Film Review: Life (2017)

© 2017 Sony Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

© 2017 Sony Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 4/5.

Author: Feargal Agard | Runtime: 103 min. | Director: Daniel Espinosa | year: 2017.

Amazing! Even though my expectations of this film were even higher before than after, the story, the creepiness, the tension and the innovative ending made my day. If you are looking for a film that makes your heart beat faster because of the bloodcurdling suspense, this would be that film.

Life celebrates the discovery of a living sample that could be proof of extraterrestrial life. The sample was found on the planet Mars and the crew aboard the ISS (international Space Station) is awaiting a space probe that they are supposed to capture with a large robotic arm. After they caught the probe they open it up and place the extraterrestrial sample in a quarantined lab. They closely study the sample and run various tests. Until the sample suddenly moves and shows signs of growth, which serves as proof that humans finally encountered life. To their amazement, the sample appears to rapidly grow, but it also seems to show signs of intelligence and it can see. It doesn’t take long before the extraterrestrial sample has grown to the point that it begins to display incredible strength. It escapes and attacks the crew members one by one. The crew strapped on the station and they have nowhere to go to. They do everything within their power to kill the creature and prevent it from escaping to Earth.

Lately Hollywood has been preparing us with the idea that we might be going to Mars soon. Life, which has been directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Child 44) actually might warn us about the dangers that could be out there. Life was written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and in my opinion should be defined as a thriller science fiction horror film, because it offers all these aspects. It has scary, gory, creepy and very suspenseful moments. This films basically takes you away from normal day life and throws you in an adventure that has these moments that make you respond to the film by touching your body exactly where you feel that the characters must be hurting. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, and Olga Dihovichnaya.

The film has a great hook at the start. The music in the first scene that contains ominous dark shots of space, sets the tone for what is about to come. It creates a very serious vibe that encourages us to get into the anticipating-scary-things-mode, which we as spectators enjoy. While the scientists study the creature we are completely infatuated with the gaze that the camera offers on new alien life. This is typical with humans because we become so optimistic about such a discovery that we totally forget about the risks. The suspenseful excitement starts when the alien life-form escapes. There have been many moments where I and others would grab our necks as we see one of the characters suffocating. Somewhere in the middle of the first part of the second act, there are several quiet bonding moments that I experienced as slow and it also made me realize that I wasn’t as emotionally involved with the characters on a personal level. But you definitely are concerned for their safety. Next to that, the film overtly has a good pacing. What is most appreciative about this film is the ending which I won’t spoil. Let me just say that there’s an atypical ending. It will also make us wonder whether this might be the start of a new franchise.

Life definitely offers some great camerawork. The film introduces the characters with a long continuous shot. This film shot is so flawlessly filmed as I can imagine that it must be hard to film and direct such a shot where various characters float around coming into the shot from left and right as the follows them through several areas of the space station. You don’t notice that at first, which is good, but if you pay attention you do get to see a great work of innovation. The graphics with which they designed the creature is amazing as well. Although, it may not be up there with the xenomorphs of Alien. They really did a good job to essentially come up with a new kind of alien. It looked so creepy and soulless. Other than that the cinematography is spot on and realistically makes us believe in the authenticity of this creepy adventure.

I did expect even more because of the trailer and probably because I really enjoy Sci-Fi. It still doesn’t take away that it is worth seeing this film. Especially when you take delight in scary dark science fiction films and the idea of humans discovering life on Mars.

In Dutch theatres as from the 23rd of March.

In regard of all pictures and trailer footage: © 2017 Sony Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

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