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Review - 'Life' (2017) Why This is the Next 'Alien' Franchise

Updated on September 23, 2017
NessMovieReviews profile image

My passion is for films that scare the pants off you and I am always searching for movies that can do just that.

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What's it about?

Let’s not beat around the bush (Aussie slang for not mucking around here) Life, is about the life form formerly known as soil sample from Mars aka 'Calvin.

It’s not about the personalities of the crew on the spaceship. I found myself not remembering their names much so I shall call them what I wrote them down in my notes as.

Calvin got his name from some kid at a school who wins a competition, run by someone back on Earth while the spaceship was flying around on its way home. Everyone on board the spacecraft is video-linked with people back home, that's how they communicate. The spaceship is tech-savvy.

There is damage to the ship and a rascally Calvin on the loose. Will Calvin survive or will the space crew survive? I think it’s a race to the finish.

Movie Specifications

  • Movie Title:Life
  • Director: Daniel Espinosa
  • Writer: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
  • Date of Release: March 2017 USA
  • Genre: Sci-fi Horror
  • Box Office: Costing $58 million to make, this took a cool $101 million at the cinema worldwide

Special effects in the movie 'Life' are phenonmenal
Special effects in the movie 'Life' are phenonmenal | Source

Trailer - Life (2017)

Rory (aka Engineer guy): This is some Re-Animator shit.

Ekaterina (aka Commander Lady): That's a very obscure reference.

Hugh (aka Biologist guy): Not for a nerd.

Rory : Not if you're a nerd

Calvin - if he could speak, he would probably ask to NOT be electrocuted. Perhaps this could have all been avoided.
Calvin - if he could speak, he would probably ask to NOT be electrocuted. Perhaps this could have all been avoided. | Source

'Calvin' — He's a Little Different to Alien

  1. Firstly the name—Alien, doesn't have one and Calvin is a fairly innocuous name for what becomes a pretty noxious creature from outer space. All muscle and brain as it’s initially described.
  2. The crew on the spaceship muck around with temperatures to see what effects it will have on Calvin. Temperatures rising cause him to grow, compared with Alien who can handle just about anything.
  3. Because Calvin is dormant or ‘sleeping’ as they suggest, the next step is to electrocute him of course. Calvin is not a fan of electrocution and after innocently trying to get the nasty electrocution stick and the hand that holds it away from him— he becomes free in the lab. Nothing ever ends well when it’s responding to electrocution. Alien doesn't like electrocution either it makes him cranky too, so they have some similarities.
  4. Everyone thinks Cal can’t survive without air, just like Alien. They assume that he was dormant because there isn’t much air on Mars where he hitched a ride from, so they figure outside might be a good place for him to hang out.
  5. Calvin is no dummy and neither is Alien, they both are very proficient with hide-and-seek and also working out complex puzzles and figuring out how to kill people.
  6. Granted the face of Calvin and the face of the alien in the Alien movies are a little the same but Calvin is a supped up version of that. The original Alien needs many egg pods and a mummy to make its brothers and sisters come to life. Calvin just needs a cuddle. Though we don't really know if Calvin is alone now do we?

Jake Gyllenhaal just loves being in space. He finds it so very relaxing...until he met Calvin
Jake Gyllenhaal just loves being in space. He finds it so very relaxing...until he met Calvin | Source

My Thoughts on Life

I certainly think this may take up the spot that the completion of the Alien movies will leave behind if they continue with more 'Life' movies. It's modern and shiny.

Very rarely do I yell at the screen but at around the 35-minute mark, I found a few “no, no, no’s!” Escaping my lips. I was tense. This is the type of movie that is so fast paced, you wonder when it will be OK to use the loo, in my opinion this movie is too action paced to do so.

Who's Who on The Fancy Spaceship?

  • 'Biologist Guy'

(Played by Ariyon Bakare) discovers that the soil sample they have includes a single cell, subsequently everyone is excited about Calvin.

  • 'Quarantine Girl'

(Played by Rebecca Ferguson) is always taking notes in case, something requires quarantining.

