Movie Review: Life (2017)

Directed by Daniel Espinosa, known for the thrillers Safe House and Child 44, comes the space-horror movie Life. Dr David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), Dr Miranda North (Rebecca Fergunson) and systems engineer Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds) are three of the six-person team on the International Space Station (ISS) who discover life on Mars in a soil sample. Because nice things never happen in space stations in movies, especially when extraterestrial life is involved, the organism – named Calvin by the American public – soon evolves at a rapid pace. Taking many cues from films such as Alien and Sunshine, as well as certain comic books, the film quickly becomes a fight for survival for the ISS team.

+ as you’d expect, all main actors are great. All of Reynolds, Gyllenhaal and Ferguson are great as always (Gyllenhaal in particular has been killing it lately between this, Nocturnal Animals and Southpaw). Olga Dihovichnaya is fantastic as the ISS commander, and is involved in one of the more unsettling and stressful scenes in the film
+ Calvin, named after a US primary school, is absolutely terrifying. I am not fond of sea animals/monsters, so Calvin’s jellyfish/stingray like movements creeped me out in a big way. The various evolutions it goes through are all unique in their own way, but none of them are anything I’d want to be around in any capacity
+ the film is beautifully shot, and reminded me of a better-lit Alien. There were lots of long tracking shots of the crew traversing the ship in the zero gravity, and once things start to go wrong the ship almost becomes labyrinthine in it’s design

– despite my enjoyment of the concept, I can concede that the concept is not entirely new. As mentioned, the film either pays hommage to, or takes cues from, films such as Alien (itself self-described as “Jaws in space”), Sunshine or Pandorum. Much like The Belko Experiment, it is easy to look past the simplicity of the concept, but it certainly is not a unique idea for a film (although, have a look at the point below)

> As I was watching, I thought to myself that Calvin was sort of like a Marvel Comics’ symbiote, and apparently that is a common fan theory. Here’s hoping, because that would be a hell of a twist
> It was very amusing to me that Hiroyuki Sanada played the role of the pilot, because he was basically the same character as his in Sunshine

Should you see this film: I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this, but it really ended up tickling me in ways not many horror movies too. I am a huge fan of the Alien series, and this managed to capture that same mixture of dread and intrigue; I was scared of Calvin, but I still wanted to know more about it. This was good, with a few twists and turns to keep things interesting despite it’s common concept.


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