‘Life’ has grossed over $22 million since it’s initial release. (Photo courtesy of Colombia Pictures)
On the International Space Station, a six-man crew receives a probe from Mars that contains a cell that belongs to extraterrestrial life. As the cell grows into a sophisticated alien creature, it manages to escape its holding cell and wreak havoc amongst the station. The six-man crew is forced to try and stop it as it begins to pick them off one by one.
There needs to be a paragraph here that has information about what this story is going to be about. We don’t find out what movie is even being reviewed until the end, and then we still don’t know when it came out or much else about it.
Two things that should be commended are all of the visual aspects and all of the performances. When it comes to the visuals, all of the effects look believable, the creature design is fresh and original and the way shots are executed and the actors move around the set make it look like they are actually floating in space. All of the actors, while lacking in any characteristics to bring to their characters, manage to sell the emotional aspects of their performances.
While the design of the alien species is an original one, the creature itself is one of the movie’s biggest problems because of contradictions between the alien’s actions and what the characters are telling the audience. The alien acts like the xenomorphs from the “Alien” franchise, being space creatures that kill hapless space explorers with almost no rhyme or reason to it.
The characters, however, call the alien intelligent, suggesting that it is like the Borg from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and has an ultimate goal it is working towards. It is a weird mixture of the two where its goal seems to be to kill all of the astronauts, but what comes after that?
The first 20 minutes of the movie is promising, but quickly deteriorates into a lackluster, uninspired and boring version of “Alien.” In the first 20 minutes, there is a little about the alien, a little about a few of the characters and a creative means of delivering exposition. After that, it turns into a run-of-the-mill monster movie, except none of the characters the audience is supposed to care about have been fleshed out.
Jake Gyllenhaal has a small character moment at one point, the Japanese astronaut (Hiroyuki Sanada) is given a wife and newborn baby as props, and there was some extremely mild personality given to a couple of the other characters, but nothing to where one will care about these characters’ well-beings. Since this story is nothing new, the only thing the movie really has to offer are engaging characters, and not a single one is worth getting invested in.
Each act of the movie feels like it was written by a different person because of the ideas that are used. The first act is fairly good. The second act is what happened in the movie “Alien,” only more lackluster. The third act deteriorates into a joke. When it comes to the ending, it goes with the worst possible ending it could go with, and then hard cuts from a story about six people dying horrible deaths in space to the credits with Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” playing over the credits, which does not tonally fit.
“Life” is essentially an attempt to recreate popular science fiction and horror movies like “Alien” and “Gravity,” but without managing to capture what made those movies work for people.
Final Grade: C