Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Film Review: Life (2017)

Life (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It's not Alien for a new generation, it just doesn't have that same effect, but it is very entertaining."

A team of scientists on the International Space Station discover a new form of life from Mars. While researching the lifeform, however, they discover that it may not be as friendly as it seems...

Life is a very simple film—to a fault, even. The story follows a team on the ISS: Mission Commander Ekaterina Golovkina, Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), flight engineer Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds), systems engineer Sho Murakami, and Dr. Hugh Derry. The team captures a probe returning from Mars with a possible sample of life. After experimenting with the lifeform—basically awakening it—they're elated. They have discovered life beyond mankind. They even name it 'Calvin.' However, they quickly discover that Calvin isn't exactly friendly. After that, it's your basic fight for survival with the same ol' goal: don't let the hostile lifeform get to Earth. That's where the simplicity hurts the film. It doesn't take many risks, playing out as a derivative Sci-Fi horror film. It leads to a decent ending, although it was also predictable.

Life excels as a horror movie thanks to its direction. Like I said, the plot is simple and predictable. You know exactly what's going to happen nearly every step of the way. You know who will survive and who won't. You know what type of ending it will be aiming for. However, the film is still engaging and tense. It's the type of film that starts off slow, building it character and plot, then it continues to rise. The tension grows and grows with each horrific sequence. It kept me at the edge of my seat at times. There aren't really any jump-scares—it's not that type of horror movie. It's completely reliant on its suspense, atmosphere, and its fear of the unknown. I will say this, though: Calvin isn't exactly a frightening alien in terms of name and design. It's no xenomorph, that's for sure.

Jake Gyllenhaal is great as the leading man. He delivers a very grounded but effective performance. Rebecca Ferguson was also good, although she doesn't shine as much as her counterpart. Ryan Reynolds plays himself, as usual, but he's not bad at it. The rest of the supporting cast was good, too. The film was shot well. This is a film that should be watched at the highest quality. The music was also great. The film was written by Rhett Reese Paul Wernick and directed by Daniel Espinosa. The writing is predictable, but it's also good. It's not as reliant on plot contrivances like other films in the subgenre, although there are some 'stupid' decisions. Espinosa, however, steals the show. He knows how to create suspense and atmosphere, he knows how to make a horror movie.

Overall, Life is a very good movie. It's not Alien for a new generation, it just doesn't have that same effect, but it is very entertaining. If you're looking for a tense and frightening Sci-Fi horror movie, this is for you. If you're looking for an original experience, you might want to look elsewhere.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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