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Life

Life

Directed by Daniel Espinosa. Starring Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hiroyuki Sanada, Naoko Mori. (2017, R, 103 min.)

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., March 31, 2017

In the reincarnated horror film Life, the real dread comes from the feeling you’ve seen it all before. The screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick immediately plops you into its derivative scenario without any narrative foreplay: An international space station orbiting Earth intercepts a space probe carrying a Martian soil sample containing a dormant life-form of superior intelligence and indestructible physiology, one that’s foolishly rejuvenated by human intervention. The predatory organism exponentially evolves through a Darwinian instinct for survival, killing off the hapless members of the crew one by one with a relentless objective in mind. One little, two little, three little astronauts … Any of this sound the least bit familiar? It’s got everything but a mewing cat named Jonesy. The translucent, squid-like thing slithering amok in Life is called “Calvin” after our 30th president and, like Coolidge, it has no real personality to speak of. Initially looking like a cute anchovy, it develops into a rubbery mass with tentacles that grip like a boa constrictor and a tiny echinoderm orifice hungry for any available source of nutrition. This abstract parasitic creature is hardly the stuff of nightmares. Didn’t The Blob teach us anything about the need for terror to have a face?

The expendable cast in the film barely registers as each character expires in various preordained sequence. (Spoiler alert: Reynolds’ cocky pilot is a supporting character.) Noble self-sacrifice, rather than complete stupidity, is the leading cause of death. The lack of emotional investment in these people undercuts some of the suspense of whether they live or die, though the film valiantly urges us to care about them using the occasional backstory, such as the birth of the Japanese systems engineer’s new child back home. As the slightly oddball senior medical officer holding the record for most consecutive days in space, Gyllenhaal’s Dr. Jordan makes for an ineffectual action hero, while his counterpart, Ferguson’s Dr. North, at least evokes a modicum of sadness once the crew’s fate becomes inevitably clear. But by the end, however, the movie’s predictable wind-down and ho-hum twist at the end make this Life hardly worth living. In space, no one can hear you yawn.

Cinemark Hill Country Galleria 14

12812 Hill Country Blvd., Bee Cave  800/326-3264

www.cinemark.com/theater_showtimes.asp?theater_id=377

SAT APR 29

digital: 9:30

SUN APR 30

digital: 10:40

MON MAY 01

digital: 9:30

TUE MAY 02

digital: 9:30

WED MAY 03

digital: 9:30

Starplex 12 San Marcos

1250 Wonder World Drive, San Marcos  512/805-8000

SAT APR 29

11:40am, 5:00, 10:20

SUN APR 30

11:40am, 5:00, 10:20

MON MAY 01

11:40am, 5:00, 10:20

TUE MAY 02

11:40am, 5:00, 10:20

WED MAY 03

11:40am, 5:00, 10:20
READ MORE
More Daniel Espinosa Films
Child 44
Tom Hardy leads an international cast in this Soviet-era serial killer thriller

Marjorie Baumgarten, April 24, 2015

Safe House
This hectic, deftly edited, and unexpectedly bracing thriller stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds.

Marc Savlov, Feb. 10, 2012

More by Steve Davis
Graduation
A man goes to great lengths to secure a better life for his daughter

April 28, 2017

The Lost City of Z
A futile quest for an extraordinary place

April 21, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Life, Daniel Espinosa, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hiroyuki Sanada, Naoko Mori

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