Film review: Life an off-brand Alien movie

If you have ever seen the Alien movies, the plot from Life may intrigue you as the plot finally unfolds after the first half hour or so.

Ultimately, it is like every science fiction movie out there in that the setting takes place on a spaceship and the crew ultimately encounters hostile aliens. However, it has its deep moments.
The start of the film started out with the camera slowly panning in the scenes with the space crew, as though director Daniel Espinosa could not make up his mind as to what he wanted to do. Also, once I heard that the space crew had captured a microscopic species from Mars, I rolled my eyes.

It seems like every plot is similar in the science fiction genre which makes me wonder how long the redundancy will continue. Film critic Peter Debruge agrees.

“As ‘we are not alone’ scenarios go, Life is no exception, although it’s unusually intelligent for so much of its running time,” Debruge said in his own review for Variety adding in the next few sentences that the ending disappointed him.

While I feel like Hollywood is stumped for ideas, I do have to say that Life does explore the meaning of life and its sacred value in comparison to discovery of new life. For example, a baby is born while his dad, one of the crew members, is away in space while another character contemplates his time in military services and expresses that he feels he belongs more in space than on Earth. There are also at least a couple instances where the other crew members sacrifice themselves for the sake and for the safety of the others at different points.

When we are first introduced to “Calvin, the specimen named after an elementary school, he appears to be a tiny, translucent, and tame creature who is curious about exploring his environment. He wants to get to know the crew members as much as they want to become acquainted with him.

One of the characters from the film even comments that his “curiosity outweighs his fear.” The space crew then secures him in a case so they can observe his behaviors.

That very subtle detail of Calvin’s curiosity sheds light on some uncanny symbolism and foreshadowing in that innocence is not always what it appears to be. Sometimes, for instance, we can consider children to be pretty naive, but as they grow up, they turn into monsters, and that’s exactly what Calvin did.

The space crew noticed Calvin’s hurried growth after he began absorbing what was around him, including (and this is only hinted at) the characters’ own feelings about other life forms. Another character also puts into the question of what Calvin may be able to do for humanity such as regarding stem cell research. But then something happens.

As Calvin’s size enlarges, he attacks the hand one of a crew member, Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) until it goes limp. Calvin also kills the lab rat, then returns and squeezes the oxygen out of Hugh and is successful with killing several of the other crew members throughout the film’s running time. They fend off Calvin, but even using a disintegrator weapon does not work.

Nothing quenches Calvin’s thirst for human blood. By the end of the film, only two of the crew members survive and both conjure a plot that will result in one of those two sacrificing themselves. But plans fall through not as planned, and could lead to drastic consequences on Earth.

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