Friday, March 24, 2017


Life is the exact opposite of Kong: Skull Island. Whereas Kong knew exactly what it was and embraced it, Life is a pretentious wannabe that flails around for far too long before ultimately turning into a cliche and running out of gas long before the credits roll.

Wanting desperately to be a genre-shaking art film which takes the science seriously and has something to say about extraterrestrial life, like the original Alien, instead director Daniel Espinosa's (Safe House) movie is a plodding, somber affair with nothing we haven't seen multiple times before. Very early on, I lost track of number of extended sequences showing off the film's art design set to ominous classical music. I get it, you guys liked 2001: A Space Odyssey. Unfortunately this isn't the kind of movie you are making here.

Life is a bottle-show monster flick with a small group of people trapped with a creature they can't understand let alone defeat. By the time Life gets around to throwing the pretension of actual science out the window and becomes a monster movie there's little the latest tentacle monster can offer in way of surprise, let alone general horror.

Set aboard a space station orbiting Earth where scientists (Rebecca Ferguson, Olga Dihovichnaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ariyon Bakare, Ryan Reynolds, and Hiroyuki Sanada) are examining biological samples collected from Mars, the script has more than a few plot issues. Discovering life, the scientists begin to monitor and experiment on the organism which (to no one's surprise other than the people aboard the station) becomes dangerous.

In the course of fighting the creature, much damage is done to the station, but somehow all of it is superficial. Our trained astronauts also take some pretty dumb moves which, of course, lead to the creature being able to continue to threaten them over the course of the film. If the station had a dark alley or abandoned summer camp, you can bet each of these characters would find a way to wander into it alone. The astronauts also block off oxygen in segments of the station, but when they need to travel around they don't have trouble breathing. And, in the film's final plot hole, the decision making at the end of the film doesn't at all fall in line with that the preceding hour-plus and events for no other reason than because screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick want to do something "cool."

Life isn't awful. It's just... meh. Yes, the evolving creature gets some jump scares, but none of it leads anywhere interesting. It's boilerplate horror tropes dressed up as something more. Only Ryan Reynolds acknowledges the kind of movie he's been cast in and has some fun along the way. The film joins a growing list of sci-fi underachievers (Interstellar, Divergent, Lucy, The Space Between Us, Transcendence, Jupiter Ascending) that don't need to be belittled, but are better off forgotten.

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