This sci-fi creature feature is a surprisingly enthralling space ride.
It might owe a lot to the likes of Alien and Gravity – without quite the scripting or finesse of either – but there’s still plenty of thrills n’ spills to enjoy here with the impressive special effects and edge-of-your-seat moments.
This thriller sees a six astronaut crew – including Medical Officer David Jordan (Nightcrawler’s Jake Gyllenhaal), Quarantine Officer Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), pilot Rory Adams (Deadpool’s Ryan Reynolds) and British biologist Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare from TV’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell) – tasked with providing evidence of the first example of extra-terrestrial life beyond Earth.
But the International Space Station-based team soon realise they’ve got far more than they’ve bargained for when they study the sample that has just arrived after its six month journey from Mars via capsule.
After the impressive specimen grows quickly – soon losing its initial pet-like status after being named ‘Calvin’ – it wreaks havoc on the station when it attaches itself to Derry and it’s unleashed after the crew try to save him.
What ensues is a very competent and sometimes legitimately scary sci-fi journey, which sees the team hunted down in an almost Alien 3 type fashion by this highly-intelligent squid/face-hugger-esque being (that isn’t in any way over-the-top and arguably realistic to what could potentially be expected), that puts Life above the genre norm in terms of production values.
It’s let down by the terribly clunky dialogue which reduces the characters (and acting abilities of the generally A-list cast) – who you struggle to really care for – to mere entities in the alien’s predatory game, which leaves you thinking this could have really reached classic status if it was in the hands of a Ridley Scott or Alfonso Cuaron-type, instead of in the hands of hit-and-miss director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House and Child 44).
But the ‘jumpy’ moments resulting from the cat-and-mouse storyline of the ever-evolving ‘Calvin’, coupled with an extremely satisfying pay-off – makes this life well worth messing with.
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya & Ryan Reynolds
Running Time: 1 Hr 44 Mins
Director: Daniel Espinosa
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