LIFE review

Damn, Milton Bradley must be rolling in his grave to see how piss poor his board game is being represented on the big screen.

Yup, just started off your light reading with that joke. Now that the ice has been cracked…

Is no one else concerned that this is just ALIEN (1979)?! I mean… look at that trailer! It’s so obviously ALIEN! I won’t lie and say that the star power in this situation alone makes it worthwhile, but… it’s ALIEN! Merr…. well, let’s hope I’m about as wrong about this movie as I would be if I said a tomato is a vegetable.

About that star power. We have the incredible core talent of Jake Gyllenhaal (NOCTURNAL ANIMALS [2016], SOUTHPAW [2015], and PRISONERS [2013]), Rebecca Ferguson (FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS [2016], MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION [2015], HERCULES [2014], and the upcoming M:I 6 – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE [2018]), and Ryan Reynolds (DEADPOOL [2016], BURIED [2010], THE AMITYVILLE HORROR [2005], and the upcoming DEADPOOL 2 [2018]). Gyllenhaal is certainly one of the most stand-out talents of his generation, often being a part of films that tap into weird characters, which is rarely a bad thing. Though I may not be the biggest fan of his, as his weird films aren’t always my favorite, I can’t deny his popularity and ability to command a presence on screen. Reynolds… probably the most celebrated actor in this cast due in no small part to his DEADPOOL film, though the man’s had an impressive career even before that and had an impressive foothold in geek culture for a long time. Not successfully, but he’s always tried and has finally succeeded. The man perfectly blends comedy and drama, so I look forward to seeing him here. Finally, probably my favorite actor here, Ferguson. Ever since ROGUE NATION, I’ve been keeping excited to see her in anything that she’s done. She’s a fine actress with a foot that kicks about as much ass as any man in action. I’ve said that I’d like to see her in something that branches out what she’s capable of bringing to the table. Horror wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but I’ll take it.

Now for the crew. Directing is Daniel Espinosa, known for CHILD 44 (2015), SAFE HOUSE (2012), and EASY MONEY (2010). Co-writing the screenplay are Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. *SLAMS ON THE BREAKS* Wait a fuck! Reese and Warnick?! The same duo that wrote ZOMBIELAND (2009) and DEADPOOL and their upcoming sequels??? Did I miss something? Is this movie going to be a comedy?! Since when did they branch out to full-on horror?! What is reality? Is the moon officially made of cheese now? Are mammoths in our zoos now? What, world?! What are you trying to do?! Fine! Whatever! I’ll see this movie! Just stop making me question my perception of I know to be real! God…! Anywho, composing the music is Jon Ekstrand, known for CHILD 44 and EASY MONEY. Finally, the cinematographer is Seamus McGarvey, known for THE ACCOUNTANT (2016), GODZILLA (2014), and THE AVENGERS (2012).

Overall, I know this is just ALIEN, but the talent’s drawing me in, so I remain optimistic.

This is my honest opinion of: LIFE

(SUMMARY)

Aboard a multi-billion dollar space station, a six-team crew is getting ready to capture a damaged satellite, hosting samples from Mars. The capture is successful and upon examining the specimens, they come across something remarkable: a dormant microscopic organism, which the crew resuscitates. Quickly, it begins to grow from single-celled, to multi-celled, composed of all muscle, eyes, and brain. Before long, the organism, affectionately nicknamed “Calvin,” begins to attack the crew of the station, killing them off one by one.

(REVIEW)

Well, damn. I mean, yeah, it’s very reminiscent of ALIEN, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. Eh… for the most part. I have my complaints.

But first, the good stuff.

First and foremost, there is a surprising amount of humor. It’s no comedy, by any stretch, but there are moments of levity that lighten the otherwise bleak tone this movie has going for it. Reynolds certainly steals the show whenever he’s on screen. Gyllenhaal has a funny line or two, and the banter between the characters is enjoyable as well, so the chemistry is never in question, working very well off of each other.

