Concept and Execution: 10/10 Scripting and Story: 5/10 Overal Rating: 7.5/10
***Mild SPOILERS lie ahead***
The film LIFE stars a stellar cast (pun, pun, puuunn!) in a unique and simultaneously
abused sci-fi horror story. With big names like Ryan Reynolds (of Deadpool fame) and Jake Gyllenhaal (End of Watch, Nightcrawler) leading up the crew, the bar set pretty high for
success, but there were some significant holes that caused the film to trip itself up.LIFE begins with a brilliant and exceptionally different concept than previously explored
in films of the sci-fi/horror genre. The creative minds behind this move wanted to examine the idea of what life beyond the borders of our world might be like, but they didn’t want to replicate any monsters we’ve seen danced across the silver screen in recent decades, nor did they want to just augment some frightful critter found right in our backyard. What they sought was something wholly unique and different, and in this they certainly succeeded.
The threat the (fictional) crew of the (real) International Space Station (I.S.S.) faces initially comes in the form of a dormant, single-celled organism that visibly appears to be some form of bacteria. The organism is affectionately named “Calvin” by the students of one randomly selected elementary school (lucky!! Amarite?!). The organism was found in a soil sample that was retrieved from the surface of Mars and is central to the crew’s current mission, to understand what life may exist, or have existed, in extra-terrestrial environments.
The development of “Calvin” is where the creative talents behind LIFE truly excelled. It soon becomes apparent to the crew that “Calvin” is more than just a single-celled organism, it is in fact a colony of single-celled organisms that can operate in tandem with each other as a single, multi-celled organism. The cells that constitute this creature are described as each being muscular, neural, and sensory in function, capable of effectively operating as individual units. This augments “Calvin’s” ability to interact with and learn from its environment. This is truly terrifying when fully considered. The organism rapidly evolves as the film progresses and
becomes an even greater threat. “Calvin” metamorphoses from a batch of cells in a petri dish curiously exploring its environment to a massive organism with a high level of functioning intelligence that is virtually unprecedented. The creature problem solves and learns to understand its surroundings at an astounding rate. Each object, human or otherwise, is a new database it can learn from, and it grows exponentially, feeding on the air and the crew.
Where the film lost some of it’s traction was in the execution of the story. The suspenseful scenes were very tired and full of “tried and true” horror film trope. The outcome of many scenes that were meant to leave the audience in a state of suspense were entirely too predictable, down to which character would die and when. There were a few interesting additions that avoided the scenes from being too boring, but overall it’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before. The biggest downfall in this film is the twist for the ending. It’s one that viewers have a sense may be coming, but logically makes no sense in the realm of the story. In fact, its almost impossible for the ending to occur, making it obvious the writers simply threw this scene into the film to give viewers a convulsion to discuss leaving the theaters. Viewers more than likely left wondering how his could have made sense to the cast and crew.
Overall, this reviewer gives the film a 10 out of 10 for “Concept and Execution” due entirely to the complexity and performance of “Calvin”. “Scripting and Story” receives a depressing 5 out of 10 for the lack of imagination in the implementation of such a new and innovative addition to sci-fi/horror. Overall final score of 7.5 out of 10.