If you’ve been to the cinema within the past couple of months, the chances are you’ve seen at least one of these two trailers. The first would be for Life, Daniel Espinosa’s sci-fi film about an alien lifeform being unleashed on a crew of astronauts with deadly consequences, and the other would be for Alien: Covenant, Ridley Scott’s latest instalment in his ongoing Alien franchise, in which an alien lifeform is unleashed on a crew of astronauts with deadly consequences. The similarities between the two are abundantly clear, especially when both trailers are watched back to back, and so, perhaps unfairly, there’s already a huge expectation most people will be taking into Life, which will undoubtedly influence what they think of it.
It is incredibly difficult to watch Espinosa’s film and not compare it to others from the genre. Alien is indeed the most obvious comparison to make, and at one point it looks as if the director is going to try and replicate the infamous chest-bursting sequence from Scott’s sci-fi classic. There’s also a little bit of Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity in there, with plenty of spinny and upside downy shots of the characters floating through space.
Even Jon Ekstrand’s rather terrific score seems to be trying to replicate the iconic opening music from Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001’ at certain points in the film; the closest it ever gets to virtually wailing its many influences at you. In fact, this particular reference feels so deliberate that it appears as if Espinosa is intentionally paying homage to all these different movies.
This being the case, it’s easy to forgive Life for the fact that it’s really doing nothing that we haven’t seen before. Sure, it isn’t going to be winning awards for its originality anytime soon, but even so, it still manages to work as a thoroughly entertaining bit of genre that would go down nicely on a late Friday night.
The cast are pretty great – the usually fantastic Rebecca Ferguson being the weakest link here – and there are enough solidly-crafted set pieces to hold your attention from beginning to end. Alien this isn’t, but it still makes for a fun time at the cinema.
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