Daniel Espinosa‘s Life (Columbia, 3.24) is bullshit — an absolutely dreadful, soul-draining Alien ripoff. It’s basically just another CG display show (the monster is an unstoppable CG jellyfish-sting ray named Calvin) and an assurance of death among a crew of six on an International Space Station, and a question of how painful and gorey or grotesque their endings will be. We’re talking about rote handbook plotting, completely tired and 100% predictable…no snap, no freshness…unimaginative, uninvolving, checking my watch every 15 minutes.
Any critic who gives this thing a thumbs-up should never, ever be trusted again. Despite its first-rate CG and production values, Life is the very definition of a derivative piece of dogshit. On top of which Espinosa makes it perfectly clear at the finale that a sequel called Life: Eat The Earthlings is almost certainly in the offing. Don’t flatter yourself, pal. The only factor behind green-lighting this thing was a belief that the Calvin CG would be so cool that audiences wouldn’t be able to resist.
I was rooting for Calvin like my son Jett roots for the N.Y. Giants. For the cardinal sin of stupidity I wanted to see the crew members (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya) die horrible slithery deaths…”get them, Calvin!….get them!…die, actors, die!” And since I didn’t give a damn about any of them and was also bored stiff by Calvin (too omnipotent, too slithery, no weaknesses, no intrigue), the film seemed to take about two and half hours to end, even though the running time is 103 minutes.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that you and a slithery monster are sharing a space capsule that’s about to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere. You’re dead meat and you know it — no hope. But before the monster crawls into your mouth and transforms your bodily organs into currant jelly, you have a chance to make an adjustment. You can angle the capsule’s re-entry so that the heat shield doesn’t protect the capsule from the furnace-like conditions that occur during re-entry, which would cause the capsule to burn and melt and disintegrate into 10,000 flaming cinders. Which would kill the monster and save countless earthlings from a terrible fate. If you have any heroism or nobility it’s the only thing to do.
So do you do this? Do you suffer a furnace-like death for the good of humanity? Naaahh — you re-enter the atmosphere in the usual John Glenn way and bring the monster down to earth, safe and sound.