Life (2017 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byDaniel Espinosa
Written by
Produced by
CinematographySeamus McGarvey
Edited by
Music byJon Ekstrand
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing[2]
Release dates
  • March 18, 2017 (2017-03-18) (SXSW)
  • March 24, 2017 (2017-03-24) (United States)
Running time
104 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$58 million[4]
Box office$100.5 million[4]

Life is a 2017 American science fiction horror film[5][6][7] directed by Daniel Espinosa, written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and starring an ensemble cast consisting of Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya. In the film, a six-member crew of the International Space Station uncovers the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. When members of the crew conduct their research, the rapidly evolving life-form proves to be far more intelligent and dangerous than expected.

The development of Life began in November 2015, when it was announced that Espinosa would direct a film set in space, with Wernick and Reese writing the screenplay. After the deal with Paramount Pictures was not confirmed, Sony Pictures signed on to handle the worldwide distribution rights and co-finance the film, with Skydance in March 2016. The casting call took place in January 2016, and filming took place in France, New York City and Vietnam between February and July. The visual effects were handled by DNEG, Industrial Light & Magic, NVIZIBLE, One of Us, Outpost VFX and Atomic Fiction.

The only co-production between Skydance Media and Sony Pictures, the film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 18, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States by Columbia Pictures on March 24, 2017. It received mostly positive reviews, with praise for its acting, visuals and screenplay, but was compared unfavorably with films like Alien (1979). The film grossed over $100 million worldwide against a $58 million budget.


In the near future, an unmanned space probe returns from Mars to Earth orbit with soil samples potentially containing evidence of extraterrestrial life. The probe delivers the samples to the International Space Station, where exobiologist Hugh Derry revives a dormant cell that quickly grows into a multi-celled organism; to promote the new discovery, the crew allow a group of schoolchildren to name the organism "Calvin", after Calvin Coolidge Elementary School. Hugh realizes that Calvin's cells can change their specialization, acting as muscle, neuron, and photosensory cells all at once.

While being provoked, Calvin becomes hostile, wrapping itself around Hugh's hand and crushing it. Calvin then escapes its enclosure and devours a lab rat, growing in size. Engineer Rory Adams rescues Hugh, but Calvin grabs onto his leg, prompting physician David Jordan to lock Rory in the lab. After Rory fails to kill Calvin with fire, the organism enters Rory's body through his mouth and consumes his internal organs to speed up its growth, before escaping the lab through a fire-control vent.

The crew attempts to inform Earth of the situation, but the station's communication system overheats and shuts down. The station commander, Ekaterina "Kat" Golovkina, performs a spacewalk to find and fix the problem, which turns out to be Calvin. Calvin attacks Kat and ruptures her spacesuit's coolant system. As her suit fills with coolant and she begins to drown, Kat makes her way to the airlock. Against David's wishes, Kat sacrifices herself to keep Calvin outside of the station. Unfortunately, the organism manages to separate from her body before it drifts off into space.

Calvin attempts to re-enter the station through its maneuvering thrusters. The crew fire the thrusters to blast it away, but the sudden loss of fuel causes the station to enter a decaying orbit, where it will burn up in Earth's atmosphere. Systems tech Sho Murakami suggests using the ISS's remaining fuel to get back into a safe orbit, even though it will allow Calvin to re-enter. The crew seal themselves in one side of the station and prepare to vent the atmosphere from the other side, hoping to neutralize Calvin. The organism attaches itself to Hugh's leg and uses him to slip out of the quarantined area. The crew discovers Calvin feeding from Hugh after he unexpectedly collapses; as Hugh dies from blood loss, Sho seals himself inside a sleeping pod, while Calvin tries to break inside. David and the station's hazard specialist, Miranda North, use Hugh's corpse as bait to lure Calvin away and trap it.

Having received a distress call shortly before the failure of the communications grid, Earth sends a Soyuz spacecraft to push the station into deep space. Unaware that this is a fail-safe to protect Earth and that the crew is to be sacrificed, Sho leaves his protective cover and boards the craft. He is followed by Calvin, resulting in the Soyuz's crew being killed, Sho getting trapped and sacrificing himself in a botched attempt to seal Calvin in the craft, and the vessel crashing into the ISS and further pushing it into a decaying orbit.

