Oh my God! How did I miss this film for so long? Life is a claustrophobic and gruesome masterpiece that is far away from being a creature flick but at the same time has a monster that will make you shit your pants. This film is a testimony to the fact that the size of the monster counts for nothing when you have an interesting mythology of the character and engaging screenplay to back it up. Life’s monster looks like a plant for over an hour of the film’s run-time but not even for a second do you not feel afraid of it after it claims its first victim. Propelled by terrific performances and great action set pieces, Life easily turns out to be a science fiction horror flick to reckon with.
A group of scientists living on the boundaries just outside earth’s atmosphere are engaged in the task of studying various life forms. After a lot of effort, they finally lay hands on a pod that holds a dormant organism from Mars. After tweaking the atmosphere of its container, the organism is brought back to life. As time passes, the creature, now christened Calvin grows faster and faster showing unique traits. The scientists learn that the creature is not only intelligent but has an uncanny knack for survival. Soon the scientists come into direct conflict with Calvin who now starts taking the scientist out one by one. It’s only a matter of time before Calvin is done with the scientists on boards and makes a move to reach earth.
Life is a tense and scary affair from the moment the creature comes to its own. It shows such miraculous traits and develops so fast that you can only imagine what it will do next. The scene where it devours a rat was one of the most effectively scary scenes in the film. As is the case with the scientists, we hardly know anything about the creature and we don’t know what it can do. Thus as we go along, we learn new things about it and every time we think that the scientists have him, he just turns a new leaf and does something scarier. There is a scene where one of the scientists goes out of the ship to repair a certain component and has to fend off against the creature. This scene is so well done and is so affecting at an emotional level that you are filled with nothing but hate for the creature. You just want it to die but that doesn’t just happen. Hence your frustration builds and builds and there is just no respite.
The film boasts of some superb visual effects. The creature in itself has a character of its own and owing to the fact that it is completely CG it would not have been possible had the visual effects not been top notch. It all starts with ooh! and wow! But soon turns into screaming and running and panting. It all works so fine because the character is believable and scary. Apart from the creature design, the sets also are extremely authentic. I constantly got a feeling very similar to what I got while watching Gravity. The interiors of the ship as also some of the sequences shot outside the ship are beautifully rendered. Life is visually right up there with the very best. The film’s ending left me bewildered. Really I wasn’t expecting what happens in the end and it kind up sets up for a sequel which I believe will not a bad idea.
Coming to the performances, Jake Gyllenhaal leads from the front. What I loved about his performance was the amount of restraint that he shows all the way through. I really loved the scene where we get to understand his mental state when he shares with a team member the reasons for him being in space so long and loving it. Alter for a great part of the film, he takes a back seat from the proceedings and then again in the latter half of the film he assumes importance and takes center stage. Rebecca Ferguson is my next favorite in the film. I loved her act in Mission impossible Rouge Nation and here she takes a 360-degree turn from her act in that film and turns in another superb performance. This act no only shows us her range it also shows us that she can be just as effective in an otherwise de-glammed version of her. This was something hard to accept owing to her turn in Mission impossible but once you are done watching this film, you will believe the fact.
Ryan Reynolds is his usual talkative self. He is just so likable that you are willing to accept his repetitive comedy just owing to his likeability. Ariyon Bakare plays the most thoughtful of the characters and he is also the one who meets the most gruesome end. He brings about a sense of disconnect from humanity and connection to the other organism through his act which you are really taken into. You question his beliefs and actions at many junctures but can’t help and pay attention to whatever he has to say owing to the sheer power of his performance. Hiroyuki Sanada is apt as Sho.
Overall, Life is an enthralling thriller that borderlines on horror. It has great performances, superb special effects and terrific drama to keep you engrossed from start to finish. It is one of the most underrated films of this year so far and it would be blasphemous to miss this fantastic film. I could go on and on and on about this film but that wouldn’t be wise as it would only spoil the film for you. It’s one of those films that you should experience firsthand before reading of hearing any review. You won’t regret it.
Rating : 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)