Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Imagine you’re picked up as a little thing from your home planet and taken care of by kind alien beings. Then one day, something goes wrong in your space and you curl up to protect yourself. You’re then electrocuted, and discover that in a nearby cage is another creature, strapped down and being experimented on. You realise that these kind people are not what they seem. They’re not your friend. You react to protect yourself, and they try to burn you to death. The only way that you can survive is to kill them all.
That’s basically what happens in this film, but it’s not told from your perspective. It’s told from the perspective of the people who kidnapped you.
And that, at heart, is what’s wrong with this film, for me. A bunch of astronauts and scientists in a space ship get a sample of life on Mars and study it. Given glucose and the right conditions, they grow a little animal like creature which is dubbed Calvin. However, before you know it, the creature has turned violent, and is out to kill everyone.
Now, I love that kind of space thriller where people have to survive in impossible odds against a growing evil that stalks them, and where things start to go wrong, building tension. But Calvin looks and acts pretty cute when he’s small. And in reality, they electrocute him and then try to kill him when he reacts to that. That seemed kind of sad to me. I know, they’re trying to protect themselves, but if they hadn’t attacked they probably wouldn’t have needed to defend themselves.
You can of course argue that it might have turned evil anyway, and in reality they just bit off more than they could chew in that space ship, because they didn’t realise the nature of the thing they had taken on board. And the mechanics of surviving on a ship is really well realised, with great moments of things breaking that ratchet up the tension. So, I think a lot of you will enjoy this film and it’s a good thriller.
I just couldn’t get past the idea that at no point did anyone just try to be nice to it, like you might to a frightened dog that was backed into a corner. More sense of development of the bad side of the creature would have made me happy, less of it reaching out with it’s cute little flipper and bonding with the astronaut that it sees as a maternal or parental figure. It’s weird.
See It If: you like space and survival horrors or sci fi you should enjoy this. It’s pretty standard, has thrills and solid performances, and some good scary deaths.