REVIEW: YouTube Sci-Fi Series ‘Origin’ Debuts, Starring Natalia Tena & Tom Felton

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Nov 15, 2018

Posted by: Emma Pocock

Felton, HP Cast, News, Opinion, Review, Tena

New Sci-Fi Thriller series, Origin, made its debut on YouTube Premium today, starring Harry Potter‘s Natalia Tena (Tonks) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy):

In the first episode, we’re introduced to Shun (Sen Mitsuji) who finds himself unexpectedly woken up in deep space on a Origin, a transport ship, naked, disoriented and afraid, with no knowledge of why he’s awake so far from their destination planet. Finding that he’s not alone, and accompanied by Natalia Tena’s character, Lana, a bodyguard in her ‘Earth life’,  and a crew of other passengers (including Tom Felton’s character, Logan), he begins to realise that something has gone horribly wrong.

Going back in time to before the launch of the ship, we see how each of the characters  got to be on Origin, with flashbacks to a futuristic Earth focusing on a different character each episode, where there are even smarter smart watches, even fancier Teslas, virtual reality holographic Skype calls and projects to send people to new planets. We learn that a company called Siren Corporation has set up The Thea Project – a mission to colonise the planet Thea, and the passengers on board Origin were on their way there until something put a “we’re doomed” sized hole in the ship. They’ve been abandoned by the ship’s crew, and they’re slowly falling victim to a gruesome, body-snatching alien parasite.

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The series calls upon motifs from familiar Sci-Fi classics Blade Runner and Alien, in particular, and also pays homage to Lost in its flashbacks and character-driven plot twists, and even calls upon ideas from Passengers. Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson doesn’t waste time in demonstrating that the huge cast means characters are disposable. Not even 15 minutes into the first episode, we see characters suffering from the side effects of cryo-sleep, which is just the beginning of their nightmare on Origin, and a death 20 minutes into the series. The flashbacks assume we know the well-worn Sci-Fi motif that a mission to colonise another planet is the job of ‘dodgy’ corporations, and paints central characters as equally morally dubious.

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Natalia Tena’s Lana is the star of the show, for sure, as she overtakes the rest of her passengers in clocking the situation and revealing the most interesting backstory of all the characters. Every word Tom Felton’s inexplicably snarky character says in the first episode attempts to prevent other characters from progressing, and he argues with Lana at every opportunity. Thankfully, Natalia Tena is given another strong-willed female character to play, and she fully takes charge in leading the passengers aboard Origin to answers.

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The series starts too-big-too-fast, and it’s hard to keep track of the ensemble cast, but as the series progresses, we’re given bigger stakes and cliffhangers which thoroughly encourage binge-watching, and though the pilot episode spends a lot of time on Shun, it moves quickly into the body horror in this series, which everybody’s already heard plenty about. Special effects wizard Max Poolman (District 9) makes sure you’ll look away from the screen at least once, and each actor conveys their character’s terror convincingly enough that you might want to watch with the lights on. The tropes are almost too much, though, the jump scares explained by characters rushing around corners even start to annoy Tom Felton’s character at one point, meaning he gets one of the best lines to say in the series.

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Writer Mika Watkins sets up the mystery of the ship well, however, playing with your doubts about certain characters, setting up the idea of an inhuman imposter, and slowly teasing the idea of something horrific on the loose.

“Structurally it’s similar to ‘Lost.’ And kind of like a film franchise as far as what’s going on on the ship,” Felton told The Wrap. “But essentially its about 10 passengers who have been sent to another planet, who volunteered to be programmed and are waking up prematurely, not on the planet, but still stuck inside and abandoned by all other passengers and crew.”

The fact that this is on YouTube premium may put off viewers, but you could always take advantage of the platform’s 30 day free trial! It’s a strong start for YouTube’s new streaming service, and – especially for fans of Natalia Tena and Tom Felton – it’s pretty essential viewing. Tena is superb as Lana, and – without giving anything away – works brilliantly opposite co-star Felton, who’s given an angry, reactive character with a secret to hide. Felton told The Wrap that he believes deep down, his foul-mouthed character is actually ‘a sweetheart’, and he’s given plenty of screen time to demonstrate as much:

“I think he’s given up really on humans and relationships and any sort of real love,” Felton says. “And you don’t know why yet, but his backstory will reveal that. And you’ll see he has very little faith in humans at all. I think he’s leaving behind a pretty s—-y life back at home. And this is his last attempt to try and find a new start, really. To find a start because he can. He has a foul mouth. He’s very clever. But he’s a sweetheart. Deep down he’s a sweetheart.”

Overall, it’s a well-paced series, with a diverse cast, rich story, and utterly convincing thrills. The 10-part series is available from today, November 14th, on YouTube Premium. #LeaveEarth, and watch the first two episodes for free, below:





The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.