The atmosphere is perfect. As soon as the action kicks off, there’s never a moment where the tension lets up. It may not be non-stop action, but it doesn’t matter if it’s during the moments where Calvin is attacking the crew or the crew is trying to catch a breather from said attack, I was never sitting comfortably in my seat, and the perfectly built up threat that is Calvin has a lot to do with that. I never truly knew how safe any of these characters were and ultimately, they never are.

I have to say though, that I have mixed feelings about Calvin’s design. At first, when he’s just a giant amoeba, he has no discernible eyes or features of any kind. The description given is that this thing is all just one eye, brain, and muscle rolled into one little creature. That was imposing, especially since it’s nearly impossible to kill in it’s small size. But as Calvin gets larger, it starts to develop a face and what I made out to be eyes and a mouth. I have to say I’m not sure why this is the case. It goes from a creature without features to make out to having a pissed off face. Why is that? Didn’t I read or hear somewhere that featureless monsters are more frightening than monsters with? Because that way, no one can make out what they’re thinking. Take ALIEN for example. Clearly, the xenomorphs are angry looking monsters. They don’t look the types you could play Mario Kart with. However, they have such an ingenious design that even though they have a clenched-teeth look to them, they make up for it by not having eyes, yet they always knew where their victims were. Calvin started off almost better than that. It has no features to give away how obviously scary it was and it remains that way for most of the movie. But for whatever reason, they decide to eventually give him pissed off, scary features. I feel like there’s no reason for that.

***SPOILERS***

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Quick note on the humor, I find it hilarious that Reynolds is the first to die in this movie. It’s so ironic that the guy who plays Deadpool, a superhero who can’t die and has a sequel coming out next year is playing a character written by the same guys who wrote DEADPOOL is in a movie by them where he’s killed off almost immediately. I feel like there’s a joke to be made that arguably the most A-list white actor in this cast is the first to be killed off and the unknown black guy outlives him. Someone refine this joke. There’s humor to be found.

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***END SPOILERS***

But now we get into my complaints.

It breaks my heart to say this, but Ferguson wasn’t very memorable. Don’t get me wrong, the woman can act the ass off the best of any of her male actors. ROGUE NATION proved that in spades. But it’s sad to see that she was given such a weak role. Everyone seems to have their distinguishing features or traits. Reynolds is funny, Gyllenhaal is anti-social, Hiroyuki Sanada is a new dad, and Ariyon Bakare falls in love with Calvin. Okay, not really, but you remember how much time her spent with Calvin and even somewhat defends its actions. But the women of the movie are staggeringly forgettable. Ferguson is the token hot Swede, and Olga Dihovichnaya is the token hot Russian. Okay, again, not really. Dihovichnaya is the commanding officer of the station and barks orders, Ferguson’s acting does shine through when the camera is on her, but when all is said and done… what do you remember about her character? It’s sad to see her talent pushed to the wayside like that. At least in FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, it made sense because she wasn’t the focus of the story, nor was she a main character. But this was… bleh. Thank God for her talent, otherwise this would have been horrid. Still, Ferguson deserves better, damn it!

But the cardinal sin of the movie… is that it’s TOO SIMILAR TO ALIEN!!! It’s ridiculously distracting!

***SPOILERS***

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I mean, it’s one hostile smart, strong, and nimble alien killing people, hiding in small, claustrophobic places within a large, darkly lit space-faring vehicle, killing people off one by one, someone has a flamethrower to fight it that does nothing to very little against it, and ends with an escape with one person in the escape pod with the alien! The only difference this time is that everyone gets fucked over in the end and, essentially, the alien wins.

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***END SPOILERS***

Overall, I’d say that we’ve got enough ALIEN-type movies coming out, including an actual Alien continuation of sorts with ALIEN COVENANT (2017) on the horizon. So this movie’s existence is only made unique in its humor and irony in casting, and the weight of those details may vary from person to person. While those things prevent me from disliking the movie, and truth be told, it is an intense and well-made film, but… ugh, I can’t keep saying it, or I might explode. If you don’t mind this movie basically being ALIEN, then you’ll be okay. It’s by no means a bad film, but… damn.

My honest rating for LIFE: a strong 3/5

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