Film Reviews

Life (2017)

Life 2017

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.

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12 thoughts on “Life (2017)”

  1. There was an absence of Life between the ears of the scriptwriter.
    How exactly did the critter know it was being taken? How did it know to SPOILER ALERT SORT OF steer in the opposite direction?
    The whole ‘damn, it’s just so smart and we’re just dumb humans’ routine is getting worked pretty hard. At least Ripley managed to score a win or two, back in the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review. I was really let down by this film. The story seems recycled, the characters were flat. I thought they tried to pour too much heroism/martyrdom into Gyllenhal’s character without enough motivation. It didn’t work for me at all.

    Like

  3. I enjoyed this film and thought it had a lot of potential. I enjoyed your take on why the astronauts never tried to befriend Calvin especially since they enhanced him then tried to destroy him once he got larger. That is an interesting point that never crossed my mind when I viewed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like the Lovecraftian approach they took with this film. I’m not sure Kelvin has the potential to be good because he ruthlessly kills the lab mouse. He then relentlessly pursues the astronauts without making any attempts to hide from them, but I can see where the argument that he is trying to survive stems from. Overall, I like the movie, but I like the ending in particular. I like movies that aren’t afraid to give us a shocking ending.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That intro for your review totally had me hooked πŸ˜€ It was a really nice set up. I’ve seen this movie get a lot of mixed reviews. Some people loved it, some people hated it. Reading through this post, I think I would probably have just about the same response that you have had. Still, I am going to be watching this, as it is sci-fi/survival horror stuff,and that’s something I usually like a lot. Thanks for another great post 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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