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While watching LIFE, I was reminded again and again of Journey to the Center of the Earth. There was a similar sense of wonder and peril, and the score was similarly diabolical and foreboding.
Jon Ekstrand's score for LIFE is practically a character in itself, a huge, pulsing vortex of cosmic doom, a caricature of science fiction scores from a bygone era, applied with startling effect. The very first sequence, simple as it is, portends the End of Times, in no small part thanks to the music that attends it. And the nauseating throb of the final scenes is pure horror gold.
This film very much feels like one of those big effects pictures from the late 50's / early 60's. Everything is hyper real, bigger than life, and utterly doomed. Our film makers understand that the harp of your soul need only be played on a few strings. There's even optimism, at the start, but it's quickly dispensed with and never seen again. LIFE made no attempt to soothe me, it took me exactly where I wanted to go, deep in the dark with a thing I can't comprehend, and kept me there, mercilessly, to the very last frame. That is fearless film making.
The antagonist in LIFE is life itself, the protection of it as much as protection from it. The second things go spectacularly south, our astronauts are thrust into a whole new reality, having to master their panic as things devolve into surreal menace, and the sense of being left to fate with no escape is strong and consistent from then on. Like life itself can be. The calamities that befall our crew are at once logical and incomprehensible, and humanity's lack of readiness is as much a villain as the creature itself.
The creature is unnerving even as a cell. At the size of a hand it's not just incredibly dangerous but primally sadistic and full of surprises, brimming with personality. It's method of digestion is alarming in that nightmare way you always wish someone would depict on screen, but can never quite describe. I am sick to death of bad monsters and this thing, even as a toddler, is what I've been waiting for, well, since Alien. In fact, it has one up on the dreaded MORB, this beast is brand new, with the potential of being almost impossible to anticipate and the next level sample of what cgi can provide.
The comparisons being made are both easy and inevitable. Gravity captured weightlessness and orbital disaster with unheard of clarity and style, but at the end of the day there are only so many ways to depict such a thing with realism. But Gravity was a serious film, not a monster movie looking suspiciously like Alien, except that save for the unsentimental setting and the stakes it's not really like Alien, either. It has a monster on a spaceship. Oh snap, I hoped to never see that again! Oh wait...
I do wish some things had been done differently, but I believe this is a matter of taste, and not worth arguing here. We can save that for after EVERYONE HAS SEEN IT. LOL. Joking aside (I am not joking. Buy a ticket. I'm watching you), I do believe if you want well made R rated material, and specifically imaginative space horror, you must vote with your dollars. I mean it when I say we're very lucky LIFE exists. Like Peter Weyland, I want more.
I think this movie suffers for being released in close proximity to a venerable chapter in the saga that gave this stuff a chance to breathe in the first place. I'm in hog heaven for that, but would hate to see the Giger Alien aesthetic dominate to the expense all other ideas. I like astronauts trapped with monsters. I hope something comes along to out-do LIFE. There's more that could be done, but I can't quite describe what it is.
I felt it did add something new, it took conventions of actual space and planetary studies that humans are doing now and introduced a fictional but yet somewhat plausible villain. We are studying Mars right now doing exactly what the characters in the movies are doing except the ones in Life come across a cellular organism in a soil sample and we are off. The scenario in this movie is more realistic than most movies of this genre, I think this realistic tone is what's new and sets it apart. Calvin is not created by some sentient race of beings that fly juggernauts nor is he some constantly changing life form that flies a flying saucer that is buried in Antarctica, Life is set in the now and Calvin is just a simple organism with one basic need. He is not nor exists because of some higher form of life in the universe, he's the cosmic equivalent of microorganisms that exist on earth that have been discovered in lava fields, buried in ice at the south poke or creatures living where no life should exist but they do. There are plenty of examples of odd micro creatures that have been found on earth.... So It's that sense of the here and now and how plausible the entire movie feels, it's that realism and plausibility that adds to the tension. Using realism is what this film adds that is new and it works, it works very well.
Many classics didn't add anything new to their respective genres but they are still classics because how they executed or told their story. The basic concept of Alien had been done before a million times, they just had a crazy good monster design and told a better tale through story, presentation and acting than the million similar monster hunts people tales that came before it.
Life is a high quality movie, I wish more movies were done this well, especially in the Sci fi genre
You guys are going to laugh the ending threw me with Jake going to Earth and his GF taking the long trip to nowhere. I think the GF taking the long trip was the most unnerving part of the movie for me.
Really good posts on this Topic!!
Dying in space...man, that's the stuff of nightmares, and one of the LONELIEST scenes in movie history is when they space-burial Kane in ALIEN...I love that scene for the Absolute Loneliness it speaks of.
I am really looking fwd to seeing LIFE!
