Life is about a group of astronauts on the International Space Station who intercept a spacecraft carrying a soil sample from Mars. They soon determine that the sample contains the first discovery of extraterrestrial life, a strange lifeform which is soon nicknamed Calvin. But while studying Calvin, the astronauts soon discover the organism may not be as harmless as it appears.
I remembered when I first saw the trailer for this film, it immediately reminded me of a mashup of Gravity and Alien. Well, turns out, that is exactly what the film is (although not as good as either of them). The weakest aspect of the film is the plot, which is very basic and paint-by-numbers. If you’re at all familiar with the genre you can easily figure out exactly what’s going to happen- astronauts find alien, alien grows rapidly, something bad happens, astronauts start dying. Plus, there are a number of fairly large plot holes, which left me wondering such things as: why is there a flame-thrower on a space station (because of the whole fire makes everybody die in space thing), and, why was the grew not informed about proper quarantine procedures (because that seems like pretty important information they should know)? However, once the meat of the film starts to happen and the alien starts to kill people, the movie does pretty well at generating suspense, the bread and butter of any horror film.
The parts of the film other than the plot, however, are much more competently done. The film features an ensemble cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, and Hiroyuki Sanada, all of whose acting is decent enough (even if Gyllenhaal is given some pretty crummy dialogue at times). The effects, while not up to the ridiculously high standards set by Gravity, are also decent. The set design, in particular, is quite well done, even if it’s not exactly accurate to the real life International Space Station.
In summary, Life is a serviceable but certainly not ground-breaking sci-fi horror flick. I certainly didn’t mind seeing it, but it’s also not a film which warrants much thought after afterwards. If you’re a fan of the genre and you’ve already seen some of the better movies that have been released recently (*cough* Logan and Get Out *cough*) than you could do worse than seeing Life.