Cynicism and Space Horror - 'Life' Movie Review

Updated on June 17, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie movies. Pessimistic and survival films I also enjoy a lot.

“An alien civilization reading one of our messages could be billions of years ahead of us. If so, they will be vastly more powerful, and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”

The quote is from Stephen Hawking, at a time where he seems to be speaking more from the standpoint of a sci-fi movie spectator than a knowledge-hungry scientist. The fear of the imminent unknown has been a recurring theme in sci-fi, especially that which flirts with horror.

In Life, there is space horror, the dark mix of claustrophobia and agoraphobia, empathic humans and a hostile extraterrestrial creature growing and ripping crew members apart.

Yes, Life is an absurdly obvious derivative Alien movie. But it's a worthy derivative Alien movie. With small changes to the formula, a talented cast and a smart direction by Daniel Espinosa, Life does enough to make the viewer end up with a solid "not bad" face, which is way more than commercial movies achieve these days.

The story, by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, begins positively, without a dystopia or a dramatic Space challenge necessary for the survival of the human race. This is a healthy NASA scientific mission, which goal is receiving and analyzing a probe containing soil sample from Mars.

Our crew is small but with personality. There is Sho (Hiroyuki Sanada who already played another version of this character in Sunshine), Miranda (Rebecca Ferguson), Katerina (Olga Dihovichnaya), Hugh (Ariyon Bakare), Rory (Ryan Reynolds) and David (Jake Gyllenhaal). One Japanese, two Americans, two British and one Russian. They're the scientific, so-called "first world" vanguard of the humanity.

The sample arrives and our crew discovers life in a small cell that quickly grows into a small multi-celled organism. Thanks to a cute contest between American schools back on earth, the organism receives the adorable name of "Calvin".

That, along with the title of the film are the only dark humor attempts by Reese and Wernick, who, distancing themselves of the tone of previous works like Zombieland and Deadpool, use in Life the opportunity to explore drama, horror, and cruelty. In other words: They get quite creative torturing our protagonists.

Because, of course, Calvin keeps growing. Quickly, it surprises the whole crew with an impressively hostile attitude and an advanced intelligence capable of solving problems and overcoming obstacles.

Unlike Alien, in Life there are no androids or artificial intelligence enforcing the greed of a multinational Weyland-Yutani-like corporation. If anything, NASA wants nothing to do with Calvin if hostile. In that respect, Life is more pure and simpler. This is a battle between two species that in order to survive need to extinguish the life of the other.

What's Your Rating For Life?

See results

The crew not only wants to survive the threat but wants to make sure that Calvin never crosses Earth's atmosphere. That dramatic tension is remarkably engaging and makes us forget, for a while, the existence of the many other vastly superior space horror films.

At some point, Hugh glimpses the undeveloped motif of the film in one of his philosophical musings / weird parental love for Calvin: "Life's very existence requires destruction." It's a deeply cynical phrase that leaves no room for sustainable development, much less for extraterrestrial contact.

And that's where Life gets its place (a small place, but a place anyway) in the pantheon of "quality-approved" films. Espinosa pushes the pedal to the metal into the cruelest horror and doesn't look back. The outcome, scored by Jon Ekstrand from the depths of hell, is a cheap but wonderfully effective blow.

Movie Details

Title: Life

Release Year: 2017

Director(s): Daniel Espinosa

Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds a.o.

3 stars for LIfe (2017)

© 2019 Sam Shepards

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)