Directed by Daniel Espinosa.
Starring Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya.
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 all life on Earth
When the trailers for Life first started dropping, the comparisons to seminal sci-fi horror Alien were inevitable. A group of astronauts find alien life and all hell breaks loose pretty much sums up both films, however, they do differ in a lot of ways (both positive and negative). Alien is a superbly crafted and original film which blends high concept sci-fi with horror and drama. Whilst Life can’t claim to be original, it does offer enough new little twists for it to stand alone in its own right.
A group of astronauts (in what we must assume is present day or if not only slightly in the future) are at the International Space Station ready to collect a series of samples that a probe from Mars is delivering back. A stunning one shot opening from Espinosa sets up the team and the tension perfectly as they race to catch up the probe and for the horror to begin. From there it’s business as usual as they find alien life and start doing tests. In a disgusting body horror moment, team member Hugh (Bakare) is attacked by the alien (named Calvin) in an unsettling and highly tense scene. Life progresses at lightning speed with Calvin evolving and picking off the team members in various ways. Whilst there are a few dialogue heavy scenes that don’t quite work, the action is taught and the pace doesn’t let up. The films ultimate conclusion is bombastic and horrifying and I loved it.
Where Life struggles is in its characters. They are all extremely bland and we don’t get to find out much about them. Whilst no one feels like fodder, this is largely because a majority of the cast are recognisable, we don’t learn much about our heroes at all. Gyllenhaal’s Doctor David Jordan gets some back story development but everyone else is there purely to provide a function on the ISS and nothing more. Interestingly the character I wanted to find out more about was Hugh (Bakare). On Earth Hugh is paralysed from the waist down and it’s an interesting idea to take someone with that condition and make them weightless.
Where Life truly succeeds is in its score from Jon Ekstrand; a deafening and intense score throughout elevates Life to a whole new level. The truly horrifying body gore moments are supported with a weighty score which adds tension and helps lift the whole film.
Life doesn’t break any new ground in terms of plot but a decent cast, phenomenal score, good direction and a cracker of an ending make it an enjoyable movie. It did get me thinking, who would win in a fight between Calvin and the Xenomorph?
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★