ANOTHER GOOD MONSTER FLICK
Film Review by Fiore
I must commend the Hollywood studios. This year already, they released some fine monster movies: THE GREAT WALL; KONG: SKULL ISLAND; SPLIT; DON’T KILL IT; THE VOID; and now LIFE. LIFE boasts an all-star cast, and very talented folk behind the camera.
Years ago, technically I should say decades, a schlock-b sci-fi film found a following and became a cult classic. It was IT: TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE. It was a regular on Chilly Billy’s Chiller Theatre. It was about a trip to Mars that ends in disaster. A research space crew returns to Earth, unaware a Martian creature is a stowaway on their ship. The creature systematically eliminates the crew members, as they desperately attempt to kill the creature before they land on Earth. LIFE is basically the same story, but with better SFX and a bigger budget.
For LIFE, it’s best to explore the technicians first. Seamus McGarvey is Director of Photography. He is best known for his work with Director Ridley Scott, but within the past few years, he has worked on two FIST OF FIORE AWARD winners: Gareth Edward’s GODZILLA; and Ben Affleck’s THE ACCOUNTANT. His work in LIFE is exemplary, as many of his visuals highlight the film’s tension. There is one sequence of the crew fighting the creature in an air tunnel, that is a bit confusing, mainly due to the zero gravity elements; but, overall, the visuals are great.
Nigel Phelps is Production Designer and responsible for bringing the monster, “Calvin”, to life (pun intended). He worked on Brad Pitt’s WORLD WAR Z, the TRANSFORMER movie series and THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, with Jet Li, which featured abdominal snowmen, dragons and harpies in addition to mummies. He also served as Art Director for Tim Burton’s BATMAN.
Jon Ekstrand pens an epic score. The end credit theme is worth sitting through until the end. It is the sixth time Ekstrand collaborated with Director Daniel Espinosa, but it is his most ambitious work to date.
1.1 KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. THE RAT
2. BATTLE IN THE AIR LOCK
3. ROD SERLING ENDING
An orbiting space station is due to receive a capsule module returning from an eight-month sample gathering expedition on Mars. Among the samples, the scientist find life; a single cell, constructed like the cells on Earth. This one, however, begins to show extremely aggressive behavior and soon begins to grow at a rapid pace.
The scientists on the space station are: Jake Gyllenhaal; Ryan Reynolds; Rebecca Ferguson; Olga Dihovichnaya; Hiroyuki Sanada; and Ariyon Bakare.
LIFE takes about 22 minutes to set up the premise and characters. During that time, the movie drags; however, if you make it through the warm-up. The rest is a thrill ride.
Let’s look at the report card for LIFE:
ACTION = A
CINEMATROGRAPHY = A
SOUND/MUSIC = A
EDITING = B
LIGHTING = B
SCRIPT = B
SFX = A
ACTION = A
LIFE was not given a press screening. This is usually done when the studio has little faith in the film’s box office clout. On this one, they were wrong. See it on the big screen. It’s worth the price of admission.