Life shows us how a few complacent space people can endanger our entire existence
When I first found out I was reviewing Life, I was super excited. I love big budget space movies! I love sci-fi! Then I remembered that I am terrified of aliens. Whoops. Soon the question became — will I actually be able to watch the movie without having a panic attack? Much like everything to do with this movie, that answer is unclear. I sat in my chair nervously twitching, waiting to be terrified and got my shoulder muscles knotted up, but I never had to cover my eyes and had no trouble falling asleep when I got home. It was an intense thriller, but maybe just too predictable to actually be scary.As you most likely know from the trailers, Life is about a group of scientists/astronauts/bro losers on an international space station studying a life form found in a soil sample from Mars. All that occurred within the first ten minutes. I thought the mystery might be whether or not the life form was good or bad. Nope. That was the next fifteen minutes. Then the rest was about what terrible things were going to happen next. Unfortunately, that first 25 minutes didn’t set up enough for me to really care.
It’s hard to say what I thought about Life without spoiling the movie, or maybe I’m not smart enough to accurately express it, but is saying “almost everyone died” really a surprise? [SPOILER ALERT] My main problem with Life was that I just didn’t give a shit about who died. Kill the dude who just had a baby? Yep. Whatever, he was boring. Kill sexy Ryan Reynolds? Sure. He was a douche. Kill the two foreign women I can’t tell apart? Yep. DO IT SOON SO I DON’T HAVE TO KEEP TRYING TO REMEMBER THE DIFFERENCE! The Bioligist (Ariyon Bakare) and the Doctor (Jake Gyllenhaal)? Ok.. don’t do that. They’re kinda interesting. I wish they had made the decision to either make the humans more likeable or make the alien more likeable. I wanted someone to cheer for and that just wasn’t there.
The best part of Life, though, was how it made me think about human nature and what people will do to survive and how many stupid things they will do in a moment of panic. It was nice to see people make more realistic, albeit stupid, decisions instead of trying to be noble heroes all the time. Or, deciding to be a noble hero about five minutes too late, which is probably how it would really happen with all these egotistical uptight astronauts. Watching Life from that perspective, it is a good thought piece, but also extremely frustrating and sad.
Plot aside, the movie was pretty, the weightlessness was well done, and the effects were good. There were some strange camera angle choices that took me out of it a bit, but other than that it was an interesting watch. So Life wasn’t a total waste of time, but it had the potential to be so much more.
Life opens in Bay Area theaters Friday, 3/24.