I love space – science fiction thrillers, so it was a very easy call for me to make sure to see Actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds in the film simply called “LIFE”. A contemporary story of a six-member crew on the International Space Station that is on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars.
Early on in “LIFE” we discover a deep space probe has landed on Mars and is the process of returning to earth with some precious cargo in the way of Mars soil on board. But as it goes through the gauntlet of the asteroid belt between Mars and Earth it is severely damaged. The result is rather than returning to a control docking on the ISS it must be manually snared on the exterior of the space station with a large magnet mechanical hand before it burns up in Earth’s atmosphere
Moving at a high speed, Chief Engineer Rory Adams (Ryan Reynold) exits the ISS to successfully ensnare the probe. Shortly thereafter we see Chief Science Officer Dr. Hugh Derry beginning to conduct his research on what looks like to be a fossilized single cell organism that appears to be dead in the soil. After many repeated attempts to stimulate the organism, Dr. Derry does figure out a way to bring it to “Life”. However unbeknownst to Dr. Derry and the entire crew at that very moment his decision will end up having dire unintended deadly consequences as they all (we) will soon discover the single cell creature they casually name “Calvin” proves to be a far more intelligent entity than anyone had reason to suspect.
REVIEW: First the visual esthetics of “LIFE” itself are impressive, i.e. the interior – exterior of the ISS, the suits, the look of earth from space and the movements of objects in weightlessness are right on par with the 2013 highly acclaimed film “Gravity”, as well as the story line structure (initially) with the far more critically acclaimed iconic 1979 effort “Alien” which I believe this film draws most (if not a lot) of it inspiration from. Unfortunately, those are the only things that will keep your interest keenly focused on this metaphorically speaking Titantic-ish story in space.
I have several issues with this film. First, they had four characters in the film who had four distinct foreign born accents which at times while they spoke English still had me muttering to myself “WTF were they saying”; little did I know early on it really didn’t matter to the overall plot. Second, while the ship’s crew appears to be highly accomplished by their titles of professional achievements i.e. engineers, medical officer, science officer, pilot etc., etc. they still managed to come across like a bunch of teenagers who could not figure out why they lost their bandwidth signal on their I-Phones while traveling through the Holland Tunnel in New York; translation they appeared to be an emotionally muted and dumb crew. Third because of their lack of genuine authentic intellect both cerebrally and emotionally, they consistently came across as one dimensional throughout the entire film, having little in the way of personal development as to who they are then or who they were prior substantively and why they were in space. One could only concluded it wasn’t important enough to the Director, so instead he put just the bare minimum emotional meat on their bones to set them up for their real eventual value to the film which was to be a series of systematic victims on a progressively slow and ploddingly deadly treadmill for the octopus looking “alien life form” to gruesomely kill. Finally, when the films comes to its grand finale, the actual last scene itself was so lacking in anything one would describe as being smart or having thoughtful clarity, well should you see it you probably will react as I did by rolling your eyes in the back of your head for its clumsily flat and uninspiring conclusion.
“LIFE” while it does have some moments of real arm gripping tension, overall still lacked anything approaching what one would should reasonably expect from a science fiction story aka “intrigue”. Rather “LIFE” gave me the feeling of someone lathered a film story together solely with splattered on digital paint hoping it would eventually masquerade itself into something cinematically dramatic. The overall result was (as far as I could see) was what I found lacking throughout the film's execution itself. It’s lacking in real palatable danger. It’s lacking in real legitimate nail biting chaos. It’s lacking in real emotional smart conversation. And finally it’s lacking in a real meaningful narrative screenplay with human depth and consequences to pull it all together. All I got was a feeling of lukewarm immaturity as an attempt (I guess) by the Director to not get too deep by ephemerally appealing to a more low attention span millennial crowd with just enough of the great similarities from the superior predecessor “Alien” to make his film work for today’s audience.
Director Daniel Espinosa delivers for its 1:51 minutes running time an unfortunate dropped ball on this space story, which is even more disappointing given dropping a ball in the weightlessness of space is impossible.
“LIFE” unfortunately never floats at all into your imagination, rather it floats around and around like something is on life (less) support.
"Alien: Covenant"...................Where are you?