Magazine article Screen International

'Life': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Life': Review

Article excerpt

Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal form part of a 'space smorgasbord for a snacking alien' in the latest from Sweden's Daniel Espinosa

Dir. Daniel Espinosa. US. 2017. 103 mins

The fingerprints – or perhaps more appropriately the teeth marks – of Ridley Scott's Alien are in evidence all over Daniel Espinosa's space-set horror Life. The difference here is that members of the human crew of the Mars Pilgrim 7 mission have helped create the highly adaptable and very hungry monster which terrorises them – it is man's hubris, as much as any voracious space squid, which is a threat to humanity's continued existence. And while Scott's film remains, unquestionably, the benchmark for this genre, Life's combination of a photogenic cast and arresting cinematography and FX should go some way towards countering its somewhat predictable plotting.\

The long-awaited next installment in the Alien series, Scott's Alien: Covenant, is due in cinemas in just under two months time. And while that would be more of a problem if the release dates were reversed, the closeness of the two pictures doesn't bode well for Life's longevity on the cultural landscape. That said, the star pull of Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds (playing a jaded space veteran and a gung-ho hotshot respectively), together with the film's striking visuals, should help persuade audiences that there is room for two films which turn the crew of galactic rescue vessel into a space smorgasbord for a snacking alien.

A bravura opening sequence has more in common with Emmanuel Lubezki's flashy balletics on Gravity than it does with the more naturalistic approach of Alien. Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey captures a daring spacewalk and satellite recapture in what appears to be a meticulously choreographed zero gravity single shot. The vessel had crucial scientific value as it contained earth samples from Mars, among which is an inert single-celled organism. …

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