“Life” serves up your familiar survival problems in outer space. Its log line pretty well sums things up: We were better off alone.
Clever, but honestly, I was better off before I saw it. Once again, we’re given a fantasy menu of suppositions we need to accept in order to suspend our belief in reality and enjoy the film: creatures like this somehow existed on Mars, aliens have magical powers and space stations are made of swiss cheese.
OK, so that aside, this isn’t the first time we’ve been subjected to other-worldly baddies in close quarters. A little ditty called Alien drew the picture 40-odd years ago, so we all know what to expect. This time, the crew is exemplary, -- the terrific super-brainy stay-cool-in-conflict kind -- and this time the monster is a lot cuter. For a while.
And we feel for them. Director Daniel Espinosa showcases a happy co-existence in an idyllic international space station, replete with perfect nationality mix, yahoo personalities and heart-warming humanity. Nice premise for a film, but where’s the conflict? Oh yeah, that thing. Which grows from adorable to abominable in record time. And is apparently very pissed off it’s been awakened from a nice, peaceful nap.
There are clever conundrums to cook up in zero-G and a whole lot of bouncing around the hallways, whether chasing down an emergency breach or getting chased by a hungry thingie. It’s scary but comically repetitive. Time after time, some glass-windowed door gets slammed shut just in time for the monster to race towards it at full speed and prat-splat.
And while the crew tries every high-tech brilliant trick they can cook up in a panic, our little buddy demonstrates an uncanny ability to remain alive, defying natural law so blandly, why its, its… unnatural!
While some of my seat mates enjoyed the thrills, me, I tend to thrill over things more plausible. You’ve got your cool space station, your capable crew -- Jake Gyllenhaal , Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds heading the lineup – and this tantalizing premise: life on Mars.
Next time, maybe the aliens will be a littler friendlier.