Life (Blu-ray) – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Duration: 104 minutes

Life (Blu-ray) – Movie Review

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8.7
Good: really tense
Bad: ending is predictable
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‘The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.’ Is the title of the movie. At least the shortened version of it is, which is ‘Life’. The reason that the first isn’t the actual title is because you’d want the image on the poster to speak instead of the whole paragraph that’s the title. Also, sometimes one short word can convey a lot more than a whole book. Hilarity can ensue if someone boots this movie up when they are looking for a nature documentary.

Life_Logo

Life starts off quite tranquil. There’s a vessel speeding through space being pelted with debris. Before long it’s obvious that this is the payload that’ll start the conflict in the movie. The vessel carries samples from Mars and it’s vital that they are procured. As they probably contain proof of life on a different planet. It’s up to Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds) to go out of the ISS and grab the speeding vessel out of orbit.

Life_03One tense scene later, the success is celebrated and he’s welcomed back by the crew. So far, so good. The soil is tested and put into petri dishes. After some fiddling with the atmosphere in the container, the cell that is contained in the soil awakens from its dormancy. Very much to the amusement of Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare). The crew finds out that the cell grows at rather a fast rate and realise sooner rather than later that the creatures is three things combined. The cells of which it is built are muscle, brain and eye cells all in one. Hugh sees the potential in this as it might make stem cell research obsolete. This is the first time the movie makes you do a double take as you learn something about Hugh that isn’t obvious from the moment you see him. It’s something to do with the setting and the director and screenwriters did a perfect thing in hiding it in plain sight. Before long Hugh makes a mistake and the atmosphere in the container is messed up and the creature goes dormant again, after having grown a significant amount. The crew is on edge after their failure, and the stress is obvious.

Life_06The writing is really decent because at no point do the characters fall out of their role. They know their duty and they act accordingly. It’s not like a normal thriller or sci/fi flick where you are screaming at the screen because they do something completely inane that ends up getting them killed. Most of the actions in Life done by the characters are done in coordination between their orders and protocol and their human side wanting do help.

When talking about acting, there’s not a single actor in the list that doesn’t feel like a real person acting out on orders while still retaining a form of personality. Life doesn’t really give the crew a ‘personal growth arch’ but it focuses more on the tension as it builds as the crew struggles to survive and make sure Calvin doesn’t make it out alive. So trying to make you relate to every character would make the movie feel too bloated for its own good. Which luckily the writers and the director didn’t do.

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The musical score in Life is a bit hit and miss. There are moments where the director and the screenwriter nail the atmosphere and really cash in on the emotional moments. Only to set the viewers teeth on edge with a dramatic score in the more suspenseful scenes. There are however some moments where the music seems to drown out the essence of the scene, which might leave some viewers with a more melodramatic sensation than was intended.

When it comes to the alien lifeform, you can rejoice as the screenwriters didn’t opt for the whole ‘space is dark and they are in a confined territory so we won’t put effort into animating the critter’. The cool part is that the movie isn’t less tense because you aren’t denied a view and have to fantasize half of the horror. Often when this is done the movie heavily relies on jump scares to get a rise out of the viewers, which is not the case in Life. If you really want to be immersed into the experience, then it’s best to put the volume to full blast, switch off the lights and grip the armrests of your seat. That being said, the Blu-ray edition does come with a decent amount of special features, albeit all along the lines of making of material. Nonetheless, these featurettes are rather interesting to plow through if you enjoyed the movie as a whole.

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Conclusion

Move over Alien, Life is here and the writers didn’t make the characters so stupid that they’d go out and hold their face over an obviously alien egg sack to get munched on. It’s tense, the characters actually follow orders and stupidity is punished. Making the following events even all the more harrowing as they are actually fighting with sense and purpose, which makes their battle seem all the more futile as the movie progresses. Definitely give Life a chance if you are looking for a Sci-Fi thriller that doesn’t pull its punches.

 

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