LIFE  (2017)

To steal the old David Spade joke, I liked "Life" better the first time I saw it, when it was called "Alien." A small crew in outer space encounters an alien life form that starts off as a curiosity and quickly transforms into a powerful enemy.

A crew on the International Space Station is collecting dirt samples from Mars. A microscopic organism is discovered, and eventually brought out of its state of hibernation, the first lifeform discovered outside of Earth. The creature is unique, with each cell essentially being its own brain, muscle, and eye. When one of the scientists starts to interact with it, it turns violent. The creature escapes the enclosure it was kept in, grows at an alarming rate, and seems to be able to withstand any attacks the humans try.

Everything spirals further and further out of control, as the astronauts try to fight the alien while maintaining the integrity of the space station. Solving one problem seems to create a different one, and sacrifices have to be made that will impact every crew member, the entire mission, and literally everyone on Earth.

The crew of the Nostromo in "Alien" was a bunch of blue-collar worker types, your average joes, doing what they need to earn a paycheck. "Life" goes in the opposite direction, setting things on the real-life International Space Station and giving us characters that are actual doctors and scientists. Despite the more esteemed credentials, the characters still make stupid decisions. Quarantine means quarantine, not "just open the door real quick". Limited fuel supply means limited fuel supply, not "blast a flamethrower until the tank is drained".

Despite the flaws in the characters, the movie was still great in terms of visuals and special effects. I'm always a sucker for anti-gravity movies, watching people float by as the camera spins and rotates. The visuals may not have been quite as amazing as Gravity, but they were still impressive. Still, beautiful visuals can't overcome the combination of dumb characters and a predictable retread of a plot.

[Celluloid Hero] gives "LIFE" a 4 out of 10.




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