Life versus The Power Rangers

There was no way I was seeing a Power Rangers movie, so I watched Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds fight an alien.  Life has a lot of good things going for it, and it does a good job with the clausterphobic space horror genre, using good scares.  It even has tension.  This movie has two big time stars leading the way, which is sorta interesting and different.  The last Gyllenhaal movie I saw was Nightcrawler, which I thought was pretty well done, and had some good performances from everybody.  Unfortunately, Life has a pretty generic setup that we’ve seen before in other movies like Alien, and it isn’t better than that movie, trust me.  Yep, something gets aboard and starts killing people.  It’s that movie.

Gyllenhaal and Reynolds bring back some alien DNA from Mars and it starts growing at a surprising rate.  And it’s all aggressive, as you might expect.  If you’ve seen the trailer, you pretty much know what’s going to happen in the plot and the trailer does a piss poor job holding back plot points because it’s all laid out for you.  Maybe that means there’s not much to this movie.  

The movie follows the Alien template.  The little critter gets loose and the first half of the movie is pretty tense, as they wonder where the thing went and start looking for it.  In the second half, the thing gets bigger and more threatening.  Where have we seen that before?  It felt like there were two writers on this movie and one of them wrote a tense first half (complete with some engaging sci-fi themes), but the second guy followed that up with a generic Ridley Scott cut-and-paste job.  More to the point, the first half sets up the movie as this science horror that asks compelling questions about just what is happening and why.  All of that gets sorta dropped and goes nowhere.  Too bad.

The major theme of this movie is what lengths scientists go to in order to protect life.  That’s why the movie is titled the way it is.  The main characters carry this theme for at least half the movie and do a good job with it.  

The threat works because there are strong main characters, and I didn’t know if they were going to kill Reynolds or Gyllenhaal halfway through or all the redshirts or what.  It works.  In fact, Reynolds tries to warn people about the threat but nobody listens, which makes his character stronger and more effective.

In all, this is a decent movie that peeters out and has too many clichés at the end, including all the action beats you might expect from an alien versus humans attack movie.  The ending is also pretty dumb and thrown in there for shock value.  None of the great themes introduced at the beginning of the movie are followed up on in any meaningful way, and I’m left disappointed once again, the same way I felt after watching Passengers.  Life (2017) is a good time for what it is and it’s fun in some spots and scary in a lot more, plus its got some inventive, gross stuff.  That’s good for the horror fans, but it’s still doesn’t do enough to separate itself from better movies like the original Alien movie made in the 70s.  Still doesn’t motivate me to watch Power Rangers though.

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