Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Life (2017)

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Life – Film Review

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Synopsis: An international crew on the ISS capture what they believe to be the first sign of life from Mars. Yet upon examination, the extraterrestrial being they have found is not very hospitable…

Review: When you have the premise of a crew of human beings aboard a space station in space, and there are some aliens involved, it’s almost a certainty that this means doom and gloom for those poor souls on board. Aliens don’t tend to be the sort of beings that want to sit down and have a beer and natter about everyday life. Nope, they usually want your flesh and blood and that’s exactly what you get in this intriguing mesh of sci-fi meets horror meets thriller.

Indeed, this is a genre and a combination that is not exactly new to audiences, as it’s become a very trodden path down the years. As such there’s nothing truly revolutionary about the story, but it still manages to be suspenseful and gripping to watch. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick of Deadpool fame do their best to try and add something new to the table and save for one scene where the Martian symbiote decides to make a meal out of a lab rat, it’s your standard Humans vs Alien set up, with the humans trying desperately to survive. The cast do their best but ultimately there’s very little flesh on the bones of the characters (not such good news for Mr ET in that case!) The acting is of a decent order, but there’s no standout performance from what is a very talented cast, which is a huge frustration.

Indeed the likes of the Alien trilogy and Gravity have set the bar of quality in this genre, the latter of which particularly when it comes to recreating the look and feel of a space environment.  The effects are well done, as is the production design and set decoration. Director Daniel Espinosa does make it feel as though you are in space, but given today’s technology, and after seeing what Cuaron managed to achieve with Gravity, this is not as jaw dropping as it perhaps once was. What this film does very well though is the tension. Through some very quick cut editing and some solid camerawork, the tension really begins to build when the alien is coming after the crew one by one, and the remaining crew work out their plan for survival, which isn’t exactly easy in such narrow hallways aboard a space station.

There are some memorable moments, and one death in particular that is particularly horrifying to watch that could perhaps cause one or two astronauts to have nightmares, but overall Life does not better the films that serve as its inspiration. The film does have some interesting things to say about humanity as a species and does offer up interesting questions as to what would the reaction of humanity be if we discovered life on a different planet that is not our own. An event that might well happen several decades from now, so should that event ever come to pass, perhaps this film can serve as a lesson.

  Suspenseful, gritty and visually impressive without a doubt, but a lack of memorable characters and originality prevents this from becoming a true classic of the extraterrestrial/space genre.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

edge of tomorrow
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Edge of Tomorrow – Film Review

Cast:  Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Dragomir Mrsic, Charlotte Riley, Jonas Armstrong, Franz Drameh, Kick Gurry, Tony Way, Noah Carter

Director: Doug Liman

Synopsis: Lieutenant William Cage is an untrained soldier forced against his will to join in a battle fighting against deadly alien foes. But when he dies in combat, he mysteriously awakens, reliving his penultimate day over and over again…

Review: Many movies often borrow elements from movies gone by . They also might borrow from other entertainment forms, and take them in interesting new directions. For instance, if you take the time loop element of movies such as Groundhog Day,  the Normandy beach landings as depicted in Saving Private Ryan, and elements from the popular video game franchise Halo. When these things are merged together, the end product is this thrilling sci-fi adventure.

Adapted from the anime novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Humanity is at war with an alien race and the troops are being rallied in England to prepare for an attack on the enemy foe. Enter William Cage (Tom Cruise), a top General in the US army who is more into talking than fighting. He ultimately is forced onto the front line to help repel the alien forces. Yet after seemingly meeting his maker, he finds himself waking up, relieving the same day again and again.  As the film’s tagline goes” Live. Die Repeat.” and this happens many times. This premise may sound familiar, but with Doug Liman (Bourne Identity, Mr and Mrs Smith) on the director’s chair, what we have an innovative and refreshing perspective on this similar premise.

For three decades, Tom Cruise has given us exciting action movies such as the Mission Impossible series. And yet again, he gives another enthralling performance as we see his character really progress from quite frankly a complete wimp who barely knows how to fight, to a fearless warrior determined to wipe out the foe whilst using his impressive tech suit.  Despite being 52 years of age, the man can still give a solid action performance. As he falls each time, he learns something new and uses this knowledge to his benefit. The key piece in this science fiction puzzle however is Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). Her character has gone through something similar to Cage and he must utilise her knowledge to help win the war.  The two leading actors have great chemistry on screen as she is the one who helps train him into the soldier that he needs to become. Blunt gives an exceptional performance  and demonstrates that you can have a strong female protagonist who does not need a man to stand up and make herself count. In many respects in this film it is vice versa, he is the one who needs her to stand up and make himself count.

Liman himself stated that the scenes with the character repeatedly dying and respawning were  an intentional comparison to video games. The fight scenes are fun to watch, particularly with Cruise running in his tech suit and taking down the bad guys. While the fighting does come across as almost too video game like at times, it is intriguing and there is plenty of action here to get the heart pumping. In particular the final showdown against the aliens is fantastic to watch. The continuous loop element of the movie could be tedious and dull. Yet it works to great effect as each time Cage bites the bullet, there is something new and energising that is brought to the plot, and it effectively moves the plot forward.

With elements of video games and time loops and time travel from past movies all blended together, along with a revitalising and exciting story that keeps you entertained from the word go. The final result is a film you will (hopefully) enjoy and watch many times.

Watch. Enjoy. Repeat 

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