Anyone who has seen Alien and its numerous sequels/prequels has a good idea what they can expect from Daniel Espinosa’s space-thriller titled Life. While it does contain plenty of cliches from the genre, there’s still enough thrills and chills to keep things interesting and viewers glued to their seats until the disturbing finale.
As with any good horror film setup, this story follows a group of astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) that have all sorts of quirks and personalities that often clash with each other, but they still manage to work together for the most part. There’s British biologist Dr. Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare), American medical officer Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), British quarantine officer Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), Japanese pilot Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada), Russian commander Ekaterina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya) and system engineer Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds). Their job is to study and examine a recovered sample of dirt from Mars for any signs of life. They get more than they bargained for when they discover an organism in the sample that they decide to fed with nutrients, which causes it to grow into a creature that’s part brain and part muscle they name Calvin. It isn’t long before Calvin wants out of their studies and starts attacking the crew one by one, which leads the crew to do everything they can from keeping Calvin from killing them and making its way to Earth.
I’m a sucker for a good horror film, and Life manages to hit all the right buttons to keep you interested and freaked out as you watch. One thing I really liked about the movie is Calvin and how it’s grounded in hardcore Sci-fi that makes coming across an organism that’s equal parts brain and muscle that’s been dormant in space not such a far-fetched possibility. The actors also do a great job with their roles, right down to Ryan Reynolds being the cocky hot-shot engineer. It’s also kind of fun to see who will survive as the crap hits the fan and the crew starts getting picked off due to bad decisions or just bad luck. The visuals and audio are high definition goodness and make watching this film feel like a thrill ride thanks to the nice details of the picture and sound.
The special features are a bit on the light side, but still offer some nice looks into the making of the movie and more. “Life: In Zero G” has the cast and crew discussing the challenges of shooting the movie with zero-gravity effects and more, “Creating Life: The Art and Reality of Calvin” goes into my personal favorite thing, the making of Calvin and how the filmmakers tried to make a scientifically accurate alien, “Claustrophobic Terror: Creating a Thriller in Space” goes into being trapped on a space station with a monster and how it plays into generating thrills and chills, “Astronaut Diaries” is a fun extra that has the cast in character making videos about their lives aboard the space station, and lastly there’s some deleted scenes that show off alternate takes and edits that were left on the cutting room floor.
Those who love the Alien films and any sci-fi in general will get their kicks from Life. If you’re like me and don’t mind the cliches that come with the genre, and you’re just looking for something interesting yet a bit terrifying to watch, you’ll want to make a run to your nearest space station and dock with this film.