Life is popcorn science fiction, that on first glance, seems like something that is destined for the DVD bin at Walmart. But it’s actually 100 minutes of thrills and chills.
We are two months away from another Ridley Scott Aliens flick, but director Daniel Espinosa provides sci-fi horror fans with a bit of an appetizer. Although there are definite parallels between Life and films like Aliens and Gravity, this movie actually reminded me of the 1986 “classic” Star Crystal that I once owned on VHS. Don’t judge.
My terrible 80s movie tastes aside, Life is written by the writing duo of Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese who also wrote Deadpool 1 and 2, which is probably on of many reasons that drew actor Ryan Reynolds to the role of the wise-cracking technician Rory Adams. This wasn’t much of a stretch for the Vancouver-born actor because being sarcastic yet adorable is what he does best.
The film also stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson who only add to the ridiculously good looking crew who are aboard the International Space Station to observe soil samples from Mars.
What they end up finding is concrete evidence of extraterrestrial life but is it friendly?
Of course not.
This ever-growing space creature (bemusingly called Calvin) starts to decimate crew members one by one and each death is quite glorious, that is if you’re into the blood and broken bones. There are some gruesome scenes but this is sci-fi horror at its finest and although it may lack originality; it more than makes up for with its tight pacing, slick effects, and overall genre filmmaking smarts.
Director Espinosa may have been influenced by the sci-fi films of the past, but he puts his own stamp on the genre with this popcorn-munching scare fest that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. There is always the right amount of tension with a twist or two thrown in to keep you interested.
Acting wise, well, the characters are pretty one-dimensional and for folk that are meant to be scientists they can act like complete morons at times. But at least they’re pretty right? Usually, I have a problem when there isn’t more emphasis put on character development, but as soon as this film begins you realize quickly that they are not there for you, they are only on screen as alien fodder.
Don’t get me wrong, each actor is great in their individual roles, hell I could watch Gyllenhaal read a phone book for two hours and I’d be mesmerized, but the real star of this film is the actual space creature.
Major props need to go to British VFX house Double Negative for their outstanding work. The alien-like creature is original in its look and deadliness, how it kills in zero-gravity is something I haven’t seen on screen before.
The entire production is slick and just like the film Gravity you immediately feel like you’re floating around with the crew within the space station, but instead of George Clooney, we get a blood sucking creature hiding just around the corner.
There is something about scary things hunting people down in close quarters that make audiences squirm. If you don’t like that feeling of uneasiness then this is not a movie for you. That said, if you are a fan of blood splatter in space, you’ll really dig this.
Overall this is fun times at the movie theatre. All I want from films like these are monsters that can induce nightmares and a story that keeps me engaged. This movie delivers all of that, and although you could probably wait to watch this at home, there was something fun about seeing it on the big screen with people who scare easily that made it far more satisfying.
I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed myself so much that I’m giving it 4 out of 5 pieces of alien plasma flavoured popcorn.
Playing at a theatre near you. Rated R and 104 minutes long.