Quarantine girl is not a huge fan of Calvin. Immediately I predict she may be one of the 'final girls.' She’s quarantine girl, after all, she knows not to go prodding and poking the alien Calvin bear. She was my prediction as a 'final girl' also based on her skill set and comparisons to Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies. She even has an English accent. Whether or not any of those predictions were correct, you will have to see the movie for yourself.

  • 'Engineer Guy'

(Played by Hiroyuki Sanada) finds they have lost their communication system so most if his time on screen is spent trying to fix it.

  • 'Commander Lady'

(Played by Olga Dihovichnaya) nominates herself to go outside and teach Calvin how to be an outside cell, until then, you wouldn't really know she was running things.

  • 'Mr. Medical'

(Played by Jake Gyllenhaal) watches closely for when she may need some medical attention. We learn Mr. Medical likes space, like a lot. It relaxes him. He likes the hum of space. It’s his happy place. What does this tell me about his possible fate?

  • 'Engineer Guy'

(Played by Ryan Reynolds) swaps places with Bio guy and tries to calm Calvin down using a flame thrower that relies on the ship's fuel. Cupboards are opened carefully to try and find him. The audience is connected first to Engineer guy Skyping his wife while in labour.

We see that Engineer guy has a dog - this is the end of information on this character They tell us nothing more about his life – again I made assumptions. He has a dog! Everyone cares about dogs! I made a prediction here, but was I right?

I did some research about how this film was made after seeing it as the opening scene had me wondering whether they had access to zero gravity at all. They didn’t. They did something called a “one off” whereby the scene is set up and made with all the magic of film using ropes and pulleys and green walls and special effects and then all sticky taped or inserted together later. I would normally swear here – but instead, I will say – Gosh! Good job!!

We see fancy pants stuff like people eating peas in zero gravity and using a yo-yo to show the people back on Earth how cool it is in space. They bob around while sitting at a table talking to each other – because – well, zero gravity. I was seriously impressed to learn there was not, in fact, zero gravity.

They sleep like vampires would – except the pods here are positioned upright, another cool detail, for the zero gravity look because how could they sleep laying down without suffocating against the roof of their pod at night? Another detail that was not overlooked by the makers.

If I’m watching a horror movie, I always try to pick the next death according to the rules of horror, who will die first, or at all. In a good horror movie, a connection with the audience is always created or missed on purpose, so the viewer can either be sad about their death or, no connection is made – and will be warmed up to the death of someone significant because they killed someone insignificant, this was definitely the case in this movie.

I really liked it – it was exciting. It’s very rare these days that a movie makes my pulse race. This did. The cast seemed a little disjointed to me – however, I read that the producer thinks that makes ill-fated decision-making work in a movie like this and I think he is right. I did tend to allow them a little leeway for being essentially a little dumb when dealing with Calvin.

I think the up and comer actors will jump on board any new movies and we might see an improvement in the next casting. I also think and the next round might be even more exciting. That’s a winner in my eyes.

I give Life 4 bobbing astronauts out of 5.

Calvin - the updated version of the original Alien
Calvin - the updated version of the original Alien | Source

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5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Life

The Writers

These two... Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are extremely impressive people as far as their list of written goodness goes.

Sometimes I get goosebumps when I see a list of things a writer and producer has written and this is one of those times. With titles like Zombieland (2009), G.I Joe (2013), Deadpool (2016) which they wrote and produced together and Cruel Intentions 3 (2004) written by just Rhett, I get tingles knowing that Zombieland 2 and Deadpool 2 are just around the corner for my viewing pleasure showing as TBA’s on their 'to do list.' They have done one or two other things and a show called The Joe Schmo Show, however, I’ve never heard of that – nor their other musings, but given their other successes, I might just have to check it out.

Let’s just note that Zombieland and Deadpool are on my list of favourite movies so I am very keen to see where they take the Calvin 'character.'

I don’t much care that it’s a bit of a rip off of the Alien concept – Alien is nearly finished its franchise I think and this, although similar in context, is not exactly the same so I’ll take it and smile, thank you very much, Rhett and Paul.

Rory (aka Deadpool): Control, if you're listening, and you probably are 'cause you're creepy that way, can I just rant for a second about the micromanagement? We're not blood-filled meat puppets. I come from a long line of plumbers that can fix a shower, but I can't. Well, Hugh doesn't shower anyway - he's British. It's not being critical, you're just a very under-bathed nation; everybody knows it.

