I wish this movie had worked for me on some level, but it didn’t. I had a feeling it wouldn’t too, but I needed to be sure, which is why I wanted to review it. I mean, this should be right up my alley. It’s a horror/scifi flick about an alien loose on a space station, and those flicks, if executed the right way, work well for me. Oh, hell, if executed the wrong way they can still work, hence the term good-bad movie. When news first dropped about this all there was was a title, and the fact it was a science fiction movie. Working on just that I assumed it was something in the vein of Interstellar (2014) or E.T. (1982). Friendly alien movies don’t interest me. It wasn’t until later that I learned it was one of them hostile alien movies. Excellent! Great! I was almost on board, but that title wasn’t bringing me totally to the table. It annoys me when Hollywood re-uses titles. If you’re talking about a movie called, Life, I assume you’re talking about that Eddie Murphy/Martin Lawrence comedy from 1999. And besides “Life” is such a generic title, but I’ll easily be able to overlook that, if the movie delivers. It didn’t, hence me bitching about it right now.
Okay, I’ll tell you the single thing that worked for me, well, the single thing I appreciated, to clarify, and that was how it succeeded in doing an alien-on-the-loose flick in a realistic space environment. Typically these kind of movies are set in the future, where humans are traveling in ships with gravity, they have lasers, or high-tech weapons, or what have you, but Life puts the time frame slightly into the future and I say that because the space station looks slightly more advanced than what’s up there today. There’s no artificial gravity and the spacesuit designs look fairly close to things we could have today, or very soon to be. There are no lasers, no holographic control panels and no one’s wearing a skin type futuristic suit. I dug that. Dug that a lot, which is why it pains me to deliver such a thumbs down review.
Acting was spot on, CGI was damn good, but you know what didn’t really get me and what I think killed this whole thing for me? The alien. These movies, for me, live or die by the monster that’s being showcased. Despite the CGI for the critter being top notch, its design wasn’t as “alien” has I wished it had been. When you get to be my age and you’ve seen a ton of monster movies, it takes a hell of a lot these days to impress me on creature design. This one did not impress. It looked like something you might find in the deep sea, something down deep where we’ve never gone, which again should have gotten me on board. Horrors of the deep can be potent, but I don’t know, I wanted something creepier, something, perhaps, more Lovecraftian, which it kind of is, but for me it wasn’t enough. I’m going to chalk this up to a side-effect of being a fan of H.P. Lovecraft, I guess.
Life is about astronauts on board the ISS (Interstellar Space Station) who have a satellite coming their way that’s been collecting soil samples from Mars. Astronaut (and Deadpool himself), Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds), takes a space walk to see if he can manipulate a robotic arm at just the right time to grab it, otherwise it’ll just pass by and head off into space. Maybe, for the sake of everyone’s lives he should have failed, but he doesn’t, and Exobiologist, Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare), discovers a dormant single cell organism in the samples. Derry is the one to blame for this thing getting out and getting temperamental, if you ask me. Playing around with atmosphere and temperature he finds the right combination to revive it and it starts growing. It’s curious at first with his prodding hand, but Derry is sloppy, a fuck up screws up the atmosphere in the container and it goes into hibernation. Mistake #2 is using electricity to wake it up. You see, in my opinion, this thing took that jolt of electricity as a hostile action and this I what I believe doomed everyone. To it these poking and prodding things are now the enemy. By the time it gets out, it’s about the size of a human fist, but it grows fairly fast feeding on blood and human biology. It’s also deemed to be nothing more than muscle, mind and eye. Yes, it’s becomes clever and it’s strong as fuck!
Jake Gyllenhaal is in this too as Medical Officer, David Jordan, whose been in space longer than anyone. With Gyllenhaal and Reynolds in the same movie it had me wondering which of these dudes is going to end up playing the “hero.” Neither really, since it’s got one hell of a downbeat ending, but Jake turns out to be the closest. Reynold’s buys the farm in the beginning after it gets out, and it slips inside his body and does enough damage to have him coughing up blood in zero gravity, and then it crawls out looking bigger!
There are two chicks in this film, Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), quarantine officer, and Ekaterina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya), Russian commander in charge of the station. Both are appropriately hot and knowledgeable, but both end up regrettably dead by the time the movie is over. The commander drowns in her own suit during a spacewalk looking for the alien; the alien deliberately did that to her, and North’s death (she and Jordan are the two survivors left in the final act) is part of the downbeat ending, which I’ll refrain from mentioning. A rarity for me, keeping a spoiler unspoiled, I mean. Don’t worry this won’t happen again.
Aside from Gyllenhaal and Reynolds, there’s one more actor I recognized, Hiroyuki Sanada as Sho Murakami, the station’s pilot. He was in another harrowing space journey, one to re-ignite the sun in Sunshine (2007). He died in that one too. Most of the gore isn’t as gory as it could have been, if this had been a lower-budgeted B-movie. Murakami’s semi-gory death is seen from a distance, which actually minimized the effect. The first half of the movie tries to establish the characters with their backstories, which it does fine, before the alien gets loose. I will say, I dug the downbeat ending, one that actually keeps the movie open for a sequel. But I’m pretty damn sure there won’t ever be a sequel. There was a rumor on a superhero movie site that hinted Life could have been an origin story for one of Spider-Man’s arch-enemies, Venom, based on a crowd scene that was pulled from Spider-Man 3 (2007), and the fact both movies were made by Sony, but, no, this alien isn’t Venom. Had this been an unofficial Venom origin tale though, I think I would have liked it more.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.39:1 high definition widescreen—7.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 French DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital, 5.1 Thai Dolby Digital, English (Audio Description)—English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Malay, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai subs.
Extras included . . .
- Deleted Scenes (6 scenes/play separately or all at once)
- Claustrophobic Terror: Creating A Thriller In Space (7:28)
- Life: In Zero G (6:54)
- The Art And Reality of Calvin (7:07)
- Astronaut Diaries (3:00)