Life – 2 out of 5
Man, wouldn’t it be cool to discover alien life? Science fiction sure thinks so and that’s why we see books, shows, and movies about it all the time. We’re pretty much at the point where it’s hard to have this trope be told originally and not inevitably compared to other properties that have come along in the past. Life tries to do something original but placing it in today’s era and having it revolve around real scientific discoveries that we are currently unearthing (like with all we are learning currently about Mars). It’s a neat idea but one that, sadly, didn’t really work.
|Look at that space being all last frontier-y.|
After a space probe returns from a Mars mission to the International Space Station, the crew is shocked to discover that one of the samples that were collected contains dormant, simplistic life. With this news of this new discovery, the scientists on board start to revive the creature in order to watch it grow into a multi-cellular organism after it was nicknamed “Calvin.” After an incident causes Calvin to return to its previous, dormant state, one of the researches tries to wake it up with a mild electrical shock. His attempt is successful but he’s also awoken other, more primal urges within the alien creature…mostly its need to survive. Now the crew must stop Calvin as it rampages and attacks them. More importantly, however, they must stop it from getting to Earth.
|"Hey look, I just had a baby. Nothing bad will happen to me now!"|
Life has a concept that feels like it has been done before (because it has) but having it take place in the more modern era—especially one where we are actually discovering unknown realities about Mars—kinda gives it a leg up. When you add in the cast, which includes the likes of Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal, this film feels like, at the very least, it should provide some sort of base level entertainment but, instead, I found a film that believes it is way more brilliant than it is and somehow manages to make what should naturally be thrilling and even a little terrifying feel mundane and even routine. To put it bluntly: Life is kinda boring. And to put it with a hacky one-liner review way: Life has no life to it.
|Well, this clearly is fiction because no astronaut is that good looking...|
not that astronauts aren't capable of being good looking. I mean, come on,
Reynolds is stupidly adorable by all mortal standards.
The performances by Reynolds, Gyllenhaal and the rest of the cast are the strongest aspects to the whole film. The reason this feature just didn’t resonate with me came entirely from the script and the tone. Additionally, this movie has a lot of plot holes that added too many “WTF” statements from me as I was watching it. Some of them were the obvious ones like the fact that Calvin is said to be a carbon-based, oxygen breathing organism but is surviving in arenas that carbon-based, oxygen breathing organisms don’t do so well in and other moments were more subtle and only come to light when you sit down and think about them. For example, without delivering the dreaded Spoilers, this film has an ended that is one giant plot hole as you would think the enter sequence would have been rendered inert if the government and NASA had any sort of actual protocols in action—but this ending postulates that it doesn’t. And speaking of endings, boy does this one have a lame one.
|"Hey alien, if you don't kill me I'll be your best friend."|
A great twist ending can really make a movie. Sometimes, it can take a weak film or just a serviceable one and make it more memorable. However, a really bad weak ending or even one that is extremely predictable can completely undo a film. Life wasn’t doing so hot for most of the movie and its attempt at a twist, supposedly shocking ending didn’t help matters and it turned this otherwise kinda average movie into a much weaker one. The problem with this feature’s ending isn’t that it is just predictable and the way the last ten minutes is edited makes its “twist” viewable before its even foreshadowed, it’s that the film presents this ending like it is momentous and that the viewers never could have seen it coming. With its grand shot and epic music accompanying it, you would think the director thought he was presenting the greatest ending to ever be showcased in the world of cinema but, instead, what you get is a faux-twist ending that isn’t shocking or even mildly surprising. It would have been just a disappointment if presented by itself but the ego at which it is shown made it all that much worse. It was hard not to roll my eyes at seeing exactly what I predicted I was going to see at the beginning of the film.
|The alien looks like something that you would find in our ocean and would probably|
be poisonous...because our oceans are truly the most terrifying thing in existence.
Life was kinda doomed from the get-go because it is attempting to be another first contact/horrific alien encounter and we’ve see a whole hell of a lot of those (although, I did watch a really great one recently). Even boasting its star power (which is really the only thing this film has going for it) isn’t enough to make this film work. Hell, the movie couldn’t even make the moments that should be hair-raising and even terrifying work thanks to a lethargic score, underdeveloped characters, a pretty uninteresting monster, and pacing that never made anything feel like it was dire or immediate. These facts alone are bad enough but when you deliver an ending that is weak and predictable but presented like it was a grand surprise, you have a film that is, for lack of a better word, lame.