With the upcoming arrival of Ridley Scott’s much anticipated Alien: Covenant, arguably the greatest sci-fi thriller franchise of all time will mark its return. Aside from continuing the saga that began 38 years ago, the film could also reignite interest in one of Hollywood’s most enduring genre’s – the sci-fi thriller. Despite the lengthy fascination with the genre, however, of the vast cannon of films that fall into this category, few really hit their mark.
Given this history, it’s all too often an uphill struggle for sci-films of this nature to find a great deal of success. The bar, as it stands, has been set so irrevocably high that in recent years, more filmmakers have moved away from the threat of alien life, to films that focus more on the vast, often cruel, limitlessness of space. Past titles like Gravity and The Martian have thrilled audiences with this model, although last year’s Arrival made good out of the alien encounter formula.
In keeping with that concept, another new alien encounter film is on its way in 2017 and thanks to Sony, we can now have a look at a clip from the film (above) as well as a new poster. Life tells the story of a crew aboard the International Space Station, who retrieve a Mars space probe with a capsule inside. As they begin to study the sample – which offers the possibility of proof of extra-terrestrial life, the sample begins to change and gain intelligence. Trapped in space with an increasingly aggressive sample, the crew of the International Space Station find themselves locked in a battle for survival.
Life marks the first return to theaters for screenwriting duo Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick since giving audiences last year’s mega-hit, Deadpool. Aside from this connection to that beloved anti-hero tale, Deadpool himself – Ryan Reynolds - stars in Life, alongside Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals), Rebecca Ferguson (The Girl on the Train), Ariyon Bakare (Rogue One) and Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine). The film is set for a March 2017 release and is directed by Daniel Espinosa, who previously worked with Ryan Reynolds on the 2012 action/thriller, Safe House. While the above featurette doesn’t answer many questions about the film, it does give a little more insight into the fact that Mars was very similar to Earth some 4 billion years earlier and something caused that similarity to cease – what exactly that something was is likely at the core of Life’s plot.
It’s interesting that Life’s producer David Ellison has previously stated how audiences are tired of franchises and that they’re “hungry” for original sci-fi. Based on what we’ve seen thus far of Life, its premise differs only marginally from most other alien encounter films. By this point, audiences know where a film like this is heading, in terms of story. If Life does indeed deserve to be acknowledged as original sci-fi, then the film itself is going to have to provide a steady stream of twists when it hits theaters in a just over a month’s time.
Perhaps it isn’t franchises that audiences are tired of after all. Perhaps sci-fi is a genre that is in need of venturing to new subject matter. Alex Garland’s Ex-Machina, for example, provided a wonderful, original look at the direction sci-fi can head in. However, audiences love to be frightened by the possibility of extra-terrestrial life, there’s no arguing that. And if Life can provide that level of fear and excitement, then it could indeed be part of a new generation of sci-fi that sets the bar rather than constantly striving to match the success of the genre’s past.
Source: Sony Pictures
- Life (2017) release date: Mar 24, 2017