Remember the episode of Friends where Rachel tries to cook something for once but it turns out that the recipes of a dessert and a beef dish got glued together and the unholy nonsensical abomination of savory and sweet breaks everyone? Well don’t go see Life unless you’re Joey.
Life takes the scripts from Gravity and Alien and shuffles them together. I don’t mean it draws from both of them. And I don’t just mean that the clichéd pitch meeting in which every movie is described as Movie X meets Movie Y was definitely absolutely and without a doubt this:
Disposable executive one: “Dude, it’s Gravity meets Alien!”
Disposable executive two: “Bro, we’ve already got Deadpool and that Mission Impossible chick.”
Disposable executive one: “Dude!”
Disposable executive two: “Bro!”
Disposable executive one: “Let’s go hunt poor people for sport!”
*cocaine is snorted all around*
No, I mean that the entire movie is just scenes from those two movies stapled together. A tentacle’s gonna go down a mouth, a space station is gonna disintegrate in slow motion debris showers, and will there be a makeshift flamethrower that accomplishes nothing? You betchya! Except somehow in doing this, the script writers managed to remove absolutely every semblance of intelligence from both scripts. This is the entire script:
1. Alien is brought aboard.
2. Crew member waxes trite philosophy
3. Alien eats someone
4. Alien is isolated
5. Someone does something stupid to break quarantine
6. Go to #2
For two mind-numbing hours we watch that fucking loop happen until they run out of crew members. It is cataclysmically boring to watch the same twelve minutes of idiocy on repeat over and over again. That’s especially so when it’s directed with the somberness of 2001 but the brains of Armageddon.
The movie apes at films like The Martian or Gravity in that it pretends to be hard science fiction with an emotional core, but it accomplishes neither.
If you have even watched those two movies, you know more about near future space exploration than the writers of Life, which includes scientific gems like the international space station having escape pods that can be piloted into deep space, but only with a manual override of a pilot flying stick. I really hope Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t watch this movie, because I think it will literally murder him.
As for the emotional core of the movie? Well, every character is defined as a quick caricature with no actual characterization. There’s Deadpool, PTSD pilot, Russian commander lady, dude who just became a father, world’s shittiest biologist (LET’S TASE IT TO SEE WHAT IT DOES), and world’s shittiest quarantine specialist. Apparently that’s a thing. She even announces it as her job title. And apparently the training mostly revolves around how to break quarantine as often as conceivably possible, what with the fact that at no point in the movie’s run time does she last more than three minutes without breaking quarantine. Phil Tippett is finally off the hook, because goddamnit Rebecca Ferguson. You. Had. One. Job.
It’s really hard to ever care about the fate of characters when the Nostromo crew’s septic system had more brain cells than this crew. Forget the xenomorph, these characters wouldn’t be able to survive Jonesy.
This movie was so profoundly stupid and unenjoyable that it not only made me actively angry for having wasted time watching it, but cancelled out at least two of my college degrees in the process. I’m not sure if I could pass a GED right now. Given the talent involved in this and the clear budget tossed at special effects and two hours of weightlessness, it is inexcusable that this movie couldn’t at least manage to be an enjoyable sci-fi distraction.
Dr. Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here.