Spaced Out: LIFE (2017) Review

A small group of scientist and astronauts recover an unknown specimen on Mars and bring on board their ship. The group unwittingly bring this specimen to life and realize that it’s getting bigger and stronger and that it needs to feed on them to survive. Now they must destroy this new life before it ends up finding its way to Earth.

One of the things I enjoyed about Life is that it realizes it’s not going for original material, but it’s at least trying to bring forth a fairly different story to the table. The characters realize that the hell they’ve created is their fault, and the specimen that they call Calvin isn’t evil, but it’s doing what it needs to to survive. Nonetheless, Calvin is one evil little bugger that’s actually pretty scary. The movie gives us another new alien creature that sets it apart from others. The larger it grows, the more freaky it actually becomes, especially when you can see its face. I admit I am pretty bummed that it wasn’t as violent as it could have been, but the stuff that the alien (I can’t continue to say Calvin cause it just makes it silly), does to our characters is still pretty horrific nonetheless. I also thought had some visuals and cinematography, again, similar filming and effects were done better in similar movies, but hey, they work here. The ship itself works well as a character itself considering the characters and the alien use it to roam, hide, and hunt. As I said, it has a very familiar formula, but it works on the same level as movies similar. There is some good intensity at hand as the alien plays cat and mouse with the characters.

However, for being scientists the characters often do stupid things unfortunately. There is also some very high predictability, but I suppose it’s all in fun. The characters are very familiar and not really unique and you either like them or you don’t. Point being, they’re not that special. I wish I could say the cast was excellent, but that would be a lie. They’re definitely far from bad (though Rebecca Ferguson was extremely bland and boring), but I guess I was expecting more from Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds. Maybe had this been more of a full-blown horror/sci-fi film like Alien or something, then I’m sure they would have upped their game. But this has more of a dramatic tinge to it, which in some ways hurts it. The cast don’t exactly have the best chemistry either. In all honesty, Reynolds is basically the glue that holds them all together and brings the most life (no pun intended) to the movie. He does play his type-casted self, but he is the friend to everyone on this ship and likes to give them all shit, but he does show caring side to all of them when they’re in danger. Ariyon Bakare is probably the one who gives the “stronger” performance as he’s essentially the “Dr. Frankenstein” of the movie who primarily brings the alien to life and how the situation affects him emotionally he does well in conveying in how he essentially blames himself for putting everyone in danger.

Life is a fun and entertaining sci-fi/horror movie, it’s super flawed and nothing special, but I’d rather have entertaining and un-special horror films around than all out bad or boring ones. But it knows it’s not special, but it does what it can to be a good addition to the alien subgenre.

–Cody Landman