The Culture Movies

'Life' is glumly earnest

'Life' stars Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal as members of a crew of astronauts and scientists who get picked off by a space creature. 

'Life' stars Ryan Reynolds.
Alex Bailey/Columbia Pictures-Sony/AP
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  • Peter Rainer

“Life” is pretty lifeless. Set inside the orbiting International Space Station, this “Alien” knockoff, haphazardly directed by Daniel Espinosa, features a motley crew of astronauts and scientists, played by, among others, Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds, who get picked off one by one by the resident gross-out space creature – a single-cell organism culled from a Mars soil sample that inexorably morphs into something resembling an icky manta ray.

Given the fact that “Life” was co-written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who co-wrote the wacked-out “Zombieland” and “Deadpool,” the film’s glum earnestness is doubly disappointing. Not much is even made of the fact that the creature is nicknamed Calvin. Any movie that showcases a villain named Calvin is in trouble. Grade: C- (Rated R for language throughout, some sci-fi violence, and terror.)