Isolation in space is not a new concept, but it’s one that has always intrigued me. No help, no matter the circumstances. That is just tempting fate and what a thrill it can be if done right. Life is by no means original in ideas but regardless it is a thrilling, bloody, damn good time. Of course everyone will think ALIEN and Life works best if you think of it as more homage than copy. But where Life differs and really shines is the attempt at grounding this space thriller in reality as much as possible. Set in present day aboard the International Space Station, this is a much more honest look at a biological event gone wrong. With strong cinematography, excellent CGI, and great performances from its cast, Life is more than passable despite its place firmly in the realm of recycled material.
Its first strength, and something I always appreciate, is that it’s made for adults. Isn’t that nice? A movie that isn’t animated with some bullshit morality lesson at the end of it. That’s the dream. Well, a dream at least. THE dream is something I might get in trouble for even thinking of, let alone type it for you to read. That would be self-indictment and I’m not that stupid. But I digress… Its second strength is the story itself. Knowingly treading familiar story territory, it does so with confidence and a hope that despite familiarity, shock and awe can still be achieved. And it can.
This is all nice but a film in space requires one obvious thing, computer generated imagery. A great film can falter under the weak knees of a haphazard attempt at bringing the impossible to screaming life (Pun) and with our latest jaunt into the vast unknown, we see beautifully shot images of our mother earth, the ISS, and of course the antagonist who is slimy in all the terrifying ways it should be. One thing supports the other and one weak link can cause the pyramid to tumble. So thankfully all of these supports are anchored by believable performances from the cast. Their actions have consequences and through their performances, we see the weight of these burden laden decisions that don’t always turn out right.
At times the film finds itself in a hamster wheel of sorts, repeating the same process over and over again. But it never lets up and when the end comes, it is one that didn’t necessarily surprise me but it certainly pleased me. Life left me with one of my favorite ways a movie can end. I won’t say who, what, or how but just know it’s a strong finish and one that can shove someone off the fence in either direction, hate it or love it.
I can’t fail to mention the villain, the biological entity from Hell. Much like all real biologically cognitive creatures, the entity isn’t motivated by hate or emotion but pure survival. And in such an unforgiving environment, survival is a bit of a tightrope. It’s mentioned by a character that space in many ways is easier, nothingness is simpler. The evil of man is enough to make the emptiness of space seem, homey. So while this creature maims and mutilates and murders, it is never with any motivation beyond surviving. It’s with our heroes that hate and malevolence appear and ultimately decides their fate. This is a great story aspect to flesh the human characters out.
Life maintains a level of edge and suspense throughout and creates a film worthy of mention among those it clearly emulates. It’s obvious that care went into this in every manner and because of that, what could have been a forgetful, boring thriller, is something actually worthy of your time and money. Life treads the familiar but with some of its own flair and courage, it becomes a thrilling space horror that most certainly delivers.
Rated R For: language throughout, some sci-fi violence and terror
Runtime: 103 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Horror, Sci-fi, Thriller
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada
Directed By: Daniel Espinosa
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3.5/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below:
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