'Life' movie review - A terrifying and exceedingly grim trip to space

Pablo Tucker
March 24, 2017

Life - ironically - has none.

Director Daniel Espinosa's stylish and at times fantastically gory "Life" features an A-list, global and diverse cast, a few grotesque surprises and one very cool and labyrinthine spaceship - but eventually crashes and burns due to multiple failures, from a script that requires really smart people to act like dopes far too often to an overbearing score (enough with the "Inception" foghorn-ripoffs) to some badly mistimed "Gotcha!" moments to a monster that looks like a less intimidating version of a half-dozen space lizard thingies we've seen in better movies. The crew analyzes the soil and finds a one-cell organism that responds to more oxygen and warmer temperatures. That's Jake Gyllenhaal as PTSS space medic David Jordan - he's done land duty in Syria and likes it better up here above the fray - and Ryan Reynolds as mission specialist Rory Adams, who cracks wise like Deadpool minus the mask (love the shoutout to Re-Animator, by the way). They're wasted in this total waste of time. "Mostly what people do is they hire these three big companies that create all those creatures for the movies and therefore majority kind of look the same". Then it goes into hibernation. "I never thought I would be allowed to tackle it, you know?" He attacks the guy, mangles his hand, uses the tool that woke him up to escape his enclosure.

Calvin (sadly there is no Hobbes in sight) grows in size and shape, but he mostly looks like a super-powerful, fearfully smart starfish. Those alive must destroy Calvin, part of a species that has destroyed life on Mars, before it can make its way to Earth and wipe humans out too.

This young year has offered its share of crappy genre movies - Underworld and Resident Evil, I'm looking at you - and Life distinguishes itself with a strong cast, a couple of good ideas and some great effects. After that, things escalate to an absurd degree, and the characters behave so foolishly that it's hard to care whether any of them live or die. I happen to think that the B-grade Alien ripoffs (Galaxy of Terror, Forbidden World and its 1991, Bryan Cranston-starring remake Dead Space being three of the most prominent ones) are pretty fun. But so what? Been there. Power Rangers - the live action flick based on the 1990s kiddie cartoon the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers - or this one.

"I knew him, just as a passerby", he told BBC Radio 1 presenter Nick Grimshaw in a pre-recorded interview, set to air in the United Kingdom on Friday (24Mar17).

This, I will admit, is still entertaining to watch, although the alien is also hostile towards the viewer: he starts by killing off the most entertaining and likeable characters and leaves us with the most boring ones by the end.

Rated R for gore, violence and language. It's playing at the AMC Kennewick 12, the Fairchild Pasco and Queensgate 12s, and Walla Walla Grand Cinemas. In the big screen version, a rookie cop is teamed up with a season veteran and soon the duo find themselves in the middle of an FBI investigation that may involve some crooked police officers.

Still, it is a pleasure to see a film which offers good, honest Friday-night scares without being adapted from a superhero comic or a television series, and the efficiency with which "Life" delivers those scares is admirable.

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