As I have said many times here before, science-fiction is in the midst of a massive renaissance. From the classic franchises producing new and exciting entries like Star Wars, Star Trek, and the Alien series, as well as the upcoming and highly anticipated Blade Runner 2049 to loads of great new original films like Arrival, Passengers, and Valerian, sci fi is back and better than ever. A new film out this month takes a familiar story and gives it a fresh coat of paint in Life.
Six astronauts (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya) aboard the ISS study a sample collected from a Mars probe that seems to be a living single cell organism making for a historical discovery. But when the organism turns out to be much more intelligent and much more aggressive than they could have imagined, it becomes a race to stop it before it finds a way back to Earth.
For the most part, the story of Life follows the same template as Ridley Scott’s original Alien. Astronauts encounter a malevolent lifeform and one by one they are picked off as they try to find a way to stop it. So in the story department, not much new here. But where Life makes up for the story originality is in the casting and the production design. The film is stunningly gorgeous. The space vistas, the technology, the sets and costuming, all top notch and really something to behold. And the cast all do great jobs with their respective roles, especially Rebecca Ferguson and the vastly underappreciated Hiroyuki Sanada. As for the alien itself, the filmmakers opted for a much smaller but no less deadly lifeform and it works very well. It is kind of a globby creature that morphs and adapts based on what it encounters. It is very effective and makes for some pretty substantial jump scares and tension. Life isn’t the most original sci fi film out there but it is a hell of a lot of fun. And it is one of the best looking Blu-ray’s of the year. Highly recommended.