Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Jake Gyllenhaal – Dr. David Jordan
Rebecca Ferguson – Dr. Miranda North
Ryan Reynolds – Rory Adams
Hiroyuki Sanada – Sho Murakami
Ariyon Bakare – Hugh Derry
Olga Dihovichnaya – Katerina Golovkina
Quite literally the only thing worth watching Life for is Calvin: The multi-celled organism retrieved from a Mars soil sample. The concept of a single cell being revived and then exploding into something huge with almost superhuman abilities makes quite an intriguing watch I discovered. And this was the best part of Life; this movie excels in the special effects department to bring Calvin to life with fizzing clarity. The organism itself creates its own buzz on screen as it dances around in all its sticky glory. This stuff is Flubber on acid, making a very entertaining watch.
The visuals used here are just superb. The organism flickers and pulsates as it grows larger and larger, like something from a fantasy flick. No complaints from me concerning special effects.
The moment Hugh begins probing the little squishy thing is entertaining too. The viewer is plunged straight into a scientific environment literally through the lens of a microscope as he delicately examines Calvin – before events take a shocking turn and the shit (or goo) hits the fan. I found this scene nicely tense, all cast members doing their bit to heighten the stress levels surrounding the one scientist and his vicious little pet project. But the juiciest bit is when Calvin starts to move.. I knew a massive jump was coming, I was gearing up for it. Hugh starts to examine the thing through a scientific glove very tenderly.. it starts curling around his fingers.. slithering up his arm.. the man’s face studies it tensely.. then…
I shit myself.
Well, almost shit myself. I was very close.
This bit was superb, as on-edge as you could hope for especially when Calvin then becomes larger and escapes its ‘prison’ and infiltrates the hub itself. Cue a frantic chase between human and thing with a hell of a lot of pyrotechnics filling the screen. Slight claustrophobia kicks in here too, with the action all taking place inside a small hub as the other characters are on the other side of the door, yelling and banging on it. Life certainly makes the most of its scene dynamics, rinsing as much tension as it possibly can. Top marks here for this truly bizarre, “what the fuck?” scene.
Reynolds brings something to the screen I’ve not seen before – mainly a bucketload of disguting gore. He’s not bad as Rory, delivers the dramatics where necessary. But it’s when Calvin gets hold of him that the man splatters the screen with bodily organs. I can sit through A Nightmare on Elm Street without flinching, but the scene between Rory and the thing made me feel queasy. Without giving away details of whether he survives or not, I will say that this scene is harsh – but makes for a gripping watch as a fight between man and Martian quickly turns grotesque, and yet again fantastic visuals come into play as the man floats suspended in mid-air whilst displaying terrifying facial expressions. These scenes certainly compensate for the rest of the movie being a bit dull.
Something was missing here in this movie. I can’t quite pinpoint what, perhaps Life needed a structure boost or better dialogue. The feature flows like a standard Hollywood A-lister usually does, but there was a hell of a lot of space for improvement. And although the plot is incredibly simple, the overall production just turns out to be a game of kiss-chase between man and gunk with the only impending outcome being whether or not Rory and his crew manage to capture, contain and rid their ship of Calvin.
Other than that, there’s not much to it. Imagine a gang of deep-sea divers; floating around trying to grab a stubborn, even floatier piece of seaweed as it bobs about underwater. Same sort of concept. Not overly fun.
On the plus side of this however, watching Calvin run through outer space is interesting. The sticky little chap seems to be able to survive cosmic temperatures and lack of breathable air, as he legs it across the outside surface of the International Space Station. Weird stuff, like a small child running around an attic or something. But once again, weird makes wonderful as Calvin leads the way and ends up being possibly the best and most entertaining cast member.
Life is one of those rare gems. One of those shit rare gems, where you think you’ve landed a fantastic watch but the movie ends up being just passable and ultimately you’re not bothered if it ever crosses your path – or eyes – again. It isn’t a disaster, it just lacks that punch to make it brilliant.
Life is visually faultless. It combines some spectacular animation with equally fab special effects. Outer space is sparkly with crystal clear distinctness, it’s enough to rival Gravity (2013).
The effort gone into Calvin is big; as mentioned above it is just superb however weird it is.
The final few minutes of Life are certainly worth sticking around for. A twist in the plot makes for quite an entertaining ending, and is one of the better scenes.
This movie is drastically missing something. And towards the middle of it, the tensity seems to drop. It seems to become boring. Not good. Life is a science fiction action flick, but runs its course like a dull novel. I didn’t enjoy this aspect at all.
Rebecca Ferguson. Is it just me, or is she boring as arse? I could think of so many more vibrant, effective women they could have used in this movie. Instead, we get her academic chops.
I’m half and half on this one, but I must say the finale is not to be missed. Life contains a twist in its ending that I didn’t even see coming, and it makes for an entertaining – if somewhat obvious – watch.
I would break the bank on paying to see this, but give it a go if you fancy an hour or so of outer-space frolic. It does have its good bits.