Life follows a crew of wickedly smaht astronauts aboard the International Space Station as they discover the first evidence that answers the question posed by the late, great David Bowie: is there life on Mars? According to the film, there is and it is one insane living entity. Life stars Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya and is directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Child 44).
My Thoughts On The Characters And Story
Space exploration and films that tackle the subject are my bread and butter. Merely thinking about the vastness of space or the idea of suddenly being trapped in a confined area anywhere that isn’t Earth excites me while simultaneously shaking me to my very core. With Sony/Columbia Pictures coming off the best film of last year, Passengers, I was curious to see how the studio handled a similar situation of beautifully talented people stuck on a spaceship with danger looming about. I will say, Life was immensely more enjoyable than the Chris Pratt/J-Law combo, although there are obviously many other sci-fi films that blow it (and Passengers) completely out of the water.
There are some top-tier level talent in Life that are unfortunately underutilized. I had high hopes for Rebecca Ferguson starring in a space thriller following her amazing performance in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, especially with the physical prowess she had in that film. Ferguson was good in Life, however there were moments where I wondered whether she really wanted to be there. Every actor seemingly had the occasional moment where I wondered if they wanted to wrap for lunch. Reynolds‘ character’s quips kind of became tiresome as the film progressed which is surprising for me to say because I adored the immature quips he had in Deadpool… Granted that was a straight absurd comedy so it makes sense to have ridiculous comments running amok. I think his character was going for a Wade Wilson in Space-type feel and I just was not feeling it at all. Ariyon Bakare, Hiroyuki Sanada and Olga Dihovichnaya gave my favourite performances of the cast, particularly Bakare as I felt his character was given a bit more to work with and I loved how a certain physical aspect of his character gave one moment that left me stunned. Jake Gyllenhaal was definitely the weakest link of everyone; his constant leering and dead-eyed deliveries became more tiresome than the wacky Reynolds quip. There was certainly chemistry between the cast which is probably more of a testament to the charisma of the actors than what their characters were given.
The growth of the Mars entity was definitely enjoyable to watch and it gradually became more and more ridiculous as the film progressed. There are a few lapses in logic that had me shaking my head and other moments where I wonder if the astronauts even knew how to astronaut. SPOILER I don’t understand how the ship managed to lose so much fuel in the thruster sequence following the death. Also I really wish she would’ve just floated out into deep space instead of attempting to generate false tension with the whole latch situation and Gyllenhaal screaming. Also the whole thing with the only being able to close each hatch one by one? What? Why, who would invent it that way? END SPOILER.
There are certainly tension-filled moments that had me reclining in my seat. I adored its use of gore and the sequences that called for it were executed wonderfully. Calvin the Creature was also disgustingly terrifying, its progression from the simple all-encompassing-everything in a petri dish to what it eventually became was simply a joy to watch. Could have done without the face but we can’t always get what we want.
How Were The Other Aspects To ‘Life’?
The technical components in Life are easily my favourite aspects of the film, its colour palate veered toward the coolness of its blues so when there were sequences with warmer colours, they popped. What I appreciated the most was that it felt like these characters were actually on the ISS. The astronauts were constantly floating about, there were no inclusions of anti-grav units, everyone endured the restraining elements by grasping the bars available or strapping themselves in. This doesn’t mean I want all space-centric films to have their characters flying like eagles, it’s just a pleasant inclusion to depict the everyday experience astronauts have, minus the blood-hungry creature from Mars.
If you’re looking for an enjoyable horror sci-fi watch on a rainy afternoon starring your favourite actors, check out Life.
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Life receives 3/5 Matt Damon heads