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Life - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: C
Acting: B-
Writing: C-
Cinematography: C+
Editing: C
Special Effects: B+

I like to imagine Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds flipped through the pages of the script for Life saying to themselves, "Meh. Meh. Meh. How much will I get paid for this? Well, all right."

This movie does not have a shred of originality any corner of any frame. It's as though Alien and Gravity had a baby, but the baby had to be given up for adoption, to be nurtured by caretakers who had only the most generalized ideas of its roots. It might as well have been named Gravien.

Except, of course, those other two movies are exceptional, and this one is not. I can rarely get past sound effects used for anything happening in outer space, where sound does not travel. And this movie features scrapes and clangs and pounds galore. Like many other movies, sure, but movies are supposed to be better than this now. Also we're supposed to feel like the setting, the International Space Station, is at least a little bit realistic.

Alien is the clearest blueprint, with no other movie bearing more similarity in basic concept: alien specimen is brought on board a spacecraft, and it picks off the members of a relatively small crew one by one. The graphic design of the film's very title is similar. Seriously, Ridley Scott should sue for copyright infringement.

And as for the alien -- specifically, in this case, Martian -- in particular? No semblance of H. R. Giger creature designs here -- if only! -- but instead we get something that starts as a single cell, which multiplies rapidly into something vaguely amoeba-like. Spoiler alert! By the end of the movie, the thing has something resembling a face. I don't know how to describe it, exactly. A cross between a slug and a flower, I suppose. It has octopus-like tentacles.

It's meant to be a stunningly intelligent organism. Nothing about this movie is half as smart as Calvin -- that's the name it's given, seriously -- is meant to be. Except maybe the special effects, which are rendered competently. None of it wows the viewer though. This is mostly where the similarities to Gravity come in: things going wrong, pieces of the station getting smashed to bits. Bang! Boom! Crash! Oh, shut up.

The acting is okay, if you're all right with performances that are largely phoned in. Nobody's wooden, at least. Life maintains a good amount of suspense and tension, I'll give it that. But the more I think about this movie, the more I resent it. And then the so-called twist at the end: is it possible to have visceral response to how insanely predictable something is? If it is, then I had it. I'd certainly had it by the time this movie was over.

Calvin here keeps the action generic in LIFE.

Overall: C
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