Space movies have a tried and true tradition in cinema. I don’t think I can remember a segment of the film world more contentious the space. And I really think that has to do with what we don’t know. As humans, anything we aren’t sure about is immediately scary to us. And I can see why space fits that definition. It’s a vast, endless vacuum of nothing that we can’t see 99 percent of.
And I think horror movies set in space are a particular subset that feeds on a primal fear we can’t quite control. And it’s also why it’s pretty easy to make a decent space movie and have it be scary. So it is even more uprising when a movie doesn’t live up to already low standard.
Life is a little more than an exploration of space. It is about a crew on the International Space Station, who in carrying out their mission of receiving a Mars exploration satellite, unwittingly discover life from Mars. However, as is often true about aliens we didn’t invite to Earth, they find that this alien is set on eating, destroying and just general mayhem.
The movie itself isn’t terrible. It does manage to feed off its inspiration of Alien and create a pretty compelling story. Ryan Reynolds is himself as always, and Rebecca Ferguson does a fairly decent job of holding your attention. The least shocking actor in this movie is Jake Gyllenhaal, whose normally placid acting doesn’t seem to get any better here. I think his personality just isn’t right for this movie, and it shows.
What really shocks me is that Daniel Espinosa, director of this film and such fine works as Safe House, really just did a pretty good job of creating an atmosphere. This isn’t the next great alien menace, but it is pretty shockingly creepy in action. And the writing of Deadpool team Rhett Reese and Paul Werneck do a pretty convincing job of making emotional connections with the characters. Like I said before, I think if the original plan of Reynolds starring went through, it would have been a much better fit than Gyllenhaal.
The visuals and music are also superb. You really do get the feeling of the space station, the vacuum of space, and the impending doom of having a crazed alien follow you.
Overall, the movie is actually pretty good. It’s enjoyable and pretty scary, despite the low bar set for it. I do think it rises above it’s expectations, and would watch it a second time. The acting is okay, but the rest of the movie really flows well. I think the real problem is casting choices. And if you can get past that, it is a really fun time. Check it out, maybe even in the theater.
Dialogue isn't the best
Casting is only so-so