Life

I wasn’t really expecting much from Life. The trailers didn’t really excite me even though I’m a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds, and I love a good sci-fi film. It looked like an Alien ripoff. But I was willing to give this movie a chance because I like the cast so much. After seeing it, I’m a little bit disappointed because so much potential was wasted with this generic film.

Life is about this group of astronauts on the international space station  who discover extraterrestrial life in the form of a large single cell organism. The single cell rapidly grows and this ‘alien’ proves to be a nasty piece of work for the crew. I liked most of the main characters in this movie. Jake Gyllenhaal is the best part of this film. He is great as Dr David Jordan (a doctor who has been on the ISS for over 400 days). I think Jake Gyllenhaal is great in most of his movies, and this is no different. He is very believable in the role, and seems to make less stupid decisions than the rest of the crew. Also Rebecca Ferguson is good as Dr Miranda North. She isn’t as good as she was in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, but she is one of the highlights of this film. However her character is supposed to be from the CDC, and I think she wasn’t great at her job. However I think the reason the alien got out of its cage (so to speak) wasn’t her fault. Ryan Reynolds character and Arizona Bakares character should take the blame for that. Talking about Ryan Reynolds, he was also very good in the movie but I’m surprised about the length of the role. The trailers made him out to be the main character and that isn’t really the case, Rebecca Ferguson and Jake Gyllenhaal are the leads. However he does steal the scenes he is in and he is probably the most likeable and coolest character in the film.

The only actor I really didn’t like in the movie was Arizona Bakare. I think it was because his character made some horrible decisions and was the root cause of the aliens escape. The actor was good when it came to small character moments (there’s one scene with his character where he is talking to Rebecca Ferguson’s character that I really liked), but I think he’s stupidity really made him quite dislikable. The other two characters were good as well, but both of them had stupid moments especially towards the end.

The cinematography was quite cool, but nothing really amazing. Some of the shots (especially the opening shot of the space station) are absolutely beautiful, but most of the time, the movie looks like a generic space station. That’s not too bad though, because it would have been off-putting if the space station didn’t look the way it did. The alien seemed to look weirder and weirder as the movie progressed, and it started to look a bit like a squid, but that didn’t really bother me too much. The main thing that bothered me about the movie was how predictable it was. There were a couple of big twists in the third act which I could see from a mile away. They were so obvious! However I think the start of the movie did build so good tension, and the movie only got super predictable towards the third act. The predictable nature of the movie really hurt the ending as you knew what was going to happen. It wasted a lot of potential for this movie to be something original or different.

The film is quite gory as the alien does the predictable alien thing. It’s a bit disgusting at times but it’s quite cool how it’s done. I also liked the alien POV shots in the film. It had a weird tinge towards the edges but it looked cool and reminded me a little bit of Jaws.  Also there were a couple of boring moments in the film, but the action scenes with the alien made up for those moments of downtime.

Before seeing this movie, I’d heard rumours online that this was a venom prequel. It isn’t but I wasn’t really expecting the rumour to be true in the first place. However Sony could have made a couple of small changes (in a similar way to 10 Cloverfield Lane) and the venom twist could have saved the ending for me. I’m a comic book fan and my sister is a huge Spider-Man fan so if the alien turned out to be the venom symbiote I would have been geeking out. I also might have walked out of the cinema thinking the movie wasn’t a waste of time. It wasn’t a venom prequel, so I walked out of the cinema thinking Life wasn’t bad, but I felt like I’d wasted about two hours watching it.

Overall, Life isn’t a bad movie but I wouldn’t recommend you seeing it in cinemas. If you like Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, or Ryan Reynolds it might be a good rental for you. Also if you like sci-fi or have nothing else to watch, Life is probably going to be an ok rental. The characters make some stupid decisions and it is a bit predictable, but the first half has some good moments of tension. Also the alien has some cool scenes. However I think it would have been better if changes had been made ot the script to make it more memorable.

Overall I’d give Life a 2.75/5 . It’s an average film but the performances are quite good and there are good elements to it. However it’s so predictable and wastes so much potential, you’ll just be thinking about what could have been.

Chelsea Baines covers Entertainment for MFST, you can follow her on Twitter @ChelseaBaines

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