By: Movie Snurb (Three Beers) –
The crew of the ISS is assigned to intercepting a rocket carrying samples from Mars. However, we don’t find out until later that the mission was to study the life form that is discovered on Mars. When they bring the organism on the ISS they begin to study it and as you’d expect their studies and experiments backfire and the organism comes alive. Now it’s a fight between man and alien, and the crew’s goal is to not let the ISS come crashing to Earth with the organism on board and unleash this hell upon the human race. The film’s big stars are Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson. The whole cast does a terrific job in this film, no one is phoning it in.
At first view it appears that Life is just another Alien rip-off. However, the beginning scene lets us know that there is going to be more to this film than a basic paint by numbers sci-fi horror film. The opening shot is a brilliant long take tracking shot throughout the ISS, introducing its crew and what their mission is. One cool thing is Life isn’t a rip-off, you can tell when and where they drew inspiration. That opening shot was made possible by the revolutionary Gravity. That is the gold standard of long takes in space, but Life does a brilliant job with its opening shot.
Not only is the cinematography great, but the visual effects are what keep this from being just another paint by numbers horror/space film. I won’t give away which character it is, but the visual effects when the first character dies are outstanding. The alien goes into the character’s mouth and eats them from the inside out. It’s both stunningly cool, and terrifying at the same time. I appreciate that they wanted to put some effort in the effects and camerawork department. It adds an element to a film which could’ve fallen flat without it.
Once this film gets into the alien killing people the film puts its foot on the gas and doesn’t let up till the end. With the blistering pace the film is able to keep the tension very high through to the end of the film. Life at times is genuinely terrifying, and it’s the ability to keep the tension so high that makes it scary.
It’s unfortunate to use this as a knock on the movie; however, after watching the film I couldn’t help but think “yeah, it was good, but Alien did it first.” No film will be able to do Sci-Fi horror like Ridley Scott did with Alien. Though Life is a fun ride, you still be thinking “I’ve seen this before.”
Anyone else excited for Alien: Covenant?
I had a few problems with the alien in this film. First, when “Calvin” (which was the name given to the alien organism) got big enough, he had a head and face. I thought this took away from the frightening factor. I think Calvin was much scarier when he had no face and he was this faceless organism killing people. There was a larger creepy factor when it was just an organism terrorizing the crew. The face made him a little cartoonish.
Also they didn’t explain anything about Calvin by way of his evolution. Ryan Reynolds burns Calvin with a flamethrower and it seems to not phase him. It almost appears that he either feeds from the oxygen and becomes stronger, or he’s channeling the energy from the fire. The oxygen seems to make more sense once you get into the film, however the audience is left to decide for themselves. I think there could’ve been five minutes total designated to telling the audience, from a scientist, what is happening to Calvin.
Though you may feel like you’ve seen this film before, there is a lot to enjoy about Life. Life is absolutely worth your time. If you’re looking for a fun time at the movies, I’d recommend you go see this film. Though I enjoyed Kong: Skull Island, if you’re looking for a fun action film, I’d say go see this instead.
Life (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time someone says “firewall”.
Take a Drink: every time people start yelling at each other.
Do a Shot: every time someone dies.
Do a Shot: whenever we see from Calvin’s view point.