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Opening Date
23 Mar 2017
NC16 Disturbing Scenes and Coarse Language
104 mins
English with Chinese subtitles
Daniel Espinosa
Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson
Life tells the story of the six-member crew of the International Space Station that is on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As the crew begins to conduct research, their methods end up having unintended consequences and the life form proves more intelligent than anyone ever expected.
By Freddy  23 Mar 2017
‘Life’ is a well-executed but ultimately typical sci-fi alien horror that fails to bring enough novelty to the genre.
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Let’s get this out of the way: ‘Life’ (directed by Daniel Espinosa) does not have the most original premise. A hostile alien breaks loose in a spaceship (in this case, International Space Station) and starts murdering the crew. It sounds similar to Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ and will inevitably be compared to “Alien: Covenant’ which opens in May.

Nevertheless, that is not to say that this concept could not be well-executed. The alien from Mars, nicknamed Calvin, is initially friendly and nice until it was provoked. Its killing of the crew is arguably more for survival than mere cold-blooded massacre. So Calvin is clearly just following its instincts, which might make him less blameable but no less scary.

An interesting twist to the genre is their motivation in ensuring that Calvin does not reach Earth. They are aware that Calvin is intelligent and powerful enough to exterminate humanity. It is definitely refreshing that the characters are fighting for a cause greater than their own survival.

The first half an hour is rather slow, but the rest of the film keeps you at the edge of your seat. Granted, there are a few moments that might feel draggy. Luckily the film keeps to a 104-minute duration and has a few plot twists to keep things interesting.

Instead of having a Ripley-type main character, ‘Life’ has a more equal ensemble cast that keeps us guessing about who will survive. We know enough about most of them for us to want to root for their survival. Each of them has a different expertise which contributes to their work and survival. They also make logical decisions most of the time. Even when they do not, it can be chalked up to being in a state of panic when an alien wants to consume your insides.

The actors give a decent performance as a whole, with convincing chemistry as a team. Olga Dihovichnaya’s performance feels less memorable, which has more to do with writing than acting. Ariyon Bakare’s role as Hugh Derry, the one who discovered Calvin, is one of the standout performances of the film.

The visuals are good with generally convincing CGI and authentic-looking zero gravity effects. The design of Calvin is alright but it is not particularly unique. That being said, seeing how Calvin grows from a single cell into a sizeable monster is definitely one of the highlights of the film. The camera work is often dizzying during the first 10 minutes, but becomes progressively better thereafter. Jon Ekstrand’s orchestral score is impressive and very fitting.

Overall, ‘Life’ is a well-executed but ultimately typical sci-fi alien horror that fails to bring enough novelty to the genre. It has well-thought details and good attempts at scientific accuracy but those cannot hide its cliched overarching plot. On the bright side, it gives its target audience what they want and does it satisfactorily
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