Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating *
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare, Hiroyuki Sanada, Naoko Mori, Alexandre Nguyen, Camiel Warren-Taylor, Hiu Woong-Sin.
It has been mooted, suggested beyond all possible doubt in some quarters, that there simply are no new ideas out there, that everything is basically a re-hash, a do-over, a chance for art to keep repeating itself over and over again. Whilst this may be in some cases a false premise, that the world will always find an interesting new angle in which to demonstrate the greatest of humanity’s crowning glory, imagination, in many ways the doom laden soothers are right, there is nothing new under the sun and by poking at the impossible creature, we are not exactly creating new Life, we are sucking the soul out of it.
If only Alien had never existed then perhaps the premise of Life would have been more eagerly awaited, more sensationally consumed and poured over as groundbreaking and devastating on the senses, if only Alien had not changed the landscape of what Science Fiction and Horror could do when combined in an attempt to heighten the fears of the audience, to give in to the primal feeling of dread that we are not the meanest organism in the Universe, that there is always something more terrifying in the dark waiting to pick us off one by one…if only.
Alien exists and despite a couple of truly rotten explorations into the world of cinematic despair, it survives as an omnipresent nightmare in those who have the good fortune to be scared witless by it, especially the first and best in the franchise. Life will out though and there will always be that slight turn in events in which a film can claim to stand alongside the biggest and the best; unfortunately Life does not do that and whilst the thought of a film being able to stand toe to toe with the scariest of them all is appealing, Life is not that film.
It is not even in the sense of the new life form that the crew of the International Space Station have in their laboratory, it is the complete underwhelming feel of the situation in which the actors portray which makes it so ineffective, this is a film in which the best thing to happen is the thought of humanity ending so they might never have to put themselves through this again. Save for Ryan Reynolds’ short time on screen there is no sense of terror in the eyes, this is a shame but perhaps to be expected. Jake Gyllenhaal, normally a paragon of unselfish acting skill and one who demands the best out of every character he plays is left dangling like bait on the end of a hook and Rebecca Ferguson, a star of unimaginable acting wealth is made to look as if she has spent all her career in the realms of reality television.
Life will out, it is just a shame that nobody thought to dispose of it earlier.
Ian D. Hall