Despite a promising premise, great music and a strong opening half hour, cliche plot devices, under-developed characters and a plot ripped straight from the Alien franchise ultimately make this a sci-fi thriller lacking any sort of bite.
The story follows six members on the International Space Station as they uncover a single celled being from a rogue satellite intercepted from its voyage on Mars. As they begin to research the creature, their methods have unintended side effects that eventually result in the being becoming hostile and more intelligent than anyone could have ever imagined. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game as the scientists try and outsmart the creature called “Calvin” that slowly grows in intelligence and size.
The actual film itself isn’t bad per se and there are some stand out moments here. What it does do right is convey a good sense of dread with the creature growing in size to reflect its threat on board the space station and a strong opening half hour really sets the tone for the film in general. There’s some good use of science and logic here as well but, to quote Ryan Reynold’s character “F*ck protocol”, and it quickly deteriorates into an Alien film clone. I won’t go as far to say it’s a complete rip off of Alien, that would discredit some of the things this film does right but you can’t deny that the similarities are here – right down to the black alien creature itself stalking the heavy-breathing astronauts around the ship.
For me though, the music was the stand out here. Its better than it has any right to be, with haunting instrumentals and intimidating, bass-heavy riffs that accompany the action at every turn. The best part being the final fifteen minutes or so where the music hits its peak and really elevates the ending. The film itself has had whispers surrounding it about being a Venom (A Spiderman Villain) prequel and even being a prequel to Cloverfield but both of these have been denied.
As strange as it sounds, the film might have been more enjoyable overall had it had ties to either the Cloverfield or Spiderman franchises. As a stand alone film, ‘Life’ just feels lifeless, with an underdeveloped character list, an all-too-familiar story and cliched plot devices (Oh you’ve lost communication with Earth? Isn’t that convenient!), ‘Life’ is a missed opportunity and its denial to try anything new is its ultimate downfall.