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Monday, March 27, 2017

Life

LIFE

** SPOILERS **

Remember how good you felt when you watched Gravity? Sandra Bullock was stuck in outer space orbit, the International Space Station got smashed up by meteors, George Clooney was there too for some reason, and Bullock had to figure out a way to get back to Earth. And then she did, and it was awesome, and we felt great for her and for us. That's not Life.

In Life, the International Space Station is crewed by six movie movie star astronauts. Ryan Reynolds plays Deadpool, who brings soil samples straight from Mars on board to study. They discover a single celled organism that quickly - and I mean quickly - grows and involves into a tentacled starfish the size of a large pizza box in a matter of weeks. The Martian is kind of like Starro the Conquerer from DC Comics, so we'll just call it Starro from here on out. At first benign when it's just a miraculous little microscopic dot confined to a quarantined lab, Starro suddenly becomes incredibly violent and starts murdering the astronauts, crawling inside them as if all evil starfish on Mars have seen the Alien movies. Reynolds locks himself in the lab with Starro and tries to roast it with a blowtorch, but Starro takes out Deadpool and does him in from the inside out.

The rest of the astronauts, including Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson, scramble to figure out how to lock Starro out of the ISS. But that insidious Martian starfish outsmarts their best science-y efforts at every turn and starts picking off the crew in grotesque ways. Then, and here's when Life really jumped the shark, Starro grows an evil alien face so it can have eye-to-eye staredowns with the humans. It soon becomes clear, especially when Earth receives the ISS's distress beacon and Starro massacres the crew of the rescue ship that docks with the station, that there's no way to beat Starro. The only thing that matters now is to keep it from reaching Earth. 

Gyllenhaal comes up with a plan to use the last two Lifeboats to trick Starro; he'll pilot one into deep space with Starro on board and sacrifice his life to save Earth while Ferguson takes the second Lifeboat and tells the world what happened. This is when Life really screws us, manipulatively fooling the audience into thinking the plan is working when the exact opposite happened: Ferguson's Lifeboat got hit with debris and careened into deep space while Starro tentacle-to-arm wrestled Gyllenhaal for control of his Lifeboat and sent them both to Earth. The well-meaning fisherman in Thailand who sailed to meet the Lifeboat that landed in their waters never knew what hit them. But we know. It was Life that fucked them, and us, over.

Life was going pretty well in the beginning, seeming like a derivative, but well-shot and decently interesting science fiction story in the serious and thoughtful vein of Arrival. When Starro instantly grows into an unstoppable CGI movie monster impervious to fire or the vacuum of space while managing to outwit six super duper brainy movie star scientists at every turn, Life goes right down the shitter. All I know is Life sucks, and everyone who sees it deserves a better Life.

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