Life


Viewed – 15 August 2017  online rental

Science-fiction has become one of my favourite genres, with such gems as The Martian and Interstellar impressing me.  There seems to have been a bit of a resurgence in such movies, albeit stepping away from the flights of fantasy we’ve seen and instead focusing on a more semi-realistic tone.  The same can be said for this latest space-set thriller starring amongst others, Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds.

Life

A team of astronauts orbiting the earth reprieve a probe that has been on it’s way back from Mars, and discover a life form within it’s gathered soil samples.  Nurturing said life form in an incubator, the astronauts try to figure out how it responds and whether it’s harmless or deadly.  I’m guessing you probably know the answer to that one, huh?

I got a serious Alien vibe from this but stripped down to actual realistic space travel and science rather than H R Giger inspired horror aesthetics.   The creature, nicknamed Calvin is initially cute but eventually shudder creepy-crawly, and as the scientists attempt to contain it, this set into action some seriously well done thrills.  It’s not a subject that breathes new life into a tired genre but it’s done well, has some genuinely heart-in-mouth moments and is topped off by decent effects work (but for the occasional obvious CGI monster) and great set design that transported me right there … and I didn’t want to be there.  Gyllenhaal, considering his usual brilliance is a little side-lined and the star of this turns out to be Rebecca Ferguson who is very good.  Ryan Reynolds seems like he’s just playing Ryan Reynolds, but the rest of the cast do a decent job.  It’s also a movie, despite it’s familiarity that still managed to keep me gripped and wondering how it might end, and in this day and age that has to be commended.

Verdict:  4 /5

Gravity


Viewed – 08 March 2014 pay-per-view

The type of movie that sells itself from the trailer alone.  Seeing Sandra Bullock being flung around space as a space station shatters around her was both exhilarating and exciting … what was this?  It felt fresh and new, a whole new cinematic ‘experience’ that finally warranted the dawn of 3D.

GRAVITY

I can’t watch 3D, something to do with the fact I am only partially sited in one eye.  Shame I know, but for the most part I’m not bothered.  This however was the first movie I have seen where I really wish I could have seen it in all it’s multi-dimensional glory.  Sandra Bullock is an astronaut working at a space station orbiting earth along with seasoned astronaut George Clooney.  However when disaster strikes they are left stranded and floating in the ominous void of space with limited oxygen and limited hope, with no communication with back home.  Will they survive?

I thought immediately this was a stunning looking movie, with the special effects, sound-design and camera work all state-of-the-art, transporting this viewer right there and believe me, that’s a unnerving place to be.  Director Alfonso Cuarón (Children Of Men) cements his growing reputation as a visual auteur, delivering moments that truly challenge what is possible on film.  How some of these shots were achieved  baffles me, but that’s the magic of cinema.  Bullock is very good in the central role, even if I’d have liked a bit more desperate emotion out of her (but still looks great in and erm, out of her suit), and Clooney is basically Clooney, charismatic but nothing we haven’t seen from him a dozen times.  Also that moment Bullock starts barking to a radio transmission … bit odd that.

Yet this is a movie that is all about experience, about being there, about feeling disorientated and about hoping everything turns out ok.  In which respect, it excels.

Verdict:  4 /5