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March 30, 2017

Life scares the life out of viewers

by Ryan Handel, Opinions Editor
Although Life may at first seem to be borrowing the worn-out “escape from space” concept, it makes a unique addition to the sci-fi genre; the element of horror. Life utilizes strong acting and exceptional cinematography to create a movie that leaves little to no break from action and viewers chattering their teeth.

The film begins as six crew members aboard the International Space Station celebrate receiving a space probe from Mars containing a soil sample. They are ecstatic to find that the sample contains a single-celled organism, the first evidence of life beyond Earth. Scientist Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) stimulates the cell to grow and divide, and attempts to provoke the hibernating organism, named “Calvin”, to wake up with a small electric shock. However, this causes Calvin to become hostile, and it escapes from the chamber it had been contained in and begins to attempt to eat the crew members one by one.

The moment that Calvin escapes from its holding chamber there is a sharp, sudden shift in tone. From that point on in the movie, viewers are captivated and unable to leave their seats as the threat of an attack from Calvin is always present. The gruesome, gory attacks leave viewers cringing and turning away from the screen while begging to know what happens next. Unlike many horror movies, Life wastes no time in getting to the action, there is little time is spent in exposition before Calvin becomes a hostile adversary.


(released December 31, 2069)
Director Daniel Espinosa orchestrates the captivating sci-fi horror movie <i>Life</i>. Courtesy of Trailer Addict
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Six crew members aboard the International Space Station celebrate receiving a space probe from Mars containing a soil sample. They are ecstatic to find that the sample contains a single-celled organism until it becomes hostile.

The emotional connections developed with the characters before the shift in tone snap without warning during the movie, adding to the tense drama. Strong acting by the six leads, including Hiroyuki Sanada who plays Japanese crew member Sho Kendo, and Rebecca Furgeson who plays Dr. Miranda North, aids in making viewers emotionally invested. No member of the diverse cast, which includes actors from four different countries, is lagging behind in their performance.

As with many movies set in outer space, cinematography is a strength of Life. The zero gravity environment aboard the International Space Station is perfectly captured, while Calvin is animated to be as intimidating a creature as possible, both in its appearance and style of consuming its prey. The intricate detail in which every aspect of the space station is depicted is also quite impressive.

A common criticism of Lifeis that it is too similar to the 1979 thriller Alien. Both movies involve astronauts being trapped aboard space ship with a hostile alien creature, as the astronauts desperately fight to return home alive. However, one can still enjoy Life despite its similarity to the classic 70s film.

Life is an engaging thriller that is not for the faint of heart. Anyone looking for casual movie to see with friends should look elsewhere, but this film is perfect for someone seeking a rush of excitement. And last but not least, Life has a jarring ending that is not to be missed.

Life is rated R for language throughout, some sci-fi violence and terror. It is showing throughout local theaters including Regal Majestic and AMC Wheaton Mall.

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