The science fiction sub-genre of “stranded in space” stories is one that has been consistently utilized in film and television as a way to blend science fiction and horror into a cohesive mixture for the sake of tension, thrills and even scares. Genre films have not teetered outside of the conventions and cliches originated d by Ridley Scott’s classic “Alien”, a film that succeeded in terrifying audiences with the simple story of space travelers being hunted down by a mysterious creature. Sony and Daniel Espinosa’s newest release “Life” does exactly that…but with varying levels of success.
Essentially an “Alien” clone, “Life” is a science fiction film about a group of space travelers who find themselves being hunted down by an ever-growing and evolving creature….(sound familiar?). There is nothing more to the story than that simple explanation of it’s thinly veiled plot. Through a lackluster marketing campaign, Sony has done nothing to create anticipation or much interest in what most believed would be a forgettable and bland rip off of a classic story structure. While the film itself isn’t as forgettable as predicted, it doesn’t make it any special. It’s moments of well executed terror and tension are the icing on a bland cake starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, and Olga Dihovichnaya. The only exception is Ryan Reynolds who by strength of his comedic personality is the only linchpin keeping the crew from devolving into a bundle of boringness.
Director Daniel Espinosa succeeds in creating tense, thrilling moments rather than sequences or prolonged scenes. The cinematography and flowing movements of the picture are well crafted technically and serve the purpose of creating an environment of long, dark, gravity-less corridors for the characters to float around. Though the mixture of a generally boring cast of characters and a generic final act prevent “Life” from being anything more than an average science fiction film with scattered moments of greatness. However, on part of Sony, the R-rating granted to the film is commendable as it allows for graphic and violent sequences featuring the alien creature as well as its surprising ending, the savior of the overall final product. Without the ending, there would be little to grasp from the picture.
To put it simply, “Life” isn’t the forgettable bore-fest that the trailers have poorly marketed, but is on no level with “Alien” and thus fairly useless. The result is average, but not without it’s moments.
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