LIFE
Author: JoAnne Hyde
Date: March 23, 2017

SYNOPSIS: LIFE tells the story of the six-member crew of the International Space Station that is on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As the crew begins to conduct research, their methods end up having unintended consequences and the life form proves more intelligent than anyone ever expected.

If you get echoes of Alien (1979) while watching Life, Daniel Espinosaís new film, that would be intentional. Ridley Scottís brilliant film was the inspiration for Life, but it cannot match the intensity nor the performances of Scottís film. That doesnít mean there isnít suspense and/or jolting moments in Life, nor does it mean that the actors donít give their best efforts.

Commenting on extraterrestrial life, famed physicist Stephen Hawking once said ďaliens would be only limited by how much power they could harness and control, and that could be far more than we first imagineĒ. Hold that thought when watching Life. As smart as the 6 scientists in the space station are supposed to be, they seem to miss all the clues about how their own ďETĒ operates, and that, for me, was a flaw in the plot.

Six astronaut/scientists have discovered a large, single-celled organism in soil samples from the surface of Mars. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Dr. David Jordan, a medical doctor who is completely disillusioned with the clamor of life on Earth and prefers the isolation and quiet of space. Rebecca Ferguson portrays Dr. Miranda North, the control officer for the project, who misses Earth. Although featured in the trailer for the film, Ryan Reynolds plays only a supporting role as crew member Rory Adams. Even so, his performance stands out among the rest.

Rounding out the cast are Hiroyuki Sanada as pilot Sho Murakami, Olga Dikovichnaya as Captain Ekaterina Golovkina, and Ariyon Bskare as biochemist Dr. Hugh Derry. Of course, you know there will be a body count Ė itís just a matter of how many and in what order. I most certainly will not give you any clues as to those outcomes!

The story line can be summed up quite easily as we watch the scientistsí giddy awe at their discovery of the first evidence of life beyond Earth turn to terror as the cell turns into a rapidly growing menace. From that point, itís a cat-and-mouse game of trying to contain and control it. The claustrophobic environment of the space station contributes mightily to the suspense and makes you itch for an escape for its hapless occupants.

Some choppy editing and sound mixing caused confusion for me in some instances, and although the actors do their best with a lackluster script, itís really obvious that theyíre working at it. All the elements for a good, scary space story were there, Life just doesnít come together as a compelling whole. Itís not a bad film, itís just an average one. - JoAnne Hyde

GRADE: C


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