By Chase McNaughton/ Staff Writer
“Life” is a movie about a group of people who discover life in outer space. The bioform becomes deadly and starts killing the crewmembers one by – oh wait, that’s the sci-fi horror classic “Alien”… let me start over. “Life” is a movie about a group of people who discover life in outer space. The bioform becomes deadly and starts killing the crewmembers one by one. This is the movie “Life.” If you could not tell, yes, the story is exactly like Ridley Scott’s “Alien” from 1979. Does this reflect badly on this film? Yes and no.
To this film’s credit, it does try to give its own unique take on the isolation space horror genre. “Alien” is more fiction based than “Life” because it takes place in the distant future and has built its own lore around the famous xenomorph creatures. “Life” is a more realistic approach. It takes place in present day on the International Space Station and displays what could happen if we one day encounter life in space and it does not end well. The downside is that “Life” shows how much inspiration it obviously took from “Alien.” I side with the people who find this obnoxious and unoriginal, although I know there are a lot of people who just enjoy a movie because it’s entertaining. But, I am afraid to say that I did not find “Life” entertaining either.
This movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya. I like these actors and they were given good material to work with, but they still come off as bland. This shocks me because they all play scientists who are the first to discover extra terrestrial life and are put in a deadly scenario where that life form is killing them. There should have been a lot more emotion put into their roles. I don’t blame the actors, because they all have done great stuff in the past. My best guess is the director wanted to underplay the performances so that it becomes easier and more fun for the audiences to watch.
However, the movie is a sci-fi horror. It’s supposed to be unsettling and heart-pounding, which this movie lacks. For example, consider the alien they encounter: with the technology we have for movies today, the design for the alien could be down right incredible. But, what do we get? Essentially, it’s a floating octopus. Just a floating octopus with a face and no teeth. In other words, it’s severely underwhelming. The CGI wasn’t bad, but I didn’t feel frightened by the creature. To this film’s credit, it is visually impressive. One might consider the cinematography and effects groundbreaking if it wasn’t already perfected in “Gravity” from 2013. The long one-shot takes, the pretty imagery of Earth and the Sun, and the effects of people floating in zero gravity are all in “Life,” but I just saw a movie trying to be something that was already perfected. In other words, this movie is a literal fusion of “Gravity”’s effects and “Alien”’s story. In theory, this should be a fantastic combination, but it fails to impact the audience in the same way that Gravity and Alien did when they hit the theaters.
In conclusion, this movie succeeds in taking a beloved masterpiece and giving it a new spin, but the unoriginality and blandness keeps this from being a good movie. The effects are decent, the way they shot the International Space Station is really cool, and some of the death scenes are a little suspenseful since you have no idea who is going to live. However, if you are looking to get scary imagery and heart-pounding suspense, go see “Alien.” If you are looking for stunning visuals and a heartfelt journey, go see “Gravity.” If you are looking to get out of the house and see some new entertainment with friends, then you should like this just fine. It’s still fun enough for me to recommend it, but there is just not enough to find anything special about this movie. Fortunately, it beats watching “Boss Baby” or “Smurfs” on a weekend.