I know what I feel is not rational, not scientific. I feel hate.
In Life, a batch of astronauts stumble across a tiny organism that might just be the first extra-terrestrial life discovered by humanity. It’s tiny at the start, but if you guess it gets bigger, points for you. The movie has the misfortune to come out the same year as Alien: Covenant, since what Life wants to be is basically a rip-off of (or, more charitably, a riff on) Alien. I’ll bet there was some scrambling going on to get Life out the door and into theaters before Alien: Covenant arrived, but Life scrambled right out of the theaters about as fast. The film is bolstered by an above-average cast and most of them more than pull their weight. Rebecca Ferguson is really wonderful; she’s the one who’s able to make her character feel really human and fully realized where no one else really is. Ryan Reynolds is good in support, playing to type as a cocky Alpha-male. Olga Dihovichnaya is particularly good as the Russian commander of the mission, a no-nonsense pragmatist. And Hiroyuki Sanada is good as a sensitive Japanese pilot. Also, points, as you can tell, for having an extremely diverse cast. Jake Gyllenhaal is also along for the ride, but unfortunately, he’s pretty bad, forever staring wanly out of portholes with big, innocent eyes and waxing poetic about how everything up here is so quiet, not like on earth which is noisy or some nonsense. But what we have here is a fairly good genre picture. The movie aims straight at sci-fi horror, not just sci-fi and it gets off some pretty good stuff in the horror area. Calvin, the name given to the organism by the astronauts, is sometimes pretty unsettling in the way he moves. And a couple of the death scenes are genuinely horrifying. The first death is nightmare inducing and there’s a sequence later where an astronaut is trapped inside a malfunctioning spacesuit that is slowly filling with water; that one really pushed all my claustrophobic buttons. But the film doesn’t have anything to say really and most of the characters are underwritten. And the film’s ending leaves a lot to be desired if you ask me. It’s moderately entertaining as these things go and Rebecca Ferguson’s performance is genuinely great, but, well, you knew it was coming, there’s just not a whole lot of life here. 2 ½ stars.
tl;dr – above-average ensemble can’t save mediocre script & the constant barrage of clichés; a couple of nice horror sequences aside, this sci-fi film is pretty tired. 2 ½ stars.