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Life is a solid example of sci-fi filmmaking, coupling solid direction with rather familiar material. The film follows a group of astronauts, including David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds), who live on the international space station, and intercept a Martian life form. When the life form turns out to be a deadly one, the crew must survive against a species that threatens life as we know it.

No, it’s not the most original plot, and the films twists are fairly predictable, but director Daniel Espinosa does an excellent job bringing space to life; there’s nuances to what astronauts go through that are brought to life, and the beautiful cinematography and score create a haunting portrayal of space. If there’s a major weakness, the characters aren’t as fleshed out as they could be; Gyllenhaal is given the most to do and gives another strong lead performance, and Reynolds’s side performance gives the film the right dosage of comedy.

The visuals are solid, and in many ways the story’s simple, survival story line allows for the most suspense to be built. Although the characters are in need of more development, it’s easy to empathize with them, and the film’s approach seems to take the material just seriously enough. It’s not particularly original, but it’s well made entertainment complete with a slow burn opening and a killer ending. Grade: B

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