Life (2017)

Viewed April 1st

 

A hostile alien life form is brought onboard a spaceship and eventually overwhelms the crew.

The filmmakers create an enjoyably tense mood and show off some very cool cinematography and then call it a day. That would be fine, but a movie like this needs something beyond merely accomplishing genre objectives to push it into more classic territory. There's not that sense of dread that overwhelms Alien or the sense of awe that elevates the more recent film Gravity. One way to do that would be to re-examine the alien presence itself. First of all, the special effects are advanced, but you can still definitely tell that this thing is digital, made in a computer, and that the actors are not sharing physical space with anything. At the risk of sounding cranky, there's a disconnect there. Also, the design of the alien begins as a little starfish walking around with anthropomorphic arms and legs and a little head. Eventually it evolves into a monster with a full-on human face. It would have been more dreadful if the monster/alien would have felt more alien and less in reference to a human being. There's something more existentially challenging about a form that feels utterly unfamiliar. Alien's alien of course was anthropomorphic, but it came from the mind of a visual genius, H.R. Giger, and it dug into the foreign or difficult aspects of the human form itself.