I want to make a point real quick, and that’s the fact that movie analysis is important even if you don’t care to do it yourself.
I saw this movie with my youngest brother and my dad. My brother is like me: very into dissecting films and all of their elements. My dad is not this way at all and just wants to go to a movie that he will enjoy watching. So on the way home, my brother and I were picking apart the movie, my dad laughed and said, “You guys definitely know how to find the tiniest details to criticize.”
Later on the ride home, my dad told us his final thoughts on the film: he didn’t like it, but he didn’t hate it either. And that’s pretty much the exact same consensus my brother and I came up with.
Why did we all feel the same way about the movie despite our varying levels of film analysis? Well, I have the ability to tell you why.
The character development in this movie is paper thin. Though there are a few physical and circumstantial differences between our characters, they all wind up having the same personality except for a few bits of Ryan Reynolds‘s personality.
The movie also tried to establish a deep inner bond that the six crew members had with each other, but they never end up succeeding. They often told us that they were a family, but their relationships seemed more akin to the kind that friendly coworkers have with each other.
It doesn’t help that the dialogue was absolutely unhelpful in establishing any sort of deep relationship, or even personalities, within these people. There is only one line of dialogue that I enjoyed more than average, and it came from Reynolds’s character… hmmmmm…
So if you haven’t been clued in by the trailers, this is a sci-fi horror movie, and because the horror aspect requires the object of conflict (the alien) to never leave the movie, there must be logical and smart writing and direction in order to maintain the object of conflict while simultaneously keeping an emotional connection to our main characters.
Instead, this movie decided to take the easy route and keep the object of conflict in the movie by convenient plot elements and having our characters make stupid, emotionally-fueled, logic-absent decisions.
Now these dumb decisions wouldn’t have felt so cheap if the movie properly established this extreme bond that all of the characters claimed to have with each other. Because they didn’t, these decisions and plot points felt exactly the way they usually feel in these types of movies: cheap.
So we have an alien movie that relies on mediocre, forgettable characters making moronic choices in a space ship with completely convenient traits that just so happen to force the plot along.
Some of these dumb decisions can be forgiven by the idea of humanity being generally prone to bad decisions in the first place, but there are some of them that are absolutely unforgivable.
For instance, they are trying to lock the alien out of the room they are in, and then they are depriving the rest of the ship of oxygen so that the alien will go into hyper-slumber. But then it’s revealed that while everyone else thought the alien was still outside their room, the black guy starts talking about how the alien is really good natured and that he’s just killing them off as a method of survival. He then passes out, and the rest of the crew finds out that the black guy was hiding the alien under his pant-leg the entire time they were waiting for the lack-of-oxygen to take effect. All the while, the alien is munching on his leg.
Why the hell would he do this? The entire movie forced this feeling of the crew being a close-knit family. So was it so close knit that the bond could merely be forgotten because he is really attached to this alien? Who knows.
All the other characters in this movie were mediocre at best and dumb and tiresome at worst… yes even Jake Gyllenhaal (whose inclusion in the movie was the biggest reason I was excited for it in the first place).
There are moments in the movie where they try to spout out philosophical soliloquies at the audience, and every single time they attempted to do so, it fell flat.
The lighting and imagery in this film is above average, and it really added to the awe and horror aspects of the movie. Did they do anything that was worth remembrance? Nope.
The music in this movie was also very serviceable, but again, it never broke out of the standard space-horror movie type of soundtrack. I guess I can say that at least it wasn’t bad.
ALSO, the song they chose for the ending credits in the movie was DRASTICALLY inappropriate to the entire tone of the movie. I don’t normally comment on after-credits music, but boy oh boy was it ever a jarring experience.
Life is definitely a suspenseful movie at times (when it’s not sabotaging itself with a cheap plot full of conveniences), and it’s a pretty movie to look at. But there’s nothing here that will be worth thinking back on in a month or so. Even those who enjoyed this movie would surprise me if they ended up remembering it after a while. If you just enjoy movies that you don’t have to think about, then I would imagine you probably won’t have a problem with many of these issues I had. But if you’re like me and think that logic and intelligence is key to making the suspense consistent, then you will find Life irritating, and I’m giving this movie a 5 out of 10.