Director: Daniel Espinosa
Aboard the International Space Station, orbiting the earth, a group of scientists representing a number of countries are awaiting the return of a probe from Mars to analyse the samples it returns with. After averting a disaster where the probe was nearly lost, the team are able to set about their work. Their yield brings unprecedented findings and the very first proof of life on Mars. After initial feelings of elation and success, matters take a turn for the worse when a fairly innocuous attempt to revive the initially minute creature provokes the being to attack the crew and the story takes on a more perilous tone as survival becomes the only goal.
The cast is an interesting mix. Ryan Reynolds offers a kind of Deadpool in space, if Deadpool was your average astronaut wearing a designated uniform rather than his superhero’s more eye-catching fatigue. He’s a potty mouth officer but likeable enough, a loud and crass good guy to have around. He doesn’t share much interaction with Rebecca Ferguson and Jake Gyllenhaal, they have a more integrated relationship throughout the film. Rebecca Ferguson plays a tough ranking scientist citing her strict protocols for every move and decision she makes. Yet she still manages to portray a caring presence around her subordinates. Jake Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, carries a little more baggage than the rest of the crew. In his role as a military Doctor he has witnessed some harrowing scenes on Earth and now prefers the calm and relative peacefulness that being in space brings. Roles with baggage are meat and drink to Gyllenhaal and he gives a solid turn but as with Reynolds and Ferguson a limited script doesn’t offer much opportunity to shine.
My fears for this was that it would be another failed attempt to recreate Alien and also that it was really poorly titled. To be fair to Life it isn’t the first and won’t be the last film to try to do this and there are worse films you can try to copy from than that classic. The bad news for this film is that it doesn’t get anywhere near the claustrophobic environment that Alien set, it doesn’t have that Ripley character nor does the Martian antagonist present the same sort of terror as the Xenomorph . The best way I can describe it is Alien meets Gravity and doesn’t match either for originality or story in any capacity. The film does offer some moments of genuine tension and some impressive effects but beyond that there’s nothing new here at all. What makes matters worse is that the climax is all too predictable as the sequence commences. You can see straight away what’s coming, or really you should. With all that said, it’s not a terrible film and if you’ve never seen Alien then it could work for you.
The verdict – 2.5/5 Stars: Been there, done that. Must try harder. Have you seen Arrival?