Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review: "Life"

Just a mini-review today:

"Life" is an effective but derivative thriller in the mold of "Aliens" and "The Thing." A group of intrepid scientists stumbles across humanity's first contact with alien life. They are fascinated and overjoyed at the prospect of discovery, until the organism proves itself able to rapidly mutate into a larger, scarier form and starts eating faces. The crew is slowly picked off one by one, despite some ingenious attempts to fight the creature, with varying degrees of courageous sacrifices and boneheaded cowardice.

There's really nothing here we haven't seen before: snippets of the personal lives of each person, surprises as the tiny critter turns into a looming beast, chases down darkened passageways, gruesome deaths while another person watches, etc.

But director Daniel Espinosa and script men Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick find effective moments and genuine scares, a long with a large dollop of humanistic notes.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays the medical doctor and former military man who's set a new record with 479 days in space; Ryan Reynolds the cocky Ryan Reynolds-type pilot and needler-in-chief; Olga Dihovichnaya is the station's resolute Russian commander; Rebecca Ferguson is the scientist in charge of making the hard decisions about whether to contain the beast or protect themselves; Ariyon Bakare is the scientist who forms a weird bond with the monster, dubbed "Calvin"; and Hiroyuki Sanada is the engineer type whose baby is born while he's high in the sky.

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