MOVIE OF THE WEEK #2 (3/24/17): LIFE

"Girl we can swim in the air – this is dope, right? RIGHT?!" David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson) float aboard the International Space Station in a scene from Daniel Espinosa's sci-fi thriller LIFE. Credit: Sony Pictures © 2016 CTMG, Inc. All rights reserved.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya

WRITER(S): Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick

DIRECTOR(S): Daniel Espinosa 


HERE'S THE STORY: A group of scientists and astronauts – including David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson) and Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds) – aboard the International Space Station are overjoyed when they bring back a species from Mars that proves the existence of life beyond Earth. But once they begin to do their research on the specimen, they quickly discover the reason there may be no more life on the red planet and why Earth could soon meet a similar fate unless they stop it. 

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Diehard sci-fi fans; people who don't see endings of movies coming too easily; people who enjoy well-done B-movies; 

WHO WON'T (OR SHOULDN'T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Diehard Ryan Reynolds fans; people who find too many movies to be rip-offs (or at the very least, derivative) of the Alien franchise; those afraid that one day the things we see in sci-fi movies will come true in real life. 

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? A film that will (fairly) draw many comparisons to the Alien franchise (especially with this summer's pending release of Alien: Covenant, Life is a well done b-movie that wants to think it's a A movie but will leave you happy it's not just an average effort. 

Here are the positives that Life has going for it: Some really cool, intense death scenes, a large, well-I-don't-know-if-it-is-right-but-that-sounds-right flow of dialogue, characters that attempt to do things that actually make sense in the situation instead of seeming idiotic, a pretty decent Twilight Zone-style ending even though you should see it coming and the most ominous horn selection this side of a Portishead/Wu-Tang Clan collaboration. Here are the negatives that are going against Life: a fairly predictable storyline, some common sci-fi tropes (no need to discuss them here; you're smart enough to figure them out with all the foreshadowing) and characters that – save for Hiroyuki Sanada performance as Sho Kendo – you don't so much care about as much as you do the story itself. That's not to the fault of the actors, per se; it's just that there's no real development given to them save for perhaps 1-2 lines that explain their actions more than give you any real emotional connection to their characters. 

Throw in moments where the alien in question turns into a Jason Vorhees like creature despite the rationale of Ariyon Bakar's character that Calvin (the nickname given to the alien in the movie) that "he doesn't hate us; he just has to kill us" and you'll understand that where some things are really cool, there's not enough of them to overcome moments like those. Then again, Calvin rips off remixes one of the Alien creature's most famous death moves and the familiar feeling you've seen this before is unescapable. 

That's really all you need to know about Life, which is an entertaining B-movie style flick. It's two big name stars do their jobs effectively enough, but the drama involving the story is what you are watching because it's interesting enough to keep you invested but not because it's anything you haven't kind of seen before. 

Luckily, it's done well enough to make you not mind seeing it again even if you're not sure you have already.



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