IN SPACE THERE IS NO WARNING
totally agree with her taking the long trip. It's not the cliched Hollywood ending, it's bleak and hella dark.... Kind of like the movie version of The Mist.... The ending was unnerving and dark
Ending of the film SPOILER: on (two scape-pods) is just like an Alien "fourth act" with Ripley on the shuttle, and poorly achieved for a serious viewer in my opinion, and lacks credibility.
one of the scenes taken outside I swear to have seen jumping the bug like a Disney cartoon on the ship, that completely baffled me.
My veredict: interesting movie only.
The ending was dark but very predictable.
I'll be honest...I only watched Life because I used to have a crush on Jake Gyllenhaal when I was younger.
@ Foxxy_User “The ending was dark but very predictable”…Hmmm very dark indeed, but I’m not sure the ending was entirely predictable. The reason I say this is that…
The fishermen open the hatch they see that a “switch-a-roo” has happened between the astronauts and that Calvin has made it to Earth after all. Predicable – hmm…maybe so! :D
What I consider “unpredictable” is the fact that Calvin did not “kill” said astronaut - when all his prior behaviour interacting with the astronauts speaks volumes.
Also, my dear innocent Calvin has somehow - as Aorta puts it…“it was completely changed, but into what? Gyllenhall is still alive, but clearly begging them not to open the capsule. It looked like that stuff was growing through him”
All the other astronauts were killed in horrific ways…this astronaut was kept alive…why? Most people think that Calvin is ready to decimate all life on Earth, yet I am wondering if Calvin has imbedded himself within said astronaut so that he can…yeah I’m pretty sure I’m the only one gonna be thinking along these lines…but I will be brave.. and face the laughter ...and will say it anyway…I think Calvin is trying to/wanting to communicate! :D
LIFE doesn't break new ground, but then it doesn't claim to. It's just a very imaginative and well executed little movie. It's hard to innovate, especially within certain confines. Alien has been going on for almost 40 years with the only real innovation being Prometheus, and look how that went. And even then, the concepts of Prometheus weren't anything new, just well packaged.
Some things are just fun, and for me LIFE is high on the list. I like being intellectually stimulated, I like new, surprising ideas, but I also like weird monsters doing classically nasty stuff. And here, LIFE has one up on pretty much every space monster movie since Alien, with a creature that's unique, frightening and a little character to boot!
Newt- when I was 5 years old I saw The Blob on tv and it scared me to death, I think because it was truly otherworldly, not a guy in a suit, and it was so quiet and relentless, truly the stuff of nightmares. And it gave me nightmares, for a long time. My family tried to help by suggesting that I imagine it in funny ways, but there was no way to make that thing humorous.
I think you're trying to do the same thing now, to govern your terror by forcibly neutralizing the context of Calvin. I'm sorry, Newt, but it's hopeless. Calvin will get in. Suc***b, like Hugh did. Let it inhabit your nightmares, feed on your mind. Submit to the terror, Newt. There is no way out.
I kind of like the ending, after the escape capsules got bumped i thought they might go the route then movie did , but not until then, it wasnt like i expected the ending halfway through the movie or anything....but maybe they could have went with a better ending but i kind of like that it was dark and ambiguous with Rebecca Ferguson rocketing off into deep space to die a dark, cold death and Jake Gyllenhall's character trapped in the escape pod on earth with Calvin definitely exhibiting new behavior or sorts.
Not as well done but still a very fun movie...the ending is in the vein of John Carpenters The Thing, where their is clearly not a happy ending for either of our last two protagonists but the movie leaves it on a haunting and big ..."What happens now moment"...i kind of like those, we dont need a sequel, just leave it at that ...that worked for The Thing and i think leaving the ending stand as it is is good
Sorry if I spoil your thread, my italian English is no very good but I very appreciate your interesting topic, because I love the space movies, but Alien was a beautiful rarity well executed then, and since more than 30 years ago is an unquestionable jewel yet, LIFE death very early in a very short film, due to differents director failures and others stupid shoots, LIFE has excellent shots and others that are not credible for me, it can not be matched to Prometheus for example despite of the plot holes, and being a short film too, Scott's style as a director designer (ship environment etc.. is all togheter a masterpiece), I think he's more an artist than a filmmaker, I've always said that.
Aorta – “I think you're trying to do the same thing now, to govern your terror by forcibly neutralizing the context of Calvin. I'm sorry, Newt, but it's hopeless. Calvin will get in. Suc***b, like Hugh did. Let it inhabit your nightmares, feed on your mind. Submit to the terror, Newt. There is no way out”.
hahahhahhhahhhhaaaa!!!!! You my dear have me literally belly laughing here!!! LOVE IT!!!! And THANK YOU!!!!! PS you may be right!!! :D
SPOILERS YET AGAIN (unfortunately the only 3 people who seem to care have already seen it)
Grinning- I knew what the end was before I entered the theatre, having read about it online. It still hit me hard, due to: Calvin's bizarre and most unexpected transformation, R. Ferguson's fantastic screaming of 'NOO!!NOO!!' as she hurtles into the void, and the nauseating music that accompanies the whole thing, a huge, cartoonish March of DOOM.
