You meet the man of your dreams! He’s gorgeous, he’s successful, he knows exactly what to say to make your nether regions careen drunkenly South to Rio De Janeiro to do the samba all night long on some sultry Balneario beach. You want him so bad that you’d climb over your dead mother’s carcass to get to his goods. We’ve all been there — don’t deny it! As time goes by, it gets even better. You gaze wonderingly into his eyes, you share your dreams, your fears, your most intimate fantasies, but – finally, when that moment cums — I mean arrives — it’s Dudsville.
Welcome to the movie ‘Life.’
The performance of the actors is stellar. The set design is a nerd’s wet dream. The monster is exceptional, but…
The scientists are muttonheads.
I’m going to old-school it now – by referring to my personal gold standard of all alien movies – the ‘Alien’ franchise, written by the genius Alan D. Foster (series 1-3).
A (paraphrased) example:
Anyone in the Aliens movies (1-3): Oh my god! We have to save our friend from these horrible monsters!
Ripley: It’s too late. Let him die.
Then Ripley goes on to save herself and humankind.
In the movie Life:
Anyone of the so-called Scientists in Life: Oh, my god! We have to save our friend from this horrible monster!
The other so-called Scientist: Yes, let’s save our friend! So what if the alien is attached to our friend’s leg and he is sure to die – let’s risk the survival of all of humankind and try to save our doomed friend!
Oh, did I mention that already?
For future reference, here’s the three-part recipe to this type of movie:
- There is always one character who has the ability to cut through all the bullshit and see the TRUTH. Ripley and, to some degree, the Jake Gyllenhaal character, understands that the individual must be sacrificed to save humankind from extinction at the hands of the monster.
- One character is secretly working against the group. In the Alien franchise, it was Ash, Burke, Golic, and Dr. Wren. In Life, it was maybe Ariyon Bakare.
- And, most importantly, you must have an ALIEN “whose perfection is only matched by it’s hostility.”
The problem with Life is that:
- The scientists each have a critical moment when they can save everyone (and humankind!) by sacrificing themselves or a friend, but they don’t.
In the words of Crazy Horse before the Battle of the Little Big Horn, “Hokahey, today is a good day to die!”
‘Life’ could have been a classic! If only the writers had given the scientist characters their own Crazy Horse moment! If the writers had given each scientist a moment where they at least tried to sacrifice their own life to save the group — and humankind — this movie would have been a contender.
In the meantime, to keep frustration at bay —
there is always the Alien series —