Yes, it pretty much is Alien meets Gravity. That really is it. 90 mins, in and out - no big picture posturing, no treatise of the human condition, just a good old fashioned outer space creature feature. This one though, it seemed, had the temerity to do it with a decent budget and a starry cast. And everyone sighed and said "its an Alien rip off that's not as good....ergo its parp".
But whoa there nelly. If genre cinema has taught us anything its that an idea isn't a good one unless its pilloried, copied, mangled, remade, sequalised, reimagined.....hell, blatantly told again and again and again. As a slasher fan, is Friday the 13th no good because its a rip off of Halloween? Hell, as an 80s genre aficionado (I gave myself that title so you cant take it away from me - pfffft!), I adore a plethora of other lesser Alien rip offs - 1989 alone gave me two of my faves, Deepstar Six and Leviathan. So in my book, ripping off a genre classic is no automatic black mark.
And in fact, I liked a lot of this - I liked the attempt at a more realistic take on the space beastie movie. No shiny new space ship with all kinds of handy futuristic bits and bobs to enable all kinds of plot twists and turns to take place. I like the beat up ISS as a location. I like the cast - granted, they get rock all to do, other than sweat and cry, but its the beauty of casting recognisable faces.....you almost don't need any more characterisation as they're basically playing themselves, or they could attempt some decent misdirection as with other star-studded disaster flicks of the 70s - rather than which famous face survives, its more a case of place yer bets on which one gets offed first.
And the beastie itself was also pleasantly different - no dude in a suit here. Lots of decent creature action, helped by some pretty decent and only occasionally slightly iffy CG. Oh and it is suitably mean and nasty to all manner of body parts too - its got some pretty gnarly grue in it which is also hella welcome. But, like all creature features, its also got some real ham fisted plotting in it - I've read that the crew make some Prometheus-style idiotic choices. And while I wouldn't quite go that far, there are some proper head slapping, teeth gnashing moments - like its illustrious predecessor these days at least, the beastie's make up/abilities seems to alter
depending on what the plot needs it to do from one scene to the next. Survive in no oxygen? Only after the scene where we need it to NOT survive in zero oxygen. And lets just say I'm sort of impressed at its piloting skills to say the least........
But, all things said, I had a lot of fun with this. Big budget, decent SFX creature features are something to be savoured and just because I get heaps of enjoyment out of the cheap, bad movies, doesn't mean I can't get the same out of the expensive, bad movies.
And boy is it shiny and pretty. The transfer is almost reference - instances of Hugh hunched over Calvin in the early scenes looked like some of the most detailed and realistic images I've ever seen on my PJ. However I did notice some very unwelcome digital shimmering over some FX elements of the various spacecraft that proved very distracting. But these were fleeting - this is a lovely, detailed, rich image that is incredibly pleasing even on humble old 1080p non-HDR kit. Same with the Atmos - really rather good, but not quite top tier. Again, most of the time the Atmos bubble is concerned with placing you in the floating tin can - slight air whooshes, quiet groans of metal and low, underlying throbs surround you constantly: its not massively noticeable at first as they're not mixed at Resident Evil levels, but they do an immense job of placing you in the film. There's no 'slap you in the face' moments where creatures slither above you or footsteps ring out over your head, but its a subtle track that goes about its business efficiently and effectively.
Summary - critics be damned, I liked this. Given my love of slasher photocopy after slasher photocopy, the matter of it being a teensy bit like Alien was never going to bother me. What did bother me was whether or not its a credible creature in a decent location, doing decently gruesome things to a decent cast, And that's what I got. Decent script? Don't be daft, that's what I watch other films for. And the UHD from Sony is as predictably shiny and perfect looking as the film. I'm up for Life 2 I am.
Life User Review
Its space-based horror, Jim........exactly as we have known it.....Review of Life UHD Blu-ray by Coz22998, Aug 5, 2017.This item was purchased for £19.99 from HMV in 2017. The reviewer still owns this product.