Bullet Points: Life
I was telling a co-worker how I started watching Life the other day and he immediately started quoting lines from the hilariously underrated 1999 movie starring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence. It was a great guess on his part because I do really like that movie but at that moment I was talking about the sci-fi thriller from last year starring a bunch of people recently on the cover of People Magazine. Two very different movies…two very different experiences.
Synopsis: A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars and now threatens all life on Earth.
- Life in Space: The opening of the movie finds us onboard the ISS with a half-dozen attractive scientists and astronauts. The definitely grouped together some really good actors as Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, and Ryan Reynolds. There was also a Russian chick by the name of Olga Dykhovichnaya on the station but not many of the characters made much of an impact. We briefly see them living in space before a sample of soil from Mars is brought on the station for Bakare to study.
- Dude….really?: Just like all those other scientists who let their curiosity get the best of them, Bakare essentially ends up “befriending” this alien lifeform that quickly grows into a little tentacled thing and starts showing signs of aggressive behavior. So aggressive, in fact, that the entire movie is about it murdering everyone on board the space station. That’s pretty damn aggressive!
- Ryan: IMDB told me that Ryan Reynolds was originally supposed to be playing the main male lead but had to take a lesser role because of his film The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Not only have I not seen The Hitman’s Bodyguard, but I also haven’t given two shits about Ryan Reynolds since I discovered that he has played the same character since Van Wilder. Yeah, he makes some good cracks from time to time. And he’s married to a very lovely lady. But when I see Ryan Reynolds playing some sort of astronaut I’m really just waiting for him to start making wise-ass remarks. “Oh wait, it only took about 90 seconds of screen time before he did!” I, for one, was happy that Jake Gyllenhaal was in this movie. There may be no male star in Hollywood more depressing than him.
- Calvin is an asshole: Okay, technically he’s a Martian asshole. The alien is named Calvin after a young girl named him after her elementary school which bore the name of former POTUS Calvin Coolidge. This Calvin shows his gratitude to the ISS crew by wrapping his tentacled body around them and attempting to squeeze the life out of them. He’s clearly smarter than anyone expected he would be as he quickly adapts to his environment; seeking out areas which provide him warmth and other things that Martians dig. I thought the look of the alien was rather generic but Stan Winston is dead now and they must have blown their massive budget trying to convince people that this wasn’t “Van Wilder in Space”.
- The Battle for Space Supremacy: The film was obviously influence by Alien. I’m not breaking any news there, so if you’re a fan of Alien you’ll probably dig the atmosphere of the film. The visuals of the movie are quite good and the performances are fine but the movie is just missing something. The alien never really felt that menacing to me. They try to burn it at one point but quickly realize that they’re mostly just burning through their oxygen. Mostly… Then they just kind of give up and revert into “retreat mode”. A real space movie would have had at least one lightsaber on board that space station! The characters are also so forgettable that I basically only knew them as their gender or ethnicity for the duration of the film. There was “the black guy”, “the Russian chick”, “the Japanese dude”, and “Deadpool”. Each character was allotted about 5 minutes of development during the movie so we only learn enough about the characters to meet them but never enough to truly care about them.
No one can hear you scream in space but they better be able to read these bonus Bullet Points:
- I knew Hiroyuki Sanada was going to die the moment they showed he just became a father.
- Do they have flame throwers on the space station? If so, why do they have flame throwers on the space station? I feel like there would be a number of better alternatives to a flame thrower if you were in need of protection on the ISS.
- At no point in my life did I ever want to be an astronaut. I like space as much as the next person but I would be much more interested in exploring the deep parts of the ocean.
The Verdict: Life is the kind of movie that is entertaining but still falls short of what you might want. It has an amazing cast, excellent direction and cinematography, and all those other bells and whistles that makes a movie look brilliant on screen but it falls short when it comes to making the characters ones in which you actually care about. Every time someone died I just shrugged it off. I saw a few articles praising the movie for its “twists” but I thought it was a lame attempt to make this movie memorable. It looks great, is a decent watch, but ultimately a good-not great movie that I’ll probably never watch again.