Friday, 24 March 2017
Life Off Mars.
103 Minutes. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare & Hiroyuki Sanada. Director: Daniel Espinosa.
This 'Life' as we know it finds a way to confuse us. Are we all in agreement that this is just another 'Alien' in the year of 'Covenant'? Or is this a 2015 James Dean magazine biopic starring Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson back issue repeat? An early millennium prison break comedy with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence breaking out the 'Shawshank' spoons? And people, why does Ryan Reynolds look so pissed in this above photo? Is it because someones shoved him in a washing machine at a laundrette? I know staring at a washing machine as a kid is fun, but being stuck in one is a different matter. No! No! And...well, perhaps. Like 'Prometheus' this is alien to Ridley Scott's infamous franchise. Apart of it, not a part of it. Even if the trailer for 'Covenant' coming before it will have all late comers in the dark spilling their corn and soda as they rush to their seats thinking the movies already started...not to mention escalated quickly. And this isn't the same 'Life' form of Dane playing Dean or Murphy getting 25 years too. There's so many reboots and remakes about these days it's a wonder there aren't more movie duplicates out now. Remember the 'Fast and Furious' confusion? Well before the 'F8' of that next Diesel power franchise lane and all the Marvel and monsters entering the Summer blockbuster race, 'Life' joins 'Logan's' last breath, the 'Skull Island' of 'Kong' and of course the man, the myth and the legend 'John Wick' to spring-step that season early. All with their own out of this world horror that will make the earthbound nature of Sandra Bullock's 'Gravity' and the literal life on Mars of Matt Damon's 'Martian' look like a moonwalk in the park on an interstellar level. Right before little green men start bursting out of everyones chests with all due respect and honour to the late, great John Hurt and Bill Paxton. Now in a space station odyssey turned into a tumble dryer, here's your latest close encounter.
Unlocking this pressure contained airlock of sci-fi horror is 'Safe House' director Daniel Espinosa who lets former Washington guard Ryan Reynolds back in. And from the opening eclipsing scene of the satellite station blinding like the sun behind it you know this is going to be as visual an experience as a visceral one. And this holds us even futher in this notion in the opening one shot camera grip that maps the entirety of this ship and introduces you to all the hard at working crew as they float around you and upside down in zero gravity. Impressive isn't the word. When it comes to these solar system crowded lost in space films, it's inspired. Much has been observed over the new creative trends of outstanding one shots. From Matthew McConaughey's undercover escape from a neighbourhood rife with racial raw tension and firearms in the first series of 'True Detective', to 'Daredevil's' double season namesake hallway hit 'em ups. And let's not forget the entire, epic, brilliant 'Birdman' movie that flew away with the Oscar. But this perfect pan has you floating and flying like Peter in perfect, synchronised time. But when it comes to the vice-like grip, face-hugger handshake introduction with this thing itself in Espinosa's alien picture that has influences from John Carpenter's Kurt Russell movie not set in China, New York or L.A. amongst other cult creature horrors and "nerd" references (even borrowing the 'Spirit In The Sky' volume off fellow spacemen the 'Guardians Of The Galaxy's' tape deck), this lotus flower come squid like creature is like no other. A far cry from those humanoid 'Star Trek' aliens that merely manifest a few bones in their cranium to convince us their other worldly. But with all due respect to the pointed ears this astronaut predator takes our eyes more. And anything else it gets its nerve pinching tentacles around.
Because when it comes to the man vs species they can't begin to understand, human nature of this survival in space story there is an international cast list on the menu in the form of this crew. Of course there is 'Deadpool' himself Reynolds. And the merc still has his trademark mouth that has got himself into all sorts of trouble. But how can you even be, let alone stay mad at this man and his quintessential quips when his light relief is exactly what you'd need in the solitary zero G's of space? Especially when he's on the traditional rocket boosted form of his life. But when the washing machine...or airlock door is closed on him in an iconic making moment, dates everywhere will get a treat as his Hollywood heartthrob, pin-up eyes are met by more in the two for the price of one leading man Jake Gyllenhaal. And the 'Nocturnal Animals' and 'Everest' star, clean-cut, shaven and looking like his wind the clock back, 'Day After Tomorrow' days traps us in the tortured loneliness of his characters just like he does in the arresting 'Prisoners', crumbling 'Demolition' or the skin of 'Nightcrawler'. Yet here isolated, even amongst others, looking out to the most beautiful view of planet earth and another world now so close, but a million miles and a record amount of 700 plus days away he's finally home. But even with this leading two dynamic duo, this is really Rebecca Ferguson's movie. And after stealing the show in the 'Rogue Nation' of Tom Cruise's 'Mission Impossible 5' and the gone girl of Emily Blunt's 'Girl On The Train' this is her moment...and boy does she own it in a commanding performance with the role as captain. Fellow great Brit Ariyon Bakare also graduates from the BBC T.V. series' of 'Spooks', the U.K. version of 'Law and Order' and a rogue cameo in last December's 'Star Wars' story with gripping first contact here. Whilst Russian actress Olga Dihovichnaya with her hair cut down to a Bullock bob, strapping herself into a spacesuit like a Sandra hero brings more grounding 'Gravity' to this film. As Japanese legend and '47 Ronin' star Hiroyuki Sanada completes this crew with heart of new family and so much soul, inspiring him to survive against any odds for what waits for him back on the blue planet. The man who from 'The Last Samurai' to 'The Wolverine' and 'The Railway Man' to 'Rush Hour 3' has always impressed brings so much more inspiration home here. There's so much life here in Espinosa's epic, breeding a new extraterrestrial one. And when it comes to the martian's, this is how Mars really attacks. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Alien', 'Event Horizon', 'The Last Days On Mars'.