Fearing that Calvin will survive re-entry, David and Miranda decide to try and trap it in an ISS escape pod. Once inside, David will manually pilot the pod containing Calvin into deep space, thereby isolating it and enabling Miranda to return to Earth in the other pod. David leads Calvin into his pod and launches into space as Miranda launches her pod; she records a black box message to warn Earth of Calvin's threat. Subsequently, one pod is hit by debris from the damaged Soyuz, while David is attacked by Calvin while trying to pilot. Eventually, one of the two pods lands in the south Pacific Ocean and is found by Vietnamese fishermen, while the other pod flies away from Earth. What the Vietnamese fishermen find turns out to be David's pod. Meanwhile, Miranda's pod systems begin to fail as it flies uncontrollably into deep space. On Earth, one of the two fishermen manage to force open the pod's hatch door despite David's dying pleas, as other fishing boats begin to converge on the same spot.




On November 18, 2015, Deadline Hollywood reported that Daniel Espinosa would direct a film set in space and titled Life, from a script from Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, which Skydance Media financing and producing, with David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Bonnie Curtis, and Julie Lynn.[15] Paramount Pictures was circling to handle the distribution rights to the film, though the deal was not confirmed.[15] On January 28, 2016, Rebecca Ferguson came on board to star in the film,[16] and Ryan Reynolds subsequently joined, on February 16, 2016.[17] On March 10, 2016, Jake Gyllenhaal was cast in the film.[18] On March 15, 2016, Sony Pictures signed on to handle the worldwide distribution rights and co-finance the film, with Skydance.[19] On June 23, 2016, Hiroyuki Sanada was cast to play one of the members of the International Space Station crew,[20] and on July 19, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Olga Dihovichnaya and Ariyon Bakare were also cast in the film, playing other crew members.[21] One scene in the trailer for the film features a recycled shot from the 2007 movie, Spider-Man 3.[22]


Principal photography on the film began at London's Shepperton Studios on July 19, 2016.[21] To emulate the lack of gravity, the actors were suspended by wires that were erased in post-production. Most of the visual effects were handled by Double Negative,[23] aside from the eight-minute long take that opens the movie, which was created by Industrial Light & Magic using the ISS model sculpted by Double Negative.[24] That scene was described by Daniel Espinosa as "the inverse version of Gravity. Gravity looks at the vastness of space through the oner. I wanted to look at the claustrophobia."[25] Espinosa said that Life was "shot to make a science fiction movie that ties into this other great American genre, which is noir", with the death of the most charismatic character that seems to be the protagonist—using Psycho as an example, Espinosa explained that "Ryan [Reynolds] became my Janet Leigh"—and a downer ending.[25]


Composer Jon Ekstrand wrote his sixth score while working with Espinosa. Ekstrand aimed to create an "atonal-horror score with some melodic elements", mostly focused on orchestral music while opening with "more melodic and classical cinematic" tones to not give away the horror trappings early on.[26] Espinosa specifically told Ekstrand to seek a sound reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann, with some influence from György Ligeti to reference the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey.[25]


Life was released by Columbia Pictures on March 24, 2017, after being moved up from its previously announced release date of May 26, 2017, to avoid competition with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Alien: Covenant, the latter of which had moved up its release date from August 4, 2017, to May 19, 2017.[27][28] Life had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 18, 2017.[29]


In March 2017, it was noted that stock footage of a crowd reacting to Spider-Man catching Gwen Stacy from Spider-Man 3's B-roll was used in a trailer for Life.[30] This announcement led to theories that Life was secretly an origin story for the symbiote featured in Spider-Man 3,[31][32] a theory made more popular by the announcement of a Venom film shortly afterwards, and that Life's screenwriters, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, had previously written a Venom script.[33][34] When asked about the rumour in a Collider interview, Daniel Espinosa confirmed that he was a fan of Venom.[35] Jake Gyllenhaal would later portray Mysterio in the 2019 Marvel Cinematic Universe film Spider-Man: Far From Home. Espinosa would later go on to direct Morbius, based on the Spider-Man character of the same name. In February 2017, Skydance Interactive announced a VR tie-in promo to the film along with their first game Archangel.[36]


Box office[edit]

Life grossed $30.2 million in the United States and Canada and $70.3 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $100.5 million, against a production budget of $58 million.[4]

In North America, Life opened alongside Power Rangers, CHiPs, and Wilson, and was projected to gross $12–17 million from 3,146 theaters during its opening weekend.[37] It ended up debuting to $12.6 million, finishing 4th at the box office, behind Beauty and the Beast, Power Rangers, and Kong: Skull Island.[38] In its second weekend, the film grossed $5.5 million, dropping to 8th at the box office.[39]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 68% based on 261 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Life is just thrilling, well-acted, and capably filmed enough to overcome an overall inability to add new wrinkles to the trapped-in-space genre."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 54 out of 100, based on reviews from 44 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[40] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale,[41] while PostTrak reported just 48% of audience members gave the film a "definite recommend".[38]

Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal said of the film, "For all its flashy trappings, weighty ruminations and zero-gravity floatings aboard the International Space Station, Life turns out to be another variant of Alien, though without the grungy horror and grim fun. In space no one can hear you snore."[42] Describing the theme of outer space, Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times said "As the astronauts contend with airlocks, busted equipment and escape pods, it becomes increasingly difficult to pretend that this isn't territory where more inventive screenwriters and stronger visual stylists have gone before."[43] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone faulted not the scenes but the performances, saying there was "not a single actor in Life who manages to fill in and humanize the blank space where a character should be."[44]

Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post approved of these character flaws, saying the "conflicting dynamics of their individual temperaments lead occasionally to poor decision-making. While this may be bad for their health, it's great for the movie," adding that "Life has cool effects, real suspense and a sweet twist. It ain't rocket science, but it does what it does well—even, one might say, with a kind of genius."[45] Richard Brody of The New Yorker complimented this balance of character and plot from the director, saying "Espinosa's sense of drama is efficient, familiar, and narrow; if there's a moral sentiment to his direction, it's precisely in the limits that he imposes on the movie's dose of pain and gore."[46] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times opined that Life, with a mise-en-scène of the International Space Station, was "a wonderful setting for a meal we've tasted before," adding that it is "undeniably satisfying to be in the hands of a persuasive director who knows how to slowly ratchet up the tension to a properly unnerving level."[47]

Empire summarized their review as "Part Alien, part Gravity, just not as good as either of them. But Life whips along at a decent pace and deploys enough engaging action sequences to make it work."[48]

The survivors' reading of Margaret Wise Brown's children's bedtime story Goodnight Moon drew criticism from Peter Bradshaw[49] and Wendy Ide[50] in The Guardian and Hunter Harris on[51]


