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Duel Review: Life (Spoiler free) and Split (Spoilers)

Updated on March 26, 2017

Life, the story of an extraterrestrial organism brought over from Mars, carried aboard the International Space Station where it escapes and goes on a bloody rampage. The sci-fi thriller starring, Jake Gylenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, and Rebecca Ferguson tries to a hit home run too fast, and strikes out almost immediately in an attempt to become a Science Fiction classic in the spirit of Alien, and Gravity. Among many others. What seemed to be an intense, slow burn space horror flick from the trailers, turned into a laughable, and typical monster movie that is set loose to roam around the station, picking everyone off one by one.

The crew of six astronauts announces to the world that they have found proof of life beyond Earth when they discover a single cell organism that begins to move when the conditions inside the lab are changed to mimic Earth's climate. It grows rapidly, leaving no time for character development, in a sad attempt to get the action started as soon as possible which cheap scares. The characters are stripped down to basic two dimensional people, who say what they are thinking out loud to trick the audience into caring for them. Jake Gylenhaal had the worst lines of them all. He was given awkward, but short monologues to makes us believe that there is someone worth liking there. I guess? That was the plan?

The organism starts to sprout limbs, and after killing its way through half of the crew with ease, we are down to the final three astronauts only fifty minutes into the movie. The alien runs around in a comical fashion, spinning, and twirling through the air. Giving us no sense of a threat even though you see it killing crew members off in gory ways. They also showed the creature way too many times, taking away the mystery of it that Alien, Jaws, and Predator did so brilliantly.

"I remember when I saw my first picture of the Earth. I asked my dad, 'Where are all the lines you see on the map'. . . I miss him." Nearly an hour and thirty minutes in, after no character exposition, Rebecca Ferguson utters that pathetic line as if we cared by that point about her and the rest of them. She mentions her dad for a split second, and all of a sudden we are supposed to feel bad for her? Really? Yes, that was an actual line from the movie. Maybe not word for word. I'm going off by memory, but that was it in general sense. Then the ending tries to trick you with the most obvious twist. Never surprising you in any way, leaving you with a sense of disbelief the entire time.

You have seen this movie before, either done better, or on the SyFy network.

It was campy, never scary, horribly acted, even from our veteran actors, and visually nauseating. Director, Daniel Espinosa tried to get fancy by flipping the camera around and around in long takes over compensating for a lack of a script. After a while I wanted to shout at the screen, "Hold the Camera still!" This is one movie you skip, please. Save your money. But if you still want to watch it, then I say rent it! Or wait till it's on TV. That's all it's good for!

Spoilers! Don't read further.

M. Night Shyamalan returns with the creepy, claustrophobic thriller known as Unbreakable 1/2, uh, I mean, Split. Sorry. I let that slip out there for a second. Told you there would be spoilers.

It has been years since the director of the Sixth Sense has made anything worth while. And even though this is far from his best, it was his most entertaining in a long time. James McAvoy plays Kevin, a man with twenty-four multiple personalities living within him. He has a troubled past, and the personalities were created as a defense mechanism by his brain to keep him safe. McAvoy is a tour de force in this movie. Never over the top, always keeping himself constrained, but with a whole lot of crazy boiling just underneath the surface.

Many of Kevin's personalities conspire to kidnap two girls, with the third one just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ana-Taylor Joy plays, Casey Cooke. A troubled girl who was invited to a birthday party of a snobbish classmate who is accompanied by her also snobbish best friend. The two young teens are the intended targets, but when Casey gets offered a ride, she is taken along as well, and the three teens are put in an underground basement somewhere in Philadelphia.

Many of Kevin's personalities reveal themselves throughout the movie. All expressing that the girls will be offered as tribute to a terrible beast that will ultimately become the twenty-fifth manifestation in Kevin's mind. An evolved human set loose to purify the "Untouched." At the same time, Kevin has therapy sessions with a Psychiatrist named, Dr. Karen Fletcher. She has a suspicion Kevin has done something wrong when she starts to get secret emails from one of his personalities shortly after kidnapping the girls.

The movie is not heavily based on fact when it comes to Dissociative Identity Disorder, yet it is thrilling. The tension builds as director M. Night Shyamalan shows old flashes himself with precise camera work, making certain moments uncomfortable, while reflecting with each shot the madness within Kevin. The three girls were not the most talented actresses, but they did their best. The entire movie belonged to James McAvoy. Who is revealed to be a highly evolved human fit to go head to head with David Dunn. That's right! David Dunn from Unbreakable, played by Bruce Willis. In a shocking twist, it is revealed that this movie takes place in the same universe as M. Night sets the stage for what is to be Unbreakable number 2 in the upcoming years.

If you read that, don't get mad at me. I warned you about spoilers. But if you are an Unbreakable fan like me, then that shouldn't stop you. In fact, it should want to make you see the movie even more now. Everything leading up to the final twist was so well done, it could have stood on it's own. But now that we know it's part of something bigger, it makes all the more exciting, and I can't wait to re-watch it again. So what are you waiting for if you haven't seen it? It's about time that you do!


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