(US - 2017)
Directed by Daniel Espinosa. Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya. (R, 104 mins)
There's really no way to approach LIFE without labeling it an ALIEN knockoff. To its credit, it doesn't try to disguise that, instead opting to bring enough modern technology to the table that it ends being ALIEN in a post-GRAVITY/THE MARTIAN genre. Visually, LIFE is extraordinarily convincing and with a budget of $60 million--low by today's standards--it manages to look better than a lot of movies that somehow cost $150 million or more and still look like shit. LIFE earns some points for going the extra mile to stick to hard science in its depiction of life on a space station by having its characters spend the entire film floating around in zero gravity. That effort isn't quite tantamount to putting lipstick on a pig, but in the end, LIFE can't really clear the major hurdle of its overwhelming sense of familiarity. Sure, it's an ambitious visual effects triumph, but at the end of the day, it's still just another ALIEN ripoff, and one that compromises its admirably downbeat twist ending by pointlessly segueing to "Spirit in the Sky" played over the closing credits. While it's nice that its inclusion here means Norman Greenbaum keeps the power on for another six months, it has no business being used in this movie, much less sending the audience out humming a catchy classic rock tune after such a bleak wrap-up. Were "Born to Be Wild," "Brown-Eyed Girl," and "Paranoid" also considered? Now, 1990's MIAMI BLUES? Sure, perfect use of "Spirit in the Sky." But by now, in 2017? No. No more. Please, Hollywood, give us a fucking break already with "Spirit in the Sky."