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‘Unknown Origins’: Cool Concept, Poor Execution

Unknown Origins promises a cool spin on superheroes and serial killers, but ultimately delivers cheap comedy.

Unknown Origins (2020)

4.5 / 5
2.5 / 5

Unknown Origins is a Spanish murder mystery about people getting killed in specific ways — they imitate the origins of famous superheroes.

At first, the movie starts out promising. The deaths are gruesome; one victim has his heart removed and dies in a suit of armor, imitating Iron Man. This seems to show that the film means business. This is going to be a mature and dark film.


While the film still carries other dark elements, it unceremoniously spirals into cringy comedy. The problem mainly lies in one of the characters. We follow a cop named David (Javier Rey) and a comic book store owner named Jorge (Brays Efe). Jorge joins the investigation due to his knowledge on superheroes and partners up with David.

The relationship is your standard cold cop who’s reluctant to have a partner because they’re annoying — and Jorge is annoying and takes away the serious tone that the movie once had. Jorge is your stereotypical geek who wears geeky clothes all the time — he even wears a Star Wars shirt to a funeral. I swore I was watching The Big Bang Theory whenever he appeared. He also spurts out references at any chance he has. At first it’s amusing, but becomes old really fast.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with being a geek (I’m fairly geeky myself), but if they wanted this film to be gritty, they needed to tone down the fanservice and focus more on the investigation. Heck, the film halts several times for Jorge to give David lectures on how being a geek doesn’t make you a loser.

What’s weird is the movie makes the impression that comics are under appreciated, which is ironic considering that the the second highest grossing film ever is Avengers: Endgame, only second to Avatar in box office success. Perhaps if this movie came out years ago, it would’ve made more sense, but given that fantasy/sci-fi franchises have become so mainstream in the past several years, this films ethos leaves a lot of room for criticism.

As far as diversity goes, since it’s a Spanish film with a full Spanish cast. The actors did fine for what they had, but no one blew me away. Sometimes the acting did fall into over-acting, particularly when David discovers that — spoilers but not really since it was obvious— his parents were murdered in the same fashion as Batman’s. He has a whole fit about it, which is supposed to be a serious scene, but I wanted to laugh at how ridiculous it played out.

I admit that it’s cool to see a foreign film revolve around a grounded superhero story, but I wish they made one more intriguing. There was a lot of potential in the concept, but the execution was poor, and I think it’s main problem is Jorge. If he was either toned down or taken out of the story, the film might’ve been better.

Overall, Unknown Origins is a mess. The film doesn’t know if it wants to be a serious murder mystery, or a quirky comedy. Tone is all over the place, the characters are either annoying or bland, and the film delivers an ending that made me cringe. I don’t think this counts as a spoiler, but David dresses up like a superhero to fight the murderer and the choreography and dialogue are horrible. What starts out as a neat idea flips into a disappointing disaster, and I just wouldn’t recommend it.