Goodbye Moon, Goodbye Stars

Life

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare

What made director Ridley Scott’s The Martian such an enjoyable film was the emotional tension between Matt Damon’s character Mark Watney stuck on Mars and the ground crew desperately trying to return him safely back to earth. This emotional tension is lacking in Safe House director Daniel Espinosa’s sci-fi thriller Life, which has an unimaginative title.

This sci fi thriller Life should not be confused with the 2015 Anton Corijn film Life about James Dean or the earlier film 1999 Eddie Murphy film also called Life. Seriously, couldn’t the screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick think up a more imaginative title?

Except for the onscreen chemistry between Rebecca Ferguson (Florence Foster Jenkins) as Dr Miranda North and Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) playing Dr David Jordan on board the doomed International Space Station circling above Earth, Life relies too heavily on the storyline of Ridley Scott’s Alien film franchise without delivering any of the inherent shock value.

Life centres on a multinational group of astronauts who inexplicably bring back a living organism from Mars which is initially carefully nurtured by Hugh Derry played by Ariyon Bakare. The organism is affectionately nicknamed Calvin and only through a brief sequence shot in Time Square in New York featuring children looking forward to humanity’s future with this alien life form still supposedly being cultivated safely on the space station above our planet.

Soon things go horribly wrong as Calvin turns into a malevolent starfish which transforms into a bloodsucking slimy creature intent on destroying all humans on board the spaceship. As each of the crew members starts dying off, Life tries to keep the visual intensity going with some superb camera work yet fails to deliver an original storyline.

Set almost entirely on board the spaceship, Life is as bland as the visually impressive Morten Tyldum film Passengers. Both films just fail to engage although at least with Passengers the sexy chemistry between Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence was far more palpable.

Daniel Espinosa’s Life is watchable viewing held together by a brilliant twist at the end but unfortunately the story line is nothing original even lacking in orchestrated suspense. Ultimately, Life suffers from falling under the shadow of a far more superior horror film, Ridley Scott’s 1979 smash hit Alien featuring a breath taking performance by Sigourney Weaver as Ripley.

A watchable but not brilliant film, Life unfortunately succumbs to an overpopulated film genre which has been outstripped by the Alien franchise and more recently Alphonso Cuaron’s Oscar winning Gravity.

Despite the inventive camera work, Espinosa’s Life gets a rating of 6.5 out of 10.

 

 

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