Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writers: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds and Olga Dihovichnaya
A team of celestial explorers on a fact-finding mission unearth an organism from the soil on Mars. The excited astronauts report their findings to Earth and celebration commences. The masses are fascinated by the discovery and the team is encouraged to learn as much as possible. Unfortunately, elation soon turns to terror as tiny organism quickly evolves into a monstrous creature beyond their expectations and control. What was once regarded as a harmless creature morphs into Earth’s biggest threat which forces the crew into a fight to the death to save Earth from annihilation.
The pace of the film is incredibly slow at first, but make sure you stick around, it gets much better. The usual boring back story, of the astronaut’s mission, fills up the first quarter of the film. Movie addicts will likely spend this “down” time making inaccurate predictions about who dies first and how the story will end. Trust us, you will be wrong, as this story takes the familiar and adds a few good twists. Director Daniel Espinosa may take his sweet time getting to the action, but he doesn’t hold back on the special effects and visuals. The space station is massive and the audience is treated to floating views of its entirety and it is breathtaking. The Martian creature “Calvin”, is an eerily graceful cross between an amoeba and a jellyfish. Until it strikes it’s almost cute. Espinosa does not keep it hidden and instead shows exactly what it is capable of. You can actually see the organism take control of its prey and then completely drain the life from it, leaving only a hair or two. In the first kill scene, a small animal is engulfed by the creature and the effect is a grim example of the fate that awaits the astronauts, and possibly Earth, if the creature takes hold.
Ryan Reynolds gives the audience his usual adorable rebel act, spewing out punchlines and scaring the crew with his antics. His wit is a greatly appreciated, as the rest of the cast is somber for the much of the film’s duration. Jake Gyllenhaal, is Reynolds’s polar opposite and revisits his Donnie Darko days, as the brooding and creepy former soldier “David Jordan”. He spends a lot of the film lurking in the background. In every single close up he is teary eyed and scowling. His dreary countenance is explained in a telling scene where he is explaining his love of space and why he doesn’t care to ever go back to Earth.
As a whole, the film is highly entertaining and a welcome but horrifying break from reality. Despite its science fiction label, there is enough realism to make you wonder about life out there in space. Honestly, if there is anything out there as ghastly as “Calvin” we hope no one finds it. We also hope it never finds us. In fact, we’re just going to play it safe and avoid all Calvin’s from now on. LIFE hits theaters tomorrow, Friday, March 24th!