Life is a sci-fi thriller with a stellar cast and a big budget to allow an outer space based plot. It may offer nothing new to viewers of this genre, but where it manages to impress is in keeping you at the edge of your seat throughout the run-time, and in its unexpected twist.
The movie follows a team of scientists on the International Space Station, trying to revive a biological life-form they discovered on Mars. Its rapid evolution impresses them only until they learn of its hostility and that it was what caused the extinction of Mars. The rest of the movie is a war between the crew and the creature, as they try to prevent it from killing any of them and try to keep it from entering Earth.
I am not an avid watcher of horror movies and this was one of the first ones I’ve watched with an alien monster. I found it engaging but I’m very sure there have been a lot of similar movies in the genre and this would seem banal to viewers more invested in the genre. The science in the movie is laughable, and oddly always convenient to the alien, and the whole premise of the movie that scientists would presume such an uncertain life form to be innocuous and allow it to grow in a multi-billion dollar international investment in space without better security measures, is ridiculous. What seemed stranger was that NASA on Earth is hardly seen giving any assistance or advice to these space-bound astronauts; they seem to use their own judgement and experience for every decision they make, even when they have contact with the ground station. Space is a deadly place and there ought to be more obstacles for both, the monster and the humans, none of which the movie gets into. The movie feels like a confluence of Alien and Gravity, but leaves out the best of both.
Being new to this genre, I was gripped right from when the alien shows up, and up until somewhere in between the second half of the movie, where it starts to get monotonous and also starts to look like the alien can just about do anything. The visual effects tends play a key role for a movie about an alien creature set in space, and the movie pulls it off beautifully, never overdoing anything. As a result, it manages to elicit pleasure while watching the beautiful images of space, and deep loathing while watching the alien creature. One of the major strengths of the movie is its ending, which I was surprised by, and felt it definitely compensated for anything else the movie may have done wrong. Among the cast, Ryan Reynolds, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya are impressive as experienced members of the crew. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a doctor who has been on the spaceship the longest and claims to prefer space to earth. He brings depth to his character, especially in a scene where he gives up all hope and recites a children’s classic, ‘Good night Moon’. To Gyllenhaal’s and the director’s credit, this scene turns out to be the most chilling and poignant in the movie. But it’s Rebecca Ferguson who stands out among all the cast, playing a determined Captain on the ship, responsible for everyone’s safety and making sure the alien doesn’t make it to Earth at any cost.
Life is a sci-fi movie that may not have a great deal to offer in terms of its plot, but it’s engaging, has a great cast, and has a great ending. I will rate it 8/10. Do watch it.