Director: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya. USA. 1h 50m
The lack of originality in this horror sci fi is quite disturbing, not only the story pretty basic, but it could have lead to some riveting situations, but the set up is like a b movie horror, if there was a trail of blood leading to a room of screams the cast would trip over each other running into sudden death. But there is a blinding moment at the “oh fuck” ending which really hit a personal nerve with me otherwise the film would be a total disaster.
An unnamed interstellar mission uncovers a basic life form in some soil samples from Mars. The probe is recovered by the International Space Station and their 6 member crew manage to revive a cell sample, which quickly evolves into a multi celled organism which American school children name Calvin. I can only imagine it started out as a piece of space Slime Mold (Check out the docu film Creeping Garden for a ton of info) An accident in the lab causes Calvin to become dormant, so Hugh Derry (Bakare) tries to shock Calvin back to life, this obviously pisses off Calvin who crushes his hands an in his hostile frame of alien mind then roughs up the doctor and starts smashing up the lab. At one point he breaks into a small cage and eat one of the lab rats, and starts to grow larger. Despite initiating safety protocol, which means isolating the doctor and Calvin, the team still decide to enter the room in order to save the doctor, (DOH!), Calvin then see this is a free lunch. This is probably one of their more imaginative attacks, as he enters the scientist body and eats him from the inside out, but upon reappearing he is larger, which is a pretty big indication to the fact that Calvin just consumes and grows. So after eating Ryan Reynolds our boy Calvin then decides to go on a murderous rampage in and around the ship.
The rest of the movie is just a mash of incredibly bad decisions and jazzy CG of the new alien life form. Despite the space station floating in such a hostile atmosphere, you would assume that it would be airtight, but the way that Calvin just manages to go in and out of the ship, I’d be very concerned if I was on board.
In all fairness, alien creatures either come as friends or foe in out cinematic adventures, and with this being a horror film it’s very clear which way the film was going to go. I suppose I personally just wasn’t expecting so many lame plotlines. what are the space station looked amazing, Calvin, looked more reminiscent of something from the Abyss (1989), and with no solid backstory, it’s hard to understand how something so versatile could ever have become that dormant.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the way the film is presented, the cast all very able to give a good performance, the effects are spot on, and with the massive budget; no corners have been cut. When the action takes place the scenes are tight and tense, there is one particular scene starring Hiroyuki Sanada, who traps himself inside a stasis pod while being attacked by Calvin, and it’s really gripping, but the only problem is how he got there in the first place. I guess I just have too many questions on the why and the how.
The film is often mentioned alongside with gravity, or gravity had no actual monsters I feel that’s the total opposite, everything about this film is incredible claustrophobic, where is the majesty In Gravity was to show the beauty and expansive space. where as the expensive space is the fear for the final scenes of the film… And this is the only part that really interested me, without giving too much away, one of the crew members comes up with an idea to jettison themselves along with Calvin into space to make sure that he never reaches Earth, and just the idea of being alone and dying and space has been a recurring nightmare for me, so this idea was the scariest part of the movie.
Generally I enjoyed the film, but afterwards I found myself asking too many questions, probably to get my mind off the ending, which I really enjoyed but the rest of the movie literally dropped out of my head after leaving the cinema.
It’s quiet ironic how a movie called life is so much about death, but I did find it quite “cute” how Calvin was an organism that just wanted to hold on to life not matter what, and seemed to be running on instinct, there was no communication or threat it just seemed to be reactions to stimuli and the need to live that is driving the creature, and in turn life =death.