I wasn’t quite sure about Life. It was either this or Power Rangers. I’d seen the trailer for both, couldn’t decide, and since I heard Life was better, I went to that. Especially when I saw Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds were both in there. But alas no weightless shirtless workout scenes with those boys, which means I missed Dacre Montgomery’s abs for this. Life had better be good.
The strength of Life is how realistic it felt. Everyone was weightless at all times. Things floated a LOT. We felt the claustrophobia of a space station where every cubic foot was precious. I’m sure a real astronaut would see through it but from where I sat it was pretty convincing. Life took its time to really establish the character’s humanity, their ties to earth and their motivations. This, combined with some impressive acting, gave some for some powerful performances. When Life is discovered, the sense of wonder and curiosity and caution is palpable. As is their terror later on.
Life starts out slow, which is not a bad thing. And then when it gets fast, it gets exciting. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. A lot of that is because space itself is terrifying (one of the reasons I’ll never see Gravity) but the scary scenes in this movie were an extra level of intense with or without the vacuum outside. There was one scene with Ryan Reynolds that was so horrific I could actually hear my own heartbeat. That part was worth the price of admission all by itself. There were a few such scenes, the use of detail in the space station was ingenious and logically consistent. Life was well thought out and knew its characters and setting perfectly.
There’s going to be spoilers here, this paragraph only. I won’t ruin the good stuff but it’s hard to talk about some of the weaker points without giving a few specifics. My problem with this film was that it was just a monster movie. Of course that’s unfair, there’s obviously so much more to it (realistic space station, character development, blah blah) but I just didn’t like the monster. It started out fragile and, all at once, it was a super genius (smarter than Tony Stark), inexplicably malevolent and literally invincible. And after about 40 minutes of tearing through the crew like tissue paper, the monster grows a face. It didn’t need one before but it gets one so that it can glower at people. I have to admit, found the beastie a little on the unbelievable side.
So is Life worth watching? Yes, especially if you like monster movies in space. I mean, I heard this was inspired by the Alien franchise, and I have to say Alien did a better job. Geiger’s work is way cooler than whoever designed the jellyfish flower. But there are scenes in Life that rival the first time we see the Chest Burster, and that is saying something.