This review is kind of late, but I wanted to spend money on something that wasn’t Ghost in the Shell. So here we are with a Life review.
Life is Alien (1979) on a diet. It’s frustrating because rather than create something semi-original, the film has no shame in taking nearly every single plot point from the Alien franchise and recycling it with a new cast of characters. Life is still an entertaining film, but it doesn’t have anything distinctive that would make potential audiences shell out $10.00 or more at the theater.
Upon a successful recovery of a probe returning from Mars, the International Space Station (ISS) crew is enthralled to recover a dust sample from the red planet. This specimen shocks the team as it contains an organism that provides the proof of life on Mars. The ISS crew includes a team of scientists and doctors including David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson) and Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds). Each has their specific duties to carry out to make sure there is adherence to safety protocols, the space station is in working order, and the crew members are healthy.
The Martian organism named “Calvin” begins to evolve beyond anyone’s expectations. It doesn’t appear malicious at first and is quite cute. When Calvin goes limp and doctors try to revive it, they unleash a monster hell-bent on survival and their elimination. As the various people aboard engage in a battle of survival against this newfound threat, they find that Calvin proves smarter than the crew itself. One thing is for certain: the creature must not make its way to Earth. The ISS crew soon runs out of members and options and may have to sacrifice their lives for the safety of the planet.
What starts out as an exhilarating space horror ends in disappointment. Life is a decent movie but underutilizes its character’s talents. For a crew of scientists and astronauts, the characters of Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, and Rebecca Ferguson commit crimes against logic. They continually do things that put them in harm’s way, have no sense of urgency, and are selfish. When compared to the cast of Alien, the ISS team isn’t well-textured, developed, or likable. Then again, nothing could duplicate the sheer power and success of Ridley Scott’s space masterpiece
But they tried, though.
From the look and diverse makeup of the crew to the face-hugger type design of Calvin, the plot moves almost scene for scene to the first Alien film. The only aspect that will differentiate the two movies is the ending. If you gravitate toward this type of material, Life will likely hold up for you. While it’s no Alien nor has the originality of Event Horizon nor important themes of Sunshine, it has some exciting moments and beautiful cinematography by Seamus McGarvey, but not enough to spend $15.00 on a movie ticket in NYC.
** out of *****