Review: LIFE (2017) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 20 March 2017

Review: LIFE (2017)

Review: LIFE (2017)

Following the retrieval of an unknown specimen from Mars, the six-person crew (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichanaya and Hiroyuki Sanada) aboard the International Space Station soon discovered the lifeform turns out to be a hostile alien being.


REVIEW: From the one-word title to the overall premise (the enclosed setting on the outer space setup, the small crew, the unknown lifeform...), just about everything in LIFE screams ALIEN. Frankly, this isn't a surprise at all, especially given the fact screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick of the ZOMBIELAND and DEADPOOL fame happen to be both fans of Ridley Scott's 1979 aforementioned seminal sci-fi classic. But most of us movie enthusiasts would know that any sci-fi genre tries to emulate the same ALIEN formula whether directly or indirectly, often resulted into either of the three common criticisms: "clone", "rip-off' or "pales in comparison".

While LIFE does bear most of the identical DNA of ALIEN, the movie is surprisingly decent enough on its own. Daniel Espinosa, best known for directing EASY MONEY (2010) and SAFE HOUSE (2012), may have been a first-timer in the sci-fi territory but he does prove his worth in handling some of the movie's genuine suspenseful moments and elaborate set-pieces. Case in point: An extended scene in the lab that includes the tiny alien lifeform starts attacking Ariyon Bakare's Huge Derry and Ryan Reynolds' Roy Adams' desperate attempt to fry the alien lifeform vigorously with a flamethrower.

Review: LIFE (2017)

Technical-wise, the seamless special effects by Industrial Light & Magic is top-notch while Seamus McGarvey's cinematography is both gorgeous and visually engaging. At one point, McGarvey even achieved a bravura, albeit CG-assisted single-take scene during the opening minutes where the movie introduces each of the characters around the space station. The creature effects are also worth noting here, which started off as a single-celled lifeform before it gradually mutated into a starfish-like alien being that possesses strong grips with a level of otherworldly intelligence.

As for the screenplay, LIFE is as straightforward as it goes. Reese and Wernick certainly honour the classical setup, pacing as well as the story beat of ALIEN. It is also a refreshing change of pace for these screenwriting duo to ditch their usual blend of in-jokes and pop-culture references seen in ZOMBIELAND and DEADPOOL in favour for a more serious-minded sci-fi movie territory. Kudos also go to Reese and Wernick for subverting some of the movie's otherwise predictable outcomes, which include the death of the first character and a pessimistic twist towards the end.

But LIFE could have been better if not for the movie's over-reliance of paying homage to ALIEN. At times, it's hard to shake off that déjà vu feeling of "have we seen this before?"-kind of derivative moments. Despite the committed performances by the small-scale ensemble cast all around, none of them really achieved a certain degree of above-average acting prowess beyond their dutiful roles.

Although LIFE borrows heavily from ALIEN, this otherwise generic space thriller remains adequate enough as a suspenseful genre picture with arresting visuals and an attractive cast.

1 comment:

Karen said...

With all the garbage films Hollywood is rebooting nowadays, even if this was an Alien remake I'd be running to the theaters to see it. Alien is a movie well worth a reboot.