Movie Review: Life

The movie “Life” is one of the few films since 1979 and the release of the movie Alien that has attempted to address the idea of an alien life form that becomes violent on a spaceship and attempts to kill all on board. The main reason why so few, if any movies like this have been made in the last 38 years, is probably because Alien was such a perfect horror movie about Aliens and outer space that has ever been produced. The movie Alien, obviously, is a tough if not impossible act to follow.

Very early in this film, I was surprised that the space station was orbiting the Earth and not Mars as was suggested in some of the previews. One flaw was the point at which scientists aboard this space station suddenly have an alien life form in their laboratory, supposedly from Mars, but it was never really explained how they got the life form, other than the crashing of a space capsule that I assume was coming from Mars. Starting off with something this important to the flow of the story took something away from my understanding and enjoyment of the story because I always wondered once they started experimenting with this one cell microscopic organism, I was still trying to figure out where on Mars the alien was found, and how it was transported from Mars to a space station that was orbiting Earth. Fundamentally, movies about science or science fiction should make some sort of sense and not have glaring holes in the story, especially at the beginning.

This movie has two big stars, Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal and several other less famous actors and the entire film, with the exception of one shot of Time Square in New York city at the beginning, happens inside the space station.  The problems with this film are many, starting with the convoluted and ridiculous ideas the crew come up with to try and kill “Calvin”, which is the name they lead scientist calls his alien. The reason for the name “Calvin” was also never explained, along with many other important details. Over time, Calvin grows bigger as he kills a mouse and members of the crew and starts to look like a combination of a jellyfish and an octopus. If there is life somewhere in the universe other than Earth, we can definitely believe that some variation of a creature like this could exist.

Even in the beginning of this movie, the way these genius level scientists handle this alien creature, by touching it with a rubber glove made no sense, because you just know that no one would ever be so relaxed with their scientific examination of an unknown alien creature. It is one thing to put yourself in danger because of the risky environment and reality of space travel, but way too many times, stupid decisions that made absolutely no sense were both idiotic and infuriating to sit through. There was no common sense here, no scientific validity and almost no decisions that super intelligent people would actually make. One incident, in particular, is when one of the female astronauts goes outside the space station in an attempt to try and kill or trap the alien that had escaped from inside. This entire idea and the events that followed during this scene probably are one some of the stupidest ideas I have ever seen in any science fiction movie. Why this entire scene wasn’t scrapped in a conference room or somewhere on a cutting floor in Hollywood is a mystery. Why was this woman spacewalking outside with a dangerous alien? What was she trying to accomplish? This entire scene just made no sense.

The ending of this movie had a very similar feel to the end of Alien which is understandable, but the build up and convoluted trick ending the writer and director tried to pull off I saw coming a mile away. The movie Life is a pale imitation of Alien and due to the many inane plot ideas with so many decisions by the astronauts and scientists on board the space station that were downright ridiculous, I cannot recommend this movie.

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