There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
A group of astronauts and scientists aboard the international space station have made a ground breaking discovery. In a sample from Mars, they have discovered life. The life form is small, and it has been in hibernation on Mars’ cold surface, but it has awakened while aboard the space station. Overwhelmed with excitement over their discovery, and overwhelmed with curiosity of the small life form, the team does not consider the possibility that the life form may be dangerous.
However, it turns out that this little alien is actually very dangerous and it absolutely should not be underestimated. It seems that the organism, and other organisms of its species, may have been responsible for a mass extinction on Mars, and now it is alive and well aboard the international space station. The organism is gaining intelligence rapidly, and it is growing more and more dangerous. Trapped with this monster, the crew must find a way to contain or eliminate the organism before it makes its way to Earth.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Premise (+4pts)
The Alien (-4pts)
The Cast (+4pts)
The Characters (-6pts)
The Horror & The Intensity (+5pts)
Bad Decisions (-4pts)
Pro: The Premise (+4pts)
This movie’s premise was simple, and it was one of the best things going for this movie. A killer alien was let loose on a space station where there was really no escape. We have seen this premise before with Alien, but unlike Alien, Life was not an action movie by any stretch of the imagination. This movie focused almost entirely on the horror aspect of this premise.
Yes there was plenty of horror in Alien, but it was just as much an action movie as it was a horror. I will get into what I liked about the horror in Life later, but know that the horror was definitely the filmmaker’s focus here. The premise was simple. It was a horror, monster movie, but by being set on a spaceship, there was no escape for the protagonists. This concept worked so well, because the protagonists could not run even if they wanted to. They could also hide for as long as they want, but they eventually needed to confront what was hunting them if they were to have any hope of making it back to Earth alive. It was a simple idea, and while it has been done before, it was still effective here.
Con: The Alien (-4pts)
The alien itself was a bit too ridiculous for me. It was like this little, killer-goo thing, that was extremely strong, and it was virtually invincible. This did not work for me for a few different reasons. The first was its size, appearance, and strength. It felt like there was a disconnect between its strength, versus its size and appearance. The thing was visually non-threatening, but it was strong enough to throw crew members around and absolutely dominate them physically. This disconnect made its interactions with humans feel more silly than scary.
The next issue I had was that the alien was essentially invincible. The writers, or filmmakers in general, made the alien impervious to pretty much everything. This was clearly meant to make the thing feel dangerous, and it did, but it was overkill to the point where it felt like the characters in the movie had absolutely no chance of survival. Part of the thrill in a horror movie comes from the hope that the characters might survive, even if their odds are small. If there is no chance of escape whatsoever, and the monster is basically unkillable, that hope is gone. That was the case with this movie, and it took away a lot of the movie's thrill. I was literally watching the movie, wondering why I should care about the characters or this story, because the characters were all clearly doomed.
Pro: The Cast (+4pts)
The cast in Life made this movie a lot better for a couple reasons. The first reason was the actors’ talent, and the second reason was their fame. Their talent helped, because while the story was supposed to be intense, that intensity would not have worked if the actors did not deliver. They had to act alongside a little, CGI glob, and act as if the thing was terrifying and capable of slaughtering them mercilessly. The actors delivered the intensity they needed to, and it made the premise feel believable enough to keep me watching.
The next thing that the cast brought to the movie was their fame. Their fame helped the movie in a couple ways. First, their fame got me to watch the movie and it made the feel more like a real, Hollywood movie—as opposed to the kind of movie that would have gone straight to the Syfy channel. The fame also helped keep me watching. It was an entertaining cast, and I really had not seen any of them in a movie like this before. I kept watching, mostly out of curiosity, to see what they could bring to their characters and how they would do in a horror movie like this one.
Con: The Characters (-6pts)
To put it simply, the characters of this story had little to no character development. I felt like the actors tried to give their characters as much personality as they could, but the characters ultimately suffered from bad writing. In a horror movie—or really any movie—you are supposed to have some connection with the characters in the story. For horror movies, you are supposed to care about whose lives are at stake. However, when the writers spend no time developing their characters, there is nothing for the audience to connect with. It was unfortunate, but despite having well-known, talented actors in these roles, I did not care about a single character in this movie. They were just nameless, random bodies for an alien to hunt.
Pro: The Horror & The Intensity (+5pts)
This movie had some decent horror and it was certainly intense. Will it leave you scared after the movie is over? No, but it was decent enough to keep me watching. The majority of the movie consisted of an incredibly dangerous and powerful alien that was hunting a bunch of scientists in a poorly lit space station. The movie had plenty of horror and intense moments, and while it was not the scariest or most intense horror movie that you will see, it was enough to satisfy my horror craving for the evening.
Con: Bad Decisions (-4pts)
This was one of those movies in which the entire plot relied heavily on its characters making bad decisions. I cannot stand when filmmakers do this, and the excuse is usually that the character is either dumb or not great under pressure. I usually find this annoying, but it was exceptionally bad in this movie. These characters were supposed to be scientists and astronauts. They were characters who would have gone through extensive evaluation to prove their mental stability, and they would have been among the best in their respective areas of expertise, if they were chosen to go to space. However, with all of that being said, these characters repeatedly made bad decisions and there was no reason for it within the context of this story. The bad decision making contradicted who the characters were, as well as their experience and how they became astronauts.
Grade: C- (74pts)
Life did not have a unique or original premise, but it was an effective one. We have seen this premise before with Alien and the movies in that franchise, but while those movies were action-horror, this movie leaned even more toward the horror. The cast was filled with talented, well-known actors, who were unusual choices for a movie like this. The cast delivered decent performances, and they made the movie feel intense and believable—despite how ridiculous the monster was. Unfortunately, the movie had its share of issues.
The alien was a bit too ridiculous, as its size and appearance were almost as ridiculous as the fact that the filmmakers made the thing virtually indestructible. This made it hard for me to care about the characters, because I felt like they were doomed. Giving the characters a fighting chance would have gone a long way in making me care about the characters, but the characters were also just written really poorly. They got little to no development, so I was not invested in any of them, and the filmmakers resorted to using their poor decision making as a lazy way to keep the plot moving—when these scientists and astronauts who should have known better. This was a simple premise, with a surprisingly talented cast, but the filmmakers dropped the ball with the writing. The intensity and horror were there, but there was not much to tie it together in an engaging or impactful way.
Michael115 on August 14, 2019:
Wow! Now I am excited to see idiots get their faces munched on. But there's still one more movie in theaters for me to see. Once that's out of the way I will catch up on older movies.
Movie Beasts (author) from MA on August 14, 2019:
Agreed! At some point you stop feeling bad, cause you think they kind of deserve it
Michael115 on August 13, 2019:
It's always nice to have a movie to sit back, relax, and watch a bunch of idiots get massacred!
Movie Beasts (author) from MA on August 13, 2019:
Hahaha, yeah that’s this movie in a nutshell. Don’t worry, you won’t care about anyone on board
Michael115 on August 13, 2019:
An indestructible alien on board a ship and an idiotic crew? Guess I will check this movie out when I feel like watching a bunch of crew members get eaten by a monster.