Ryan Reynolds aka 'Deadpool' himself, stars in this Zero Gravity spacey, choc full of goodness movie.
Ryan Reynolds aka 'Deadpool' himself, stars in this Zero Gravity spacey, choc full of goodness movie. | Source

Who's In it?

If you like the concepts and plot surrounding Alien without the blood soaked rib cracking expulsions of that series of movies – perhaps this is something you will enjoy. If this movie spawns a sequel, then I believe this will take over the spot left behind when the Alien movies are completed.

That's not how I came to watch this movie though - I watched this because I saw that Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds were in it while watching the trailer.

I never much cared for Jake Gyllenhaal after his initial rise to cult fandom in Donnie Darko, however, he’s popped up in a few random movies I have watched recently and they were fantastic. As he stars alongside Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool 2016) and because anyone who’s anyone is crushing on that particular movie, I thought to myself – these two are on fire now and everyone knows actors on fire turn up in the next great thing. I knew I would be in for a treat.

I like a bit of space horror/thriller combination, usually, and in this case - that's a winner.

The original Alien (1979) "Where no one can hear you scream"

© 2017 Vanessa's Non Spoilers

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    • NessMovieReviews profile image
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      Vanessa's Non Spoilers 4 weeks ago from Moreton Bay, Queensland

      @Dale, glad I got your attention. Im also glad you liked Nigtcrawler too, it was a good flick. I deffo recommend watching this - I certainly has a good time finding comparisons to Alien. Nice to see another Aussie on here as well.

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      Dale Anderson 4 weeks ago from The High Seas

      Ok that is a GREAT title for this piece and it sucked me in right away. I couldn't help but think "Why? Why is it the next Alien franchise? Those are mighty big boots to fill." So intrigued was I by the very idea of the title alone, that I started reading immediately. Now let me say up front that I am no Jake Gyllenhaal fan, in fact, I avoid some movies just because he is in them. Except for that NightCrawler movie, that was excellent. But your review has got me looking to find this movie now. Thanks for putting me on to it!

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      Vanessa's Non Spoilers 7 weeks ago from Moreton Bay, Queensland

      @violet Interesting prediction regarding where the sequel will begin, I think you may be right there making Earth look like its all ok at first glance. I grew up on Alien movies so I'll always think the originals are better. Nothing beats Sigourney Weaver and her love affair with the life forms from Outer Space, but I truly did like this version for a story too. Can's wait to read your review of it, I'm sure you will add many more predictions.

    • Violets3 profile image

      Violet 7 weeks ago from California

      OK. Now I got to read the review. Heh. Great review. You certainly enjoyed it more than me...though i think we are both excited if there ends up being a second one. I honestly think there is more potential for this film than the alien series (seeing as were it's going now)...And im extremely curious how our planet will look like in the second film. Probably normal...at first anyways! Ha. Never underestimate your enemy!!!!

      ps: I usually stay up late on days that I have no college. I'm trying to enjoy a terrible sleep schedule before fall semester starts. Then it gets so crazy I'm going to wish I had more sleep....

    • NessMovieReviews profile image
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      Vanessa's Non Spoilers 7 weeks ago from Moreton Bay, Queensland

      @Louise, thanks very much!

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      Louise Powles 7 weeks ago from Norfolk, England

      I wouldn't mind watching this. Your article was very thorough and indepth. It sounds like an interesting film.

    • NessMovieReviews profile image
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      Vanessa's Non Spoilers 8 weeks ago from Moreton Bay, Queensland

      @violet, whatcha doin up so late?

      Dont forget to do the poll, and thanks for dropping by!

    • Violets3 profile image

      Violet 8 weeks ago from California

      I'll read this review tomorrow(it's past 3am..lol)....I thoroughly enjoyed this film...but this movie had a lot of stupid moments. I plan on reviewing this film soon too. It gave me the Alien: Covenant vibe (including the stupid people). lol. But you know..it's an outer space alien movie..Im gonna like it regardless of what happens. Ha.