Movie Review: “Life”

Life

“Life” – a film review by Gary Chew

Astronauts aboard an International Space Station are on the brink of a discovery that will shake the whole human race. How it shakes out … is for you to see and find out. I will say, though, it does have to do with earth orbit space and extraterrestrial life from Mars that may or may not prove serendipitous for mankind. The specimen in question is snagged as it whizzes too close to the space station with its crew of intelligent, dedicated men and women. The principals are Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson and Olga Dihovichnaya.

LifeAfter the series of Alien movies we’ve all felt driven to watch that feature Sigourney Weaver locked in relentless combat with a really ugly, slithering creature, you can easily lock onto of what’s likely to occur in the new film called Life. It’s Daniel Espinosa‘s movie. The scriptwriters are Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Swedish composer Jon Ekstrand wrote the music.

It was hard for me to tell if the music is good or not. Being so loud all the time, I wasn’t able to determine whether it should get an A or D. I do know that what Mr. Ekstrand wrote is neither in A flat or D flat.

Finding a sci-fi space film today that doesn’t come with special effects and sets that don’t visually ring with rattling veracity is difficult; unless you want to watch those from the terrible Fifties when the sets and technology seemed more of a parody than what the interior of a genuine space station … with all its bells and whistles … really looks like.

Crew members begin research on the minuscule specimen in the high tech, on board laboratory. After adjusting for the appropriate atmosphere to bring the specimen back to life, the crew is pleasingly amused with its reactions.

This may lull you into a short-lived sense of contentment. But golly, you know that the film isn’t La La Land. Soon, it proves Espinosa’s story carries a tad more gravity. Yes, instead of taking you to what once seemed to be an idle dalliance, you’re confronted with a rapidly emerging entity that’s very likely to be much more intelligent than any human assigned to this space station. To say that what evolves with the crew’s so-called resurrection of alien life from Mars brings on unintended, not to mention, widespread consequences, would be a puny admonition What follows through to the finish is enough to make Sigourney Weaver and Sandra Bullock quiver in their space suits. And I’m omitting what it causes for the character Ryan Reynolds plays in Life.

Before Life ends, a name is given to the recently reborn “whatever it is” Martian passenger on the space station. A little girl in Times Square, and on television, communicates to the astronauts that she likes the name “Calvin.” So, “Calvin” it is.

That’s a proper name for “whatever it is” but, just to end these comments on a semi-humorous note, I’d like to suggest that the sample from Mars brought back to life should be called “Trump” or maybe even more fitting, “Donald.”

Will Stanley Kubrick please pick up the white courtesy telephone?

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Gary Chew
Gary Chew was a classical music host, programmer and producer on Capital Public Radio’s KXPR 88.9FM, Sacramento for 18 years. He retired in January 2007. Read more about Gary's long and storied career here.