Star – Jake Gyllenhaal
1 hr 44 minutes (Sci-Fi)
Certificate – 18 (USA)
Awards – 3 Nominations
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So Life, 2016s big mid budget star packed Science Fiction film that didn’t really register, directed by young David Espinosa, he of the popcorn thriller Safe House (Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds) and the misfire Child 44(Jude Law). But he had done enough there to be trusted with a $50 million plus budget here for this shameless Alien style remake. The fact the latest Alien reboot was coming out anyway makes this one a rather strange call to get the green-light. But it did and made $100m back to date as there is still demand for this claustrophobic alone in space stuff. At least Espinosa was honest enough to say his film was inspired by Ridley Scott’s classic.
- Jake Gyllenhaal as Dr. David Jordan, USA, ISS medical officer
- Rebecca Ferguson as Dr. Miranda North, UK, CDC quarantine officer
- Ryan Reynolds as Rory Adams, USA, ISS flight engineer
- Hiroyuki Sanada as Sho Murakami, Japan, ISS systems engineer
- Ariyon Bakare as Dr. Hugh Derry, UK, ISS exobiologist
- Olga Dihovichnaya as Golovkina, Russia, ISS Mission Commander
The unmanned Pilgrim 7 NASA space probe is serenely returning from Mars to Earth with a soil sample that could be evidence of extraterrestrial life. But it enters an asteroid field and is damaged by micro impacts that affect its navigation controls.
There are six-members on the International Space Station tasked to capture the spacecraft using an unorthodox maneuver with the docking arm and certain protocols in place if they get it on board and there are indeed genuine life signs in the sample.
The sample is placed in a sealed lab environment for exobiologist Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) to get first crack at it. He is then sealed in the lab while he works alone in case of unknown variables. After trying a few things he revives the dormant cell structure and it quickly grows into a multi-celled organism the size of a playing card that adapts to its new world of a secure microwave sized glass tank and so confirmed life on Mars. The news breaks and American school children on Earth get to name it “Calvin”.
Derry is so enthralled by the object he gets tired from long hours and makes a mistake, an atmospheric accident in the lab leaving Calvin dormant once again. After a while Hugh revives Calvin with mild electric shocks, but Calvin immediately becomes hostile and attacks Hugh, as you would, crushing his gloved protected hands in the tank with gluey like tentacles but the blob still contained in the tank. But the thing clearly doesn’t want to be contained in the tank much longer and manages to escape, exposing Hugh to attack, soon, disabled in the sealed lab alone with the alien thing that is now getting bigger after devouring a lab rat.
Engineer Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds) can’t bear to see his mate trapped in there with that thing and breaks protocol by opening the door and going in, much to the annoyance of security quarantine officer Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson). He manages to get an unconscious Derry out but tagged by the now octopus like Calvin at the last. Physician David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) has no choice but to lock Rory in the room to keep Calvin contained. Rory is given the order to kill Calvin with whatever is in the lab but learning quickly it’s pretty indestructible and still growing. When Calvin jumps on his face and into the engineer’s mouth, eating him inside out, it’s clear the situation is no longer contained and protocol 3 is enabled. This thing can not be allowed to enter Earth’s orbit.
Although increasingly silly at times to keep the film moving forward and the tension high, its entertaining enough as the creature adapts and the space station and crew becomes more endangered to generate that edge. The thing is simply fighting for survival in an extremely hostile environment and only one winner as it eyes Earth. A – Listers Reynolds and Gyllenhaal are not stretched though as the trapped in space clichés are ticked off one-by-one as the orbit decays.
It looks good, as you would expect with modern CGI, and one or two scene looks nicked from Gravity. Espinosa got the most important bit right but the science is probably way off. But, like I said, the film has to be moved forward as the alien scurries around the space station – inside and out – to create action and drama and any sort of dimensions to the film. A good twist near the end leaves the movie above the mediocre space film line although not one to watch again the way you can Aliens and Apollo 13 etc. Gravity is also a letdown in the same way and both films not exploiting their concept movie tag well enough.
Imdb.com – 6.6/10.0 (137.234votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 67% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 54% critic’s approval
One or two
-Life: Zero G-
Cast & crew talk about filming on set.
-Cheating Life: The art of reality-
Art work and Special Effects stuff.
-Creating a thriller in space.
More storyboard and behind the scenes stuff.
-Astronaut Diaries –
Pretty pointless video diaries from each of the six on the ISS.
NZ Herald –‘It’s just an okay film that fell out of my brain soon after I left the theatre.
New Yorker –‘The movie reduces its fear factor to simple suspense that’s not insignificant but is pretty insubstantial’.
Washington Post –‘Life has cool effects, real suspense and a sweet twist. It ain’t rocket science, but it does what it does well — even, one might say, with a kind of genius’.
The Mail –‘It’s Alien for short attention spans, Arrival for non-pacifists, with some remnant of ambition toward something headier. On that count, it falls short, but as a final-girl structured horror film, it has plenty of imaginative moments’.
MTV –‘We, too, are just collections of cells, and Espinosa plays our nervous system like a flamenco guitar in concert with head-pounding drums and nauseous trombones’.
Wall Street Times –‘For all its flashy trappings, weighty ruminations and zero-gravity floatings aboard the International Space Station, Life turns out to be another variant of Alien, though without the grungy horror and grim fun’.