Life gets tough sometimes….
Life is the story of two men played by Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence who are given life sentences to jail after being falsely accused of murder. Oh wait…this isn’t that movie? Well, I apologize for the misunderstanding. This is a new Life apparently, which has nothing to do with the previously mentioned movie. Let’s try this again. Life is the story of a crew of astronauts orbiting Earth in a spaceship for the purpose of studying rocks from Mars. The crew risks protocol to retrieve one last rock onto their ship which leads them to the ultimate discovery. This rock has a dormant single cell life form on it, the first of its kind to not be from Earth. Obviously, they must study it. Poking and prodding this creature doesn’t seem like the safest idea, but scientists are going to science and that’s what happens here. Before you know it, this creature is responsive, angry and looking to satisfy its hunger. Growing in size with each kill, the crew finds themselves in a fight against this seemingly intelligent being before it takes their lives.
That’s a familiar sounding plot for sure. There’s major resonance of the movie Alien in what was just described. Also, mixed in here and there are parts of Gravity and some Thing as well. A nice little blend of some quality movies (by most people’s consensus, I have my issues with Gravity but that’s for another time) right here. Something must be said for familiar notes which people love and want to see again, even if it is a regurgitation of previous ideas. What Life does well is that it takes the best concepts of these other movies and serves them up once more. It is hard not to like something which you liked before even if it is a knockoff imitation.
Does that mean that Life doesn’t have any unique qualities? Hard to say, but it feels slightly different in a way that’s hard to pinpoint. Life does many things well. Its main goal is to be suspenseful and frightening, which it accomplishes here. Being in isolation in space always seems to be an intense atmosphere which carries over to the tension the audience feels. The creature CGI rendering is done competently. It is very creepy, from its beginning stages when its small, all the way up to when it is a bigger squid like beast. This film boasts quite the cast as well. Ryan Reynolds, strangely enough, brings some seriousness to this film. Rebecca Ferguson is great. Perhaps the biggest name, Jake Gyllenhaal, is strangely understated but not necessarily because of his performance. Rather, it has more to do with the scripting. We are also treated to strong supporting performances by Hiroyoki Sanada, newcomer, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya. As the film progresses, the pacing and directing of the film keeps you on the edge of your seat. Visually, it is very impressive as the sights of Earth combined with the spaceships are just beautiful.
This is a predictable film no question. It is a science based horror creature film that has twists and turns that most of us will expect. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. You have to take points away for lack of originality. Other than that, the stuff that works well in this world is usually copied and emulated by many. Sometimes it’s done well, sometimes it’s not. It’s done well here. Is this an homage or a blatant ripoff? A little of both. But who cares that much? If you’re looking for a good dose of science fiction thriller before some heavy hitters like Alien: Covenant or Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 come out, this one is for you.