Release Date: March 24, 2017
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writer: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Cast: Hiroyuki Sanada, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare, Jesus Del Orden, Allen McLean, Leila Grace Bostwick-Riddell, Mari Gvelesiani, David Muir, Elizabeth Vargas, Camiel Warren-Taylor, Haruka Kuroda, Naoko Mori, Alexandre Nguyen, Hiu Woon-Sin
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 103 minutes
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, Skydance Media, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE)
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Language: English, Japanese, Chinese
For me there isn’t much hope when I see a movie advertised about an alien life form that grows into a menace, that may potentially harm earth. In this space adventure it seems all too familiar. My thoughts are it’s only worth it if the characters don’t make rash decisions that lead to disaster. Though with the writers being Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Deadpool, Zombieland), my attitude remained on the optimistic side going in. So right before its release with a cast of a few familiar faces, I was on board. Life gives you a good group of characters that feel like family, but it’s heartbreaking that they aren’t treated too well, and it has an ending that’s frightening yet still leaves you satisfied.
You can’t help but to see the resemblance to the film Gravity (2013). They’re both space trips with the involved desperate to survive. Though Life was able to accomplish something different, setting itself apart with its use of the camera. Director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) was able to craft long takes of space corridors like a maze, without the shots breaking, pulling you into the scene and making you feel like you’re an astronaut yourself, all while the illusion of floating is apparent. You get a great scope of the ship without feeling lost, which makes everything feel more like home. This is no easy task, and shows Espinosa as someone who has true skill.
Set in the near future, it was refreshing to see the group of space pioneers, all with their respected trade and place of origin, working together as one unit. Even as calculating and spot on each were at their particular skill, they still showed human emotion when tension was on the rise. They all had an end goal and respected each other’s tenacity to do what was necessary when the time came. Even if their decision wasn’t the best, their intention is all that mattered. Their performance was convincing enough that where any life was lost you felt their presence fade away. This was done by the film showing you what everyone cared for and feared, making their characters more relatable than you would imagine.
The plot of the film was straight forward and in line with what any sane group of people would do. Explore, experiment, and record seemed to be the agenda; but human emotion is what sets their path astray. There is a decision with one character that was distracting and fell into the trope of not using common sense. This method used to shake things up is tired and not the best way to push the story forward. What makes it worse is given the evidence, it would seem logical for every other character to take note and proceed with caution, but some lessons aren’t learned even when it slaps you continuously across the face. Instead of leaving well enough alone, one character met his demise; which he deserved for blatant stupidity. However, unfortunately, it made it difficult for the rest.
The effects are exactly where they need to be, showcasing an antagonist that is cute and cuddly. Then shortly after turning into an angel of death, you can’t imagine it touching you. Its design was unique, and of something you may never have seen before. Not knowing what it was also brought on a sense of anticipation. Knowing it can strike at any moment, not knowing how made you push back and forth in your seat. This isn’t a horror flick or high in suspense, but the curiosity behind the end game keeps your interest on alert.
In the least, this film is recommended for the entertainment value alone, but the main concern is whether you’ll be able to stomach the action that leads to an impending doom. If it wasn’t for these series of events, Life could potentially be one of the better films of the year. Though it doesn’t have my vote, with me not being able to distance myself from a section of bad character writing. Most will be able to get over it, and there’s a chance you may not notice, but the ending is what will having people talking.