Sometimes, the only thing more frightening than feeling alone is learning that we are not. “Life,” the newest edition to the outer space horror genre will have audiences dreading the answer to the age-old question: is there life on mars? The film is directed by Daniel Espinosa and stars Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson.
Following in the footsteps of other sci-fi thrillers, such as “Alien” and “Prometheus,” “Life” is the story of a team of astronauts who discover an alien lifeform, which (surprise, surprise) turns out to be deadly.
After successfully retrieving soil samples from mars, the six-member crew aboard the International Space Station discovers the first definite signs of extraterrestrial life, a single celled organism that they affectionately deem “Calvin.” As the days pass and Calvin continues to rapidly evolve, the team learns that they have made a grave mistake. After a series of gruesome mishaps, Calvin escapes his containment and begins to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting crew. The team’s mission of scientific discovery quickly evolves into a fight for survival. But keeping their little discovery from making his way to Earth won’t be easy; because, minute by minute, Calvin is getting bigger. And smarter.
Though highly entertaining, “Life” is highly predictable. The film differs little from predecessors in the genre and even becomes highly repetitive at times. For a crew of brainy scientists, their methods of attack against Calvin are quite limited. They trap him, then attack, then release, then trap again; rinse, lather, repeat. As the crew chases Calvin from one corner of the Space Station to the next attempting to starve him of oxygen, the film seems to run out of air as well. However, the film makes up for its lack of action with an ending that is guaranteed to leave movie goers with their jaws successfully dropped.
“Life” lacks much in the way of character development as well. Important details about each of the characters are revealed either right off the bat or not all and the acting is rather unexciting and even wooden at times. Neither Reynolds or Gyllenhaal deliver a unique performance outside of their usual spectrums, but still manage to entertain all the same. The special effects are unextraordinary as well, except for one ghoulish little feature.
In most sci-fi horror flicks gore is gratuitous; the amount of bloodshed is gruesome and needlessly excessive. But in “Life,” the moments of bloodshed are minimal and by far the most entertaining of the entire film. Due to the lack of gravity, the precious red bodily fluids of Calvin’s victims float weightlessly about the Space Station like little red bubbles of gore. This effect is small, yet brilliant; watching these blood bubbles drift about in zero gravity is hypnotic, grotesquely fascinating, and deeply unsettling. Though a bit underwhelming, “Life” is a breath of fresh air for the alien genre. It’s the perfect flick to see in preparation for the highly anticipated “Alien: Covenant.” “Life” gets 3/5 stars.