If you like space films and you like horror then you’ll probably like Life. Starring Jason Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson, Life tells the story of the crew of an International Space Station that pick up soil samples that supposedly contain traces of extraterrestrial life.
Unsurprisingly, it does and inevitably things don’t go so smoothly and chaos ensues form there on in. The star studded crew go head to head with Calvin (Yeah, that’s really his name) and the age old battle between man and alien ensues. All we were missing was a badass Sigourney Weaver with a flamethrower. The imagery is solid and believable, if not exactly groundbreaking. In this regard it does not quite reach the heights of Gravity or Interstellar nor does the tension live up to that of Alien. However, it does manage to merge these quite nicely.
The tension is certainly there with plenty of genuine scares and the cast are predictably excellent. However, there was a sense that this film wanted to be more than it actually was. What we had was a well made extra terrestrial horror but there was an obvious and sometimes irritating attempt to make a more profound, even physiologically challenging film that tests the mind and suggests deeper meaning. It didn’t quite manage to achieve this feat and their attempt just lead to confusing scenes. Nobody wants to be thinking about the meaning of life, or whatever it was they were trying to convey, while there’s a giant alien monster on the loose. This attempt to be more sophisticated often comes across as pretentious if not done right. There’s nothing wrong with a good old fashion thriller with little redeeming value. It’s quite a frustrating thing that we see in many films and one wanders where this obsession with the complicated comes from.
This criticism does not mean that Life is not an enjoyable. It’s the kind of movie you’d watch with a big bowl of popcorn and some cold beers but not the physiologically challenging one that it feels it was meant to be. Jake Gyllenhaal is always good to watch and lifts any film he’s in. There are plenty of scary moments and the clash between human and alien is very well done. This film won’t change your life or even really give you much perspective but it’s definitely worth a watch.