And that's another thing I love about the movie as a whole, it's self aware and this is communicated via the music, which while highly effective is also a sort of wink. I'm going to buy the OST, I'm hosting a big family dinner in June and it would be hilarious to play this until someone raises an eyebrow.
Roger- balderdash, you have not ruined my thread! All opinions are welcome, I only wish LIFE did for you what it did for me. But in this we agree: Scott is a master and it's a very good time to be his fan! He is very much an artist and it's a luxury to have his chapter(s) of the Alien saga!
Newt- going to see it again tonight with a friend, I'll post her impressions tomorrow. Until then, SWEET DREAMS.
There are others on this thread I haven't responded to and for that I am sorry, I couldn't keep up, Aaand that's my problem at parties too which is why I don't throw too many! Plus the clean-up! At least I don't have to chase you guys around with a sponge.
I am in total agreement with you on the music....the music in this was amazing and tension filled when it needed to be, the music felt like doom and i agree the music that played during that end sequence was most unsettling....just another thing this little movie did ohhhhh so right!!!
"Newt- going to see it again tonight with a friend, I'll post her impressions tomorrow. Until then, SWEET DREAMS."
Hey there Aorta – did you end up seeing it again? What was your friends impressions of Calvin :D lol!!!
Newt- yes I did, and I was confused by the experience and unsure how to present it, sorry for the delay!
My friend KD loved it, watched the whole thing in a tense little ball peeking through her fingers, so that was gratifying for me. And then when Rebecca Ferguson was careening away into space she said: 'no ****ing way' so all in all it went well, heh heh. After, she said 'ok I need a drink'.
For me, on the second view I picked up on things that I liked specifically, like the way the astronauts looked and in particular their accents, which were not only global but well suited for delivering cosmically bad news.
But there were a couple of moments where each one gets their cameo head shots in montage (with expressions of gentle wonder no less) that were a bit corny. Not a big deal though, there are similar moments in AC's Last Supper featurette.
What I really noticed was off was the theatre itself. The first time I saw LIFE was at the Lake Theatre in Oak Park Illinois. I've been going there all my life, saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang there as a kid, for example. Saw Prometheus there. The only other theatre I frequent is the IMAX in downtown Chicago.
Apparently the Lake has excellent audio and projection. The second time I saw LIFE was at an AMC and both the picture and audio were quite flat, the image was grainy with a faint but visible dot grid and lacking contrast and saturation, and the audio was at the very least poorly EQ'd with no bottom to speak of. That said, even under these sad conditions my friend had a great time, having no point of reference.
I do wonder though how many people's opinions of movies are affected negatively by the viewing environment? I wouldn't have been as impressed if I had seen LIFE for the first time in this theatre. Immersion is critical, obviously,and some theatres definitely do it better than others. Find one you like and stick to it, is the moral of this story!
and did your friend see “Calvin” as you did Aorta? Also did your understanding of “him” change or deepen in any way following the second viewing?
I couldn’t agree more re the importance of choosing your cinema well. I live in the deep south of New Zealand and unfortunately we have slim pickings. I am going to be travelling and paying very good money when Alien Covenant comes out to make sure that the environment is the best it can be. That and sincerely praying that all the “twits” – those special people who try their best to spoil movies for the rest of us, all get a nasty bout of vomiting and diarrhoea the night before and just can’t come along to the screening!!! lol :D
Newt- she isn't as inclined to invest personally in things as I am, so for her the experience was more primal.
I don't go to movies often, so I do recognize that ones I like probably seem a lot more profound to me than they do to anyone else, lol. But I am frequently let down, too. Skull Island is a good recent example, but I knew going in it might not work for me. My last WOW experience was Prometheus.
I always hope to replicate things like that for others, but my success rate is naturally low. That's why it's great to have this forum, where it's possible to meet the one person in the entire world who shares my view!
Hey there - don't be so hard on yourself Aorta! I think your success rate may be a lot higher than you realise for I know that there were others here on this ‘Topic Board’ that really had no intention of seeing "Life" prior to reading your review. I was definitely one of those people!!
Interesting your last WOW movie was Prometheus, for it was mine too. I became quite obsessed with it especially trying to deeper my appreciation and understanding of certain elements, as I have done so with Calvin. I actually saw it 6 times and it still to this day Prometheus remains high on the list.
It takes a lot to pique my interest too and I feel left down by most. I am soooo glad that you my dear shared your review of LIFE with us all – for I know for certain that this little gem of a movie most would have definitely have slipped by my radar! lol
other films like this and higly recommended Spacewalker:
Roger where are you from? Do you know what's being said in that trailer?
italian, sorry Aorta no idea!