The Louisville Cardinal

‘Life’ movie is 2017’s thrilling, frustrating version of ‘Alien’

By Briana Williams–

There are few films that truly change the landscape of the movie industry. However, when “Alien” was released in 1979, it did just that. The science fiction realm of movies was impacted so heavily that it created a boom of science fiction films.

Today, the genre is one of the most popular, usually generating the highest budget and box office numbers. Of course, not every science fiction film is a winner. The recent release of “Life” proves that.

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson, “Life” features a plot almost identical to “Alien.” Astronauts are stranded in space and after a series of events occur, an alien life form renders them trapped on their ship. With an already predictable plot, “Life” had little going for it from the start.

But the unique aspects of the alien itself were what helped the movie tremendously. Not only did it simply look different, but it grew as the movie progressed. Unlike “Alien,” audiences actually saw how the creature became what it was and understood early on what its weaknesses were. The alien was also treated more like a virus that needed to be eradicated than an alien itself. This provided an interesting dynamic between it and the astronauts.

There were also some plot twists here and there, but nothing that would completely shock someone in the audience.

The characters in “Life” were perhaps the most frustrating. Reynolds’ character, Roy Adams, was a character that Reynolds has played before in several movies. While that character works perfectly for some of his other movies, it just felt flat in this one.

Ferguson was the leading female of the film and was in charge of emergency protocols in the event of a major accident. Inevitably, the major accident happened, yet she seemed incredibly useless throughout. Honestly, it felt like filmmakers put her in there just so they could include a woman on the ship. Despite her high ranking, it still felt like she was a background character.

Gyllenhaal’s character was the most interesting in the film. His quiet, mysterious and humble nature made him stand out among the other characters. He also had a certain love for space that seemed to be the only thing that he was passionate about. Hints of his backstory were told through dialogue, but he wasn’t explored enough. As one of the main characters, audiences should be able to understand him more as a person than we do, but there just isn’t enough said about him.

If the characters weren’t disappointing enough, their actions were worse. As astronauts, doctors and aeronautic engineers all too familiar with the risks of going out into space, throughout the entire movie, it felt like all they’d forgotten everything they learned through training.

They tried to save people who obviously couldn’t be saved, they were unbelievably emotional despite knowing the rules for emergencies and they frequently put the entire ship in danger in order to save one person.

“Life” had some decent moments, but most of the time, it seemed like watching a recycled, inferior remake to “Alien.” It certainly moved faster and the plot unfolded in a smoother manner than “Alien,” and it was definitely suspenseful. The film’s score and special effects were also beautifully done in those areas. However, “Life” fell incredibly short everywhere else.

TLC Rating: 5/10