The first official discovery of a living organism beyond Earth is brought to the International Space Station for research. Unfortunately for the crew, this tiny organism is much more than it seems. Just like all living things from Earth…its purpose is to survive at all cost!
In recent years, humans have become more willing to accept the idea of life beyond planet Earth. New discoveries are made every day, including countless Earth-like planets. These discoveries, along with the knowledge of our vast-expanding Universe, provide additional evidence that life could be discovered elsewhere. Hundreds of billions of stars throughout our Universe, suggest there’s hundreds of billions of planets. Many of which could be harboring life of some sort. The question of finding life out there isn’t a matter of if but when. Many questions will arise from this discovery, but it likely won’t be too surprising. We’ll be more concerned about how this living thing came to be, where it comes from, what are its beliefs and values, etc. If it’s a simple single-celled organism or even a long lost fossil; humanity should be able to cope with the idea. Nevertheless, the powers that be will ensure to keep the life on planet Earth safe from such a thing. Testing it on the International Space Station makes a whole lot of sense. This way, it can be thoroughly tested and examined before considering bringing it to Earth.
This is basically where LIFE begins. A collection of international astronauts are waiting for a space vehicle to arrive from Mars. On this capsule, there are samples from the red planet. What they are hoping to discover within the samples is some sort of microbial life. With just a tiny speck of Martian soil, that’s exactly what they find. At first, the tiny organism doesn’t respond to interactions by Dr. Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare). He’s the only one qualified to work with the sample. With some tweaking of the controlled chamber in the ISS science lab, he’s able to make the tiny organism move. This is a monumental milestone in the search for life beyond our planet. It’s the first documented proof of life from Mars. What’s surprising to the astronauts and the viewer, is how quickly this creature begins to grow. Not only in size, but also in intelligence. It also never displays fear, only curiosity. Then it gets a name: Calvin.
About the time the creature is named, things start to get a little weird. Calvin is growing and duplicating the shapes and gestures it sees during tests by Dr. Derry. It’s cute at first, but we begin to see how the doctor starts taking a liking to the creature. It’s like Calvin is his child. Dr. Derry starts having unscheduled and undocumented interactions with Calvin. Not only does this worry the other Astronauts, it also allows for some strange events to unfold. Out of nowhere, the astronauts all over the station are startled by a sounding alarm. Something has gone wrong in the lab where Calvin is held. Whatever Calvin has been exposed to, it causes him to go into hibernation. He won’t respond to any stimulus. Over time, the tests become more intrusive. So much in fact, Dr. Derry decides he’s going to shock him with a tiny electric probe. Turns out, Calvin doesn’t like that. In a motion quicker than anyone can react to, Calvin completely wraps itself around Dr. Derry’s gloved hand. The glove is supposed to be very strong, yet the tiny creature starts breaking the doctor’s fingers one-by-one. It’s very painful to watch. The other astronauts are under strict orders not to enter the lab in case Calvin breaks out of his confines. Of course, this is exactly what he does. Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds) can’t stand to watch his friend get attacked, so he breaks protocol and enters the lab. He saves Dr. Derry, but at the cost of his own life. With this much chaos unfolding, viewers will wonder if the crew of the ISS has any chance of surviving this terrible tragedy.
Think the rest of the crew can find a way to isolate Calvin before it kills everyone on board the ISS? You’ll have to tune in to find out!
Enough about that…let’s check out what all is included with this Blu-ray release.
The menu design consists of a static image of an astronaut’s suit with a hand pressed inside the helmet. It’s a little eerie. The menu options are listed along the bottom of the screen, and include: Play Movie, Languages, Scene Selections and Special Features. The ‘Languages’ option lets viewers choose the Audio and Subtitle tracks for the film. The ‘Audio’ tracks include: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Descriptive Service, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1, and Thai 5.1. That’s a decent set of audio tracks! The ‘Subtitle’ languages include all the ones listed for the audio tracks, as well as: Cantonese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Indonesian, Korean, Malay/ Bahasa Malaysia, and Portuguese. The ‘Scene Selections’ option displays all the chapters along a timeline. Each chapter is numbered and includes a snapshot from the scene. Bookmarks can be added, viewed, and deleted from this sub-menu as well.
Now let’s check out the Special Features included with this Blu-ray release.
– Deleted Scenes (5:49 HD): This collection of clips didn’t make the final cut of the film. Some are rather brief, so they may have been cut just for timing or plot-flow reasons. It’s fun to watch though, as the actors are hanging from their zero-g wires in some of the scenes.
– Life: In Zero G (6:54 HD): This film takes place on the International Space Station (ISS) where there is no gravity. Thus, the Director and Actors had to learn how best to recreate weightlessness. This feature displays how the movie magic was made. If you’re into behind-the-scenes footage, make sure to check this one out!
– Creating Life: The Art and Reality of Calvin (7:07 HD): This is a great feature interviewing the Director, Producers, and Writers of the film. They each discuss the idea of life beyond Earth, and ponder what it would be like. For this film, they wanted something that didn’t represent anything we’ve seen before in Sci-Fi. They also wanted it to be a creature that could actually exist, scientifically. That’s a pretty cool goal to set.
– Claustrophobic Terror: Creating a Thriller in Space (7:28 HD): Even though space is quite vast, astronauts musts feel an incredible amount of isolation and claustrophobia while floating around out there. This film wanted to capture that lack of personal space while terrifying the viewer at the same time. I’d say they did a pretty good job accomplishing this.
– Astronaut Diaries (3:01 HD): Movies that take place in space generally have some sort of character video diary as part of the story. It’s a mechanic that documents the backstory, or the unravelling of the characters as they spend too much time out there. In this feature, viewers get to see why some of the primary characters chose to become astronauts.
Now let’s take a look at the technical side of this Blu-ray release.
The 1080p HD image comes with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, so there will be black bars along the top and bottom of your HDTV screen. No need to worry though as the image is fairly crisp and clear. Viewers will notice this film has a cooler color palette that consists of various blues, greys, whites and blacks. This color combo limits what the viewer will see in terms of detail and depth. I’m certain this was a stylistic choice. Viewers won’t love or hate the quality, but may notice how the darker scenes are a bit murky and filled with digital artifacts at times. This is a shame, but it’s not terrible by any means. I’ve simply seen better quality transfers than this.
Where this transfer really shines is the audio quality. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio does a great job pulling the viewer into the action. Since this film takes place completely in the ISS, viewers must believe the overall illusions based on environmental and ambient effects added in post. The entire film was shot on a sound stage, so the effects specialists had to do a lot of detailed work to make this film more believable. I think they did a pretty good job. The background musical score is also very impressive. I found myself thinking how this film reminded me of Christopher Nolan’s, ‘Interstellar,’ when the tracks would kick in. This is no means a negative observation. This is a great sounding transfer.
Overall, LIFE is an alright film. It’s a modern twist in the Sci-Fi genre that displays what could possibly happen once humans discover life beyond the confines of Earth. While many of us can’t wait for such a discovery, this film emboldens the fear one may have once something this monumental happens. If we can’t protect ourselves from a tiny single-celled organism, how can we expect to protect ourselves from a fully-evolved species with technology that’s vastly superior to our own? It’s this concern that makes us ponder and forget the possibility of life elsewhere in the Universe. We want to believe it’s out there…we just don’t want to believe it’s stronger and more advanced than us.
If you are looking for a new Sci-Fi flick that takes a look at the very probable aspects of life discovered off the planet, make sure to check this film out. Get it on Blu-ray today!