More noise than signal


Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

A probe containing Martian soil samples returns to the International Space Station to the welcoming arms of the crew, who set about poking and prodding it. Of particular significance, the discovery of a frozen single celled organism, proving the life exists outside of Earth.

Using his powers of scientific necromancy, Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) commands the space beastie to rise from its grave, and it does, and starts growing at a surprising rate. Like all summoned demons, the life form yearns to be free of its masters and sets about achieving this, first by breaking Hugh’s arm and then by killing Ryan Reynolds, so it’s not all bad.

It’s been a relatively interesting half hour or so to this point, if not outright discussing at least pointing at the implications of extraterrestrial life for us as a species, and for once have scientists act like they’re not complete morons (hello, Alien: Covenant!). However, once the indiscriminately murderous space beastie is on the loose, it becomes much like every other Alien knock-off made since the late seventies, albeit with much more money thrown at it.

This has afforded it some decent effects work, and a cast much better than the script deserves, but it can’t escape it’s B-movie roots for the last whole hour, leading up to a wildly unsatisfactory ending.

This, much like Passengers, is the sort of film that not too long ago would have been given a relatively restrained budget, come out to some mild interest and passable reviews, made it’s money back and quietly disappeared. However, with studios current obsession with all or nothing gambles, Life has had too much cash pumped into the production and the promotion for the rickety script to contain, and any original qualities this film had leaked out at the seams.

It’s not a horrible film, to be clear, but it’s also not one that’s of any real interest, recycling the genre tropes we’ve seen a few dozen times before, although usually not this polished. Still, it’s a film based on a concept whose time came and went along with Tamagotchis and Pogs, while we’ve all moved on to Fidget Spinners.