Last Friday I went to see the new science fiction horror film Life directed by Daniel Espinosa, written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds. I must admit that I did not have much expectations, but I quite enjoyed this one.
<<< Warning possible spoilers ahead! >>>
Calvin and Friends
The events take place in the international space station, better know just as ISS. The protagonists of the film are all astronauts and/or scientists who are assigned on the station to study a sample taken from the surface of Mars. The team on the ISS starts to study the sample and soon find out that the specimen is a single cell organism that they manage to revive from its dormant state. The newly found proof of extraterrestrial life is named “Calvin” and as expected the specimen, starts to grown at an astounding rate, but then things start to go wrong…
A small accident, apparently caused by the negligence of one of the scientists, causes Calvin to go into an inanimate state and they try to revive it by giving it electric shocks. Just tiny ones, but Calvin doesn’t particularly like that and attacks one of the scientists. From this point on the movie follows pretty standard space horror plot, but somehow the movie managed to keep me interested up to the last moments of the film. There were some expected plot twists, but also a couple of nice surprises where I really didn’t know what will happen next. It was made clear quite early on that even the actors with more renowned names are not safe from Calvin.
As said, I really liked the movie, but I heard that some of my friends who went to see the movie were tempted to walk out from the theater. I was kind of surprised by this, because I found the film fairly thrilling. After a short discussion I started to understand the reason for their reactions.
First of all, the movie follows the standard pattern of any “trapped in space with a monster” movie or story, but I didn’t find this troubling. Instead it kind of reminded me of the good old sci-fi horror movies like The Thing or Alien. In a good way. Secondly, my friends (and obviously some people on the internet) thought that the scientist were idiots making a mistake or a stupid decision after another. Well, that was true, but unlike in Prometheus, for example, where the characters’ actions seemed to have no sense at all from time to time, the characters in Life acted very humanely and most of their mistakes were because of their shaken emotional state. This was very understandable to me and I did not find this bothering me at all. The characters were mostly scientists and not prepared for anything like what was happening on the station. They were probably in panic or otherwise staggered by the whole situation. They really didn’t have much time to think or recover from the previous events as things kept happening all the time. Calvin was one busy little critter.
I have to give a special mention about the alien creature’s, or Calvin’s, design – it was excellent. A very well designed and executed creature in my opinion. Just alien enough, but still somehow familiar. It seemed to have its own reasoning that had its weird alien logic.
They also managed to keep the creature mysterious enough to keep the audience wondering what kind of abilities it had that were not explained in the movie. I think this was intentional and there to underline the fact that we really didn’t know much about the creature, what it’s capable of or how to kill it and how unprepared we really are to encounter an extra-terrestrial life form. The creature really intrigued me with its alien nature – especially during the final minutes of the movie (which were quite harrowing, by the way).
- A solid science fiction horror movie that obviously has its roots in the old masterpieces like The Thing and Alien.
- Some parts of the movie were not very well outlined and if you missed a glimpse you might not make sense of the rest of the scene.
- Well made claustrophobic feeling through out the movie.
- Interesting alien creature in many ways.
- But be prepared, you might also find this just another space horror film or that the scientists act like idiots 😉