Saturday, July 22, 2017

Life Movie Review

Life (2017)
Rent Life on Amazon Video
Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Directed by:Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada
Rating: R

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars and now threatens the crew and Earth if they return.

This is trying to be a big budget Alien (1979), but falls short of the goal. With a solid, though derivative premise, contrivances overshadow what could have been an okay movie. While the alien is super smart, it's not smart enough to overcome a trope filled plot. This is all style and no substance, eliciting no emotion or attachment. On top of that it's half an hour too long.
It depends.

Alien life has been discovered on Mars. This single cell organism is both muscle and brain, which seems like a rather absurd contrivance much too soon. This is Alien (1979) meets The Thing (1982), and by the end I wished I had watched either one of them.

This looks good, and often creates a tense mood, but so much of that is contrivance. Ryan Reynolds defies orders and protocol in an attempt save a crew member. These are military people, they should understand following orders. While the crew tries to contain the ever growing tentacled blob, they can only shut the vents off one at a time in the room containing it as the blob races to each one because it somehow already knows where the vents are. That's par for this movie, contrivance used for tension. It even goes full alien with a crew member getting eviscerated.
Frequently the crew's actions make no sense. Do they not realize the blob they call 'Calvin' escaped or do they not care a killer blob is loose? Rarely does the crew behave like real people.
Calvin is smarter than he has any right to be. It's not just smart, he has a preternatural knowledge of everything. It makes for tense scenes that unfortunately stretch credibility. At one point Calvin attacks a crew member outside of the ship, because that seemed like a good idea in the current circumstances. Calvin ruptures the coolant line of the suit. At this point I'm trying to find fault in the movie. How could Calvin know the coolant line would be detrimental to the crew member?

There is one instance where the movie fulfills a trope that makes sense. There's a clear way to kill Calvin or so I surmised, and the movie actually does what I think it should. Of course Calvin is too smart for that. He somehow gets back inside a sealed ship with no explanation. It's not like there's a hole somewhere. This is a space ship. Holes in the hull are a problem. Somehow Calvin exits and enters the ship.

This could be a decent movie but the plot contrivances stifle anything good. It's not far from a horror movie like The Blob, assuming the blob was an all knowing, vicious killer. This relies fully on a CGI Calvin and Hollywood flash instead of developing sympathetic characters. After we passed the ninety minute mark I was hoping Calvin would hurry up and end this movie. Kill the crew and end this thing already. I could have watched Aliens (1986) or even Gravity (2013).

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