This seems like a movie that got released then quickly vanished without a trace. Too bad too, because "Life" is actually a quiet but startling little thriller. If you like the alone-in-space type movies, where mood can have even more of a payoff because they are in space, this is for you.
Now, you are probably thinking that seems too close to "Alien." Yes, I will say that it has many elements and parallels to "Alien." We have a group of people on a spaceship. In "Life" a group of astronauts on an international space station discover the first ever lifeforms on Mars. They bring the lifeform on the ship, the lifeform turns hostile, and terrible shit goes down. Its a little different than "Alien." It also kind of becomes a slasher film is space. Hey, I never said that "Life" was original, but I will say that it is a good example of something done right. The performances are well-done and believable across the board, the special effects are efficient, the music is deeply effective, and the genuine unease that builds over the coarse of the film is enough to get your hair standing on end.
It helps when you have people like Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Olga Dihovichnaya all starring in the film. Ryan Reynolds is his usual sarcastic self, but when he is told to portray dramatic beats, it never feels like a fluke, it never feels unnatural. He is able to roll with the punches of his character with ease. Jake Gyllenhaal has done several roles like this before, and he is perfecting the art of his craft. As is Ferguson and Sanada. I am not very familiar with Dihovichnaya, but I can say that she takes charge of the leadership role in this movie, and she makes the most of it. It is a small cast, but each character makes their screen time count.
The special effects are believable enough, and never come across cheap. But the films secret weapon is how it feels like a slow burn. At an hour and a half, its not a very long movie. But it has a way of building up and building up, it takes its time even though its a short movie. When creepy and disturbing things begin to happen, it feels like a sudden jolt. It never feels like a cheap thrill. Scares seem to be cheaper and cheaper in this day and age, and I give "Life" credit for making this film feel relevant.
Yes, it has "Alien" DNA all over it. But I can honestly say that it never feels like a homage movie. It never feels tongue-in-cheek. Movies have been in the history of our world for over a hundred years now, its damn tough to come up with an original concept, well at least 100% original concept. So you may complain that this is just like "Alien," but that doesn't make it bad. It's absolutely worth seeing and I honestly can't wait to get it on Blu-Ray and have a double-feature with "Alien."
FINAL GRADE: B+