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Life Movie Review: This Space-Horror Alien Story Packs Surprises And Twists in Familiar Terrain

The story of Life takes place aboard the International Space Station, where six astronauts face an alien. While studying a sample from Mars, they discover an extraterrestrial being which begins to evolve and grow and in the process of that starts killing the astronauts one-by-one. Cut off from earth’s communications, these astronauts have to fight for their survival and for the survival of mankind. Will they succeed?


Life is the first movie where Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds will be seen together. The release date of Life was shifted up so that it didn’t clash with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Life is inspired by Alien (1979). This is the second time, after Sunshine (2007), where Hiroyuki Sanada will be seen playing the role of an astronaut. This is Jake Gyllenhaal’s first space-based movie.


What To Anticipate:

Life may follow the same alien-space-violence spectrum but it does so with its own personalized version. For once, the alien is not a scary, saliva spilling monster with fangs and tail. The alien, a squid-like creature which stands invulnerable to fire or vacuum, is always a step smarter than the scientists.

The backdrop of space has been very well-utilized by the director who uses the different elements like zero-gravity, the space suits, the vacuum containment units etc to give a very eerie and horror feel to the stranded space station. Being inspired by the 1979 classic, Alien, it feels progressive. Bad decisions, the invulnerability of the extraterrestrial being (named Calvin), they all mark as pivotal changes to the momentum of the story. The first 30 minutes of the movie introduces the audience to space and the no-gravity as well gives a little character-depth. But, we all understand that in a movie like this, there is no lead. Every character is there as bait, be the first or the last.

A lot of credit has to be given to the story writers – Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the minds behind Deadpool. The story feels new, even though if placed in the old bottle. There are unexpected surprises and twists that make the plot interesting. It’s a 1 hour and 43 minutes watch, but minus the beginning, it has some edge of the seat thrill and action.

Given all the good things, the movie falls flat when it comes to characters. Both Reynolds and Gyllenhaal are not able to pour enough substance into their characters due to the lack of screentime. It’s a wonder how the director got both these actors to work in this. Also, the scenes have been shot in such a manner that some of them might give you motion sickness. And even though the movie stays away from using some of the set stereotypes, it does fall into the stock idea of alien resurrection and alien mayhem. While making Calvin as an all-powerful being, it seems that the scales have been set unjust from the very beginning. It’s an unjust battle that the humanity strives to win. The movie could have packed so much more, but it somehow fails to reach the denouement.


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