Director: Daniel Espinosa
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds
Release Date: June 20, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8.5/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
LIFE is an intense sci-fi thriller about a team of scientists aboard the International Space Station whose mission of discovery turns to one of primal fear when they find a rapidly evolving life-form that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.
‘Life’ joins a team of scientists with various specialties travelling aboard the International Space Station and exploring the many regions of space. After the team makes a groundbreaking discovery unequivocally proving life on Mars and also the first indisputable proof of life outside Earth, the team begins to study the life form from the safety of the moving ship as it slowly begins to evolve, growing continually smarter until eventually finding a way to escape its prison. As the alien life finds free reign aboard the massive ship it begins to expand and grow further. Now the team must fight this alien force at all costs as it begins taking out their crew one by one, while also struggling to uncover a way of stopping it once and for all before it can find a way to earth or another inhabited planet.
Directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Child 44) from a screenplay written by duo Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland, Deadpool), Espinosa does a fantastic job at the helm of ‘Life’ guiding this tense, powerful and somewhat creepy space-thriller along with ease. The film also owes a good share of the credit to the talented folks that comprise the cast including Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Rebecca Ferguson (The Girl On The Train), Ryan Reynolds (The Voices), Hiroyuki Sanada (Sunshine), Ariyon Bakare (Jupiter Ascending) and more, nearly all delivering highly capable performances in each of their respective roles and therefore allowing this largely human-driven tale to work as well as it does.
‘Life’ is a well constructed and executed sci-fi horror-thriller in space that offers a tense and often quite emotional, claustrophobic ride. It wisely opts for taking the time to flesh out its characters and allow viewers to connect with each at least to some degree which helps tremendously once the terror sets in full swing and the alien life begins to remove them one by one, causing the viewer to actually feel something at the loss of these individuals and not merely shrug as another useless character is slaughtered (such as is often the case with many horror flicks). While ‘Life’ may indeed be a sci-fi film in many regards, it’s also undeniably a horror film, channeling such classics as ‘Alien’ and others as it takes us on a fairly impressive and occasionally somewhat bloody journey with the trapped crew of the space station. The only area where ‘Life’ really falls flat in any way is in its inability to truly contribute anything new to the familiar space-horror-alien concept, instead taking the basic ideas of so many other similar movies and borrowing what works best in order to form this latest terror-in-space thriller. It’s smoothly guided by director Daniel Espinosa around each terrifying turn and further complimented by a highly capable cast that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds along with more. I would strongly urge anyone who enjoys similarly themed sci-fi horror films to make a point of giving ‘Life’ a shot when you have the opportunity to do so, it’s a solid entry in the genre that even while failing to contribute much of anything new certainly manages to nail the basics remarkably well. It’s an intense and enjoyable ride that genre fans probably won’t want to miss out on.
Overall, ‘Life’ is a worthy entry in the familiar ‘terror in space’ genre (or subgenre?) of films that while never really contributing anything new or exceptional to the concept nonetheless manages to offer up the best of the basics quite splendidly throughout. It comes together into a tense and truly human tale of high stakes terror that’s smoothly guided along by director Daniel Espinosa and boosted all the more by a cast that includes a number of talented folks. ‘Life’ definitely earns my recommendation, particularly for those who enjoy other similar ‘horror in space’ thrillers with solid acting and no shortage of intense fun from start to finish, as well as for fans of either Espinosa’s work behind the camera or the various talented cast members featured within. It should have no trouble proving itself well worth your time and the cost of a rental at the very least for anyone the slightest bit interested in checking it out but understandably hesitant to drop the cash on a blind purchase.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Life’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty great as a whole and provides a relatively sharp, clean and smooth presentation throughout with no notable faults to be found along the way, although a few brief moments seem to appear too smooth, almost glossy. It holds up impressively even during the many darkly lit sequences and never causes anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a pretty solid high definition video presentation from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment that should have no problem pleasing the majority of fans and casual viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack offers a crisp, clean and often quite hard hitting audio presentation from start to finish. It often takes full advantage of all seven available channels in order to send elements from the ship, along with pounding, banging and plenty more aggressive (and often somewhat eerie) effects making their way throughout the various speakers with regularity, and never causing any dialogue that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a fantastic 7.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that compliments the film perfectly and shouldn’t disappoint in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Life’ includes a few decent extras that take a deeper look at the film and bringing it to life. Included on the release are some ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 6 minutes in length altogether), ‘Astronaut Diaries’ (running 3 minutes), and a few Behind the Scenes Featurettes that include interviews/comments with the cast and crew and some behind the scenes footage. The included Featurettes are: ‘Life: In Zero G’ (approximately 7 minutes), ‘Creating Life: The Art and Reality of Calvin’ (7 minutes) and ‘Claustrophobic Terror: Creating a Thriller in Space’ (7 minutes).