Life Review: Space Thriller Doesn’t Find its Way

Just like when I saw Gravity, Life is one of those movies that once again proves me right that becoming an astronaut is never going to be a job in my future. Especially if it’s going to involve a living organism trying to kill off your crew.

Astronauts (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds) aboard the International Space Station are on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As members of the crew conduct their research, the rapidly evolving life-form proves far more intelligent and terrifying than anyone could have imagined.

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Crossing the genres of sci-fi and horror can be inventive enough for some people. That could make for some entertainment right there. But the trailers for Life were very underwhelming as it looks like an Alien rip-off. Even the title sounds uninteresting as I thought it was a remake of the Eddie Murphy/Martin Lawrence comedy from 1999. Plus, director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) isn’t really a name that gets me excited anytime he has a new project attached to it. In some way, this is like Alien and John Carpenter’s The Thing combined to make a semi-level sci-fi.

There are some impressive visual effects along with a single take from the beginning and I dug the isolation surrounding space just like other movies that take place in those kinds of settings. This is also a well-acted film with only six actors. The three of the big named actors from Gyllenhaal, Ferguson and Reynolds, and All of them hold their own with their performances. Reynolds does play that wisecracking character he’s known for but was good.

Any moment when it shows its living CGI organism, it keeps me invested as this thing is pretty terrifying. The design feels threating enough to actually make it seem scary. So having that element in the story worked well.

But almost anything that’s not focused on the creature isn’t worth talking about. For the most part, it’s fairly dull and kind of boring even for a short movie. Sometimes it goes from being smart with how to capture the thing, and then it becomes unintelligent for my taste. Nothing was too surprising for an original story.

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None of the characters are well-developed to actually give a crap about them even though they’re there to be killed. But I didn’t really care for Gyllenhaal’s character for a large majority because there wasn’t any sympathy for him to make me latch onto.

And the ending is one of those endings where some people will like it. But I didn’t like it as I thought it was predictable as it took the easy route. 

Also, that whole Venom rumor spreading around when this came out was nonsense.

Overall, Life was trying to be smart, but it isn’t a game changer, of course, as the tension was there but not that memorable. This is a plot that’s been done before that not so different from the rest. It’s definitely something that’s a rental. The film is essentially the poor man’s Alien, in my opinion.

Though Life is suspenseful and tension filled enough, it feels the same as any other space film that’s worth watching.

Grade: C+

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