahill will have to be the driving force behind that, but it could happen.
Even though the promotion has been less than stellar, I Origins is definitely a movie that it worth checking out, especially if you’re looking for something different, more ideas than spectacle.