By Miles Barber (CE ‘18)
Life is about a group of scientists at the International Space Station (ISS) who discover cellular life from soil samples on Mars. This lifeform is studied and nurtured aboard the ISS, growing rapidly. But when one of the scientists shocks it in an attempt to revive it after an accident, it attacks. The rest of the film is about how the remaining scientists try to contain this creature and ultimately try to survive.
Life is a competently made film: The performances are fine, the production value is pretty high, the effects and sound design are all very good. What holds this film back is its lackluster writing, which never seeks to add anything new to a premise that has been spawning films for over thirty-five years. There are moments of suspense, for sure, and the film is entertaining in its own right, but I really couldn’t tell you one thing this film does better than Alien, a film similar in both premise and execution.
There are plenty of themes that this film could have explored just from its premise. Will creatures do whatever is necessary to survive? What does the discovery of advanced alien life mean for humanity? How will humans react to the introduction of a potentially more advanced species? These questions may have been explored more deeply in other movies, but Life and Alien both go for more of a thriller-type of approach to executing this premise.
There is only one scene in this film that stood out as particularly impressive, and it had to do with a change in temperature within the ISS. It suddenly gets quite cold, and the actors really look as if they were trying to speak in frigid temperatures. Colder temperatures affect speech quite a bit, which was very accurately reflected in this film. While this might seem inconsequential, I was impressed and it stood out from what was otherwise a fairly standard film.
Overall, Life was an entertaining film that was just a little too familiar. It’s lack of creativity was a bit of a letdown, as I was hoping for a little more than just the “monster movie” this film is. You will likely be entertained while watching it, only to forget it within a week. ◊