There is nothing specifically original about the film Life, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds. Honestly, it is very much similar to a little film called Alien that came out a few years ago. However, just because the films are similar, it does not mean that this film is not worth the time to see it.
In Life, several scientists have collected soil samples from Mars and they discovered a microscopic life form that proved the existence of life beyond the earth. These scientists continued to research the life form, watching it grow. Things turn on them when the life form attacks one of the scientists, escapes from its isolation and goes on attack.
Of course, if you have ever seen one of these movies before, you know what is going to happen. The creature, which has been dubbed “Calvin,” goes about killing the members of the crew.
Strengths of Life: Well, the film looks tremendous. It is a gorgeous setting that really helps create the tension of the scenes. And there is a ton of tension involved here. This is certainly a horror/thriller and it ramps up the anxiety from the moment Calvin escapes from its Petri dish. The film does an admirable job of creating the claustrophobic feel of beings in tight spaces and in imminent danger. The tone of the film is extremely well done and should keep you on the edge of your seat.
However, there are some distinctly dull moments as well (most of the time prior to the escape of Calvin) that create a stark contrast with other parts of the film. Once the organism frees itself, the pace definitely picked up.
Another issue is that none of these characters were developed very deeply. We have a few character details provided, but mostly, these characters are disposable. Even with the talented cast that this film can brag about, these actors can only do so much.
Jake Gyllenhaal is fine in his role. His character of David Jordan is on the way to becoming the longest living person in space. That’s about all we know of him. Ryan Reynolds’ Rory is the smart alack. Hiroyuki Sanada (from LOST, Revenge and The Wolverine) played Sho, whose wife gave birth to a child. Rebecca Ferguson was the woman on the ship. As you can tell, these characters are not deeply distinguishable.
Calvin looked pretty good, though it did really remind me of the facehuggers from Alien. I would have preferred for it not to look so alike, especially before it grew into the larger creature that it did. The appearance of Calvin only reinforced the notion that this was too similar to the Alien series of movies.
Despite this, I was engaged by the film and found myself nervous as Calvin was bouncing freely around the space station. Not to spoil anything, but I saw the ending coming a mile away, but that does not take away from a pretty solid little thriller that successfully plays on the fear of the unknown.