Life is directed by Daniel Espinosa and stars big names as Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson who plays astronauts that are looking for life in the universe. When they actually finds life on Mars they take it back to their spaceship/station and begins analysing and testing it. However, when they try to stimulate the alien-lifeform it begins to resist and turns aggressive. From then on the astronauts struggles to survive against the martian’s ferocious nature; a creature that only wants to eat and survive.
Storywise, the plot is intriguing but lacks a bit of originality. It is clear that the movie burrows a lot of inspiration from various sci-fi movies but its focus on quarantining an alien-lifeform was actually an element that distinguishes it from most other of its genre. However, the promotion of the movie as a horror-movie, as the trailers indicated, was quite misplaced. The horror-elements are quite weak and there aren’t many scary or even frightening moments which is quite disappointing if you are looking for a type of movie that resembles the Alien-movies. Life is much more explicit in showing the monster right up front and unfortunately this makes the monster much less frightening. Sure, there are some clever moments of the use of the alien but most of it is simply seeing the astronauts trying to hide or run away with the hunting alien on their heels . It would have been much more scary had they chosen to hide the monster more and only slowly revealing it over the course of the movie. The ending also seems to leave something to be desire. Although twists seems to be quite popular among modern horror-movies, they are often not quite intelligent and are more implemented as shock-effects rather than actually having anything to do the with the rest of the movie. Life doesn’t manage to go beyond that popular sentiment and delivers only a silly twist to the end that made me chuckle more than I was shocked or surprised.
“The horror-elements are quite weak and there aren’t many scary or even frightening moments which is quite disappointing if you are looking for a type of movie that resembles the Alien-movies.”
The acting is fairly solid within the limitations the movies characters has. There are a few interesting elements from characters that are being used cleverly for the plot but the overall picture of the characters is that they are fairly forgettable. It would have been nice had they used character personalities to influence the plot a bit more. Instead the characters are driven by the plot telling them what to do next. On the positive side that also opens up the possibillity to kill characters in any way you like and in any sequence you prefer, which Life suprisingly takes full advantage of. You may not expect it but who actually dies next might not always be the character you think. This element is actually pretty cool and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick should be given credits for such an interesting twist.
“You may not expect it but who actually dies next might not always be the character you think.”
The visuals are stunning even when it doesn’t involve any type of 3D technology. The picture is sharp and the details of space, planets, station and ship is really well done. The no-gravity effects are also quite impressive since it really does look like the actors are experiencing no-gravtity environment although they are moved by wires. However, the alien lacked fear-factor and it is a wonder why the “designers” of the alien actually made a design that was obviously silly. The alien-franchise, Predator, the Thing, all had the element of some sort of scary or sickening feeling about the alien. In Life the alien hasn’t that frightening element at all. It is merely a creature that appears invincible. Nothing seems to be able to kill it which should be scary yet it just makes the movie feel illogical to the degree of being unrealistic.
“The alien lacked fear-factor and it is a wonder why the “designers” of the alien actually made a design that was obviously silly.”
Looking at the the soundtrack, one must say that its use really feels flat. The use of the track utterly falls apart in the understanding of how music can be used in a horror-movie. Simply put, the music is overused in the movie and to such a degree that almost every scene felt like it was forced to have music even when it wasn’t needed. This doesn’t work well since the use of music all the time makes the audience feel tired unless there is great variety in it, and unfortunately Jon Ekstrand fails to provide us with such a score. Also music should be used cleverly in a horror-movie, making a dynamic relationship with the use of no-music. Just look at the Alien-movie where there are several scenes without music, so when they use music to key scenes it has a more dramatic effect. The lack of understanding of this concept in Life is annoying and ruins much of the potential terror-factor in the movie.
“Simply put, the music is overused in the movie and to such a degree that almost every scene felt like it was forced to have music even when it wasn’t needed.”
Most of the criticism can be narrowed down to the movie being promoted as a horror-movie. It seems to have made more sense had they determined it to be a thriller, since there are plenty of thrilling scenes in it but not any scary ones. As it stands now, it simply seemed as they were afraid people wouldn’t want to go watch it if had simply being a sci-fi thriller. Whether this is true or not I cannot help feeling quite disappointed about Life. It is a movie with interesting elements but unfortunately most of it just didn’t live up to my expectations. As a horror-movie it is a big failure but as sci-fi thriller it might have been a solid movie-experience. But due to the my disappointment I cannot go higher than a solid 4.