List of accolades
Award / film festival Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
16th Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project Tom Edwards, Chaitanya Kshirsagar, Satish Kuttan, Paresh Dodia for "The ISS" Nominated [52]
44th Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Film Life Nominated [53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Film Releases". Variety Insight. Archived from the original on February 18, 2017. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  2. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (March 23, 2017). "Review: In 'Life,' Extraterrestrial Fun, Until Someone Gets Hurt". The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  3. ^ "Life (SXSW 2017 Schedule)". South by Southwest Festival. Archived from the original on September 15, 2018. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Life (2017)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Life (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  6. ^ Boyle, Alan (February 24, 2017). "Horror movie 'Life' draws upon real-life biology and worst-case space scenarios". GeekWire. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  7. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (March 21, 2017). "Life review – Jake Gyllenhaal hits the retro rockets for sub-Alien space horror". The Guardian. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  8. ^ Weitering, Hanneke (March 23, 2017). "'Life' Star Jake Gyllenhaal Fears No Aliens". Purch. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  9. ^ Schager, Nick (June 19, 2017). "Ryan Reynolds' Astronaut Reveals Childhood Dreams in 'Life' Bonus Clip". Yahoo! Entertainment. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  10. ^ Baila, Morgan (March 24, 2017). "Can We Talk About Ryan Reynolds' Story Line In Life?". Refinery29. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  11. ^ Guerrasio, Jason (March 23, 2017). "How Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson went from 'Mission: Impossible' scene-stealer to the star of 'Life'". Business Insider. Archived from the original on March 31, 2019. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  12. ^ Hughes, Mark (April 14, 2017). "'Life' Star Hiroyuki Sanada Talks Sci-Fi, Horror, And 'Venom' Sequel Potential". Forbes. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  13. ^ Bakare, Ariyon (March 30, 2017). "The Meaning of Life". The Week. Felix Dennis. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  14. ^ Shaw-Williams, Hannah (January 23, 2017). "Life Character Breakdown: Meet the Astronauts". Screen Rant. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  15. ^ a b Jaafar, Ali (November 18, 2015). "Daniel Espinosa To Direct 'Life' For David Ellison's Skydance". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  16. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 28, 2016). "Rebecca Ferguson to Star in Skydance's Sci-fi Pic 'Life' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  17. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (February 16, 2016). "'Deadpool' Star Ryan Reynolds Orbiting Mars Mission Thriller 'Life' For Skydance Productions". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  18. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 10, 2016). "Jake Gyllenhaal Joins Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson in 'Life' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  19. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 15, 2016). "Sony To Co-Fi, Distrib Skydance Mars Pic 'Life;' Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson Star". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  20. ^ Pedersen, Erik (June 24, 2016). "Taylor John Smith Dives Into 'Hunter Killer'; Hiroyuki Sanada Gets 'Life'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  21. ^ a b Kit, Borys (July 19, 2016). "Jake Gyllenhaal Sci-Fi Thriller 'Life' Adds Two". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  22. ^ Alexander, Julia (March 14, 2017). "Spider-Man 3 footage is being used in the trailer for the upcoming space movie, Life". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  23. ^ Frei, Vincent (April 26, 2017). "LIFE: Huw Evans – VFX Supervisor – Double Negative". Art of VFX. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  24. ^ Frei, Vincent (April 25, 2017). "LIFE: Mark Bakowski – VFX Supervisor – Industrial Light & Magic". Art of VFX. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  25. ^ a b c Couch, Aaron (March 25, 2017). "'Life' Director on the Ending He Insisted Couldn't Be Changed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  26. ^ Chamboredon, J.C. (March 24, 2017). "6 questions with Jon Ekstrand – composer of LIFE". Milan Records. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  27. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 6, 2016). "Warner Bros. Makes 2017 Date Changes To 'King Arthur', 'CHiPS', 'Annabelle 2' & More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  28. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 19, 2016). "Seth Rogen-Bill Hader-Zach Galifianakis Astronaut Comedy Moves Off Release Schedule". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  29. ^ McNary, Dave (February 22, 2017). "Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds' Space Thriller 'Life' to Close SXSW". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  30. ^ Lussier, Germain (March 14, 2017). "The New Life Trailer Is Terrifying, Partially Because It Has Spider-Man 3 Footage In It". Gizmodo.
  31. ^ Francisco, Eric (March 16, 2017). "Marvel Fans Think 'Life' with Ryan Reynolds Is a Venom Movie". Inverse.
  32. ^ "Did This 'Life' Trailer Just Recycle 'Spider-Man 3' Footage?". Movieweb. March 15, 2017.
  33. ^ "Is 'Life' Actually a Prequel to 'Spider-Man' Spin-Off 'Venom'?". Movieweb. March 16, 2017.
  34. ^ Lussier, Germain (March 16, 2017). "Sony Just Randomly Announced a Venom Movie Will Be Out Next Year (UPDATED)". Gizmodo.
  35. ^ Weintraub, Steve 'Frosty' (March 18, 2017). "Life Director Addresses Those Venom Prequel Rumors". Collider. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  36. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (February 14, 2017). "Skydance Interactive Debuts 'Life VR,' 'Archangel' Virtual Reality Experiences". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  37. ^ Fuster, Jeremy (March 21, 2017). "Can 'Power Rangers' Slay Disney's 'Beast' at the Box Office?". TheWrap. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  38. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 26, 2017). "Family-Branded Films On Fire At The B.O.: 'Beauty And The Beast' Embraces $81M; 'Power Rangers' Mighty With $42M+". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  39. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (April 2, 2017). "'Boss Baby' Cleans 'Beauty And The Beast's Clock With $51M+ Opening; 'Ghost' Shell-Shocked At $20M+". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  40. ^ "Life Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
  41. ^ @CinemaScore (March 25, 2017). "The grade is IN! @LifeMovie received a C+ #cinemascore grade." (Tweet). Retrieved April 10, 2017 – via Twitter.
  42. ^ Morgenstern, Joe (March 23, 2017). "'Life' Review: From a Single Cell, Growth and Regression". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  43. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (March 23, 2017). "Review: In 'Life,' Extraterrestrial Fun, Until Someone Gets Hurt". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  44. ^ Travers, Peter (March 23, 2017). "'Life' Review: This A-List 'Alien' Rip-Off Is Seriously D.O.A." Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  45. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (March 23, 2017). "'Life' is no picnic for a crew of astronauts, but a real treat for the audience". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  46. ^ Brody, Richard (March 24, 2017). ""Life" Is Full of Horrors". The New Yorker. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  47. ^ Turan, Kenneth (March 24, 2017). "'Alien' Haunts Outer Space Thriller 'Life'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  48. ^ Pile, Jonathan (March 21, 2017). "Life (2017) Review". Empire Online. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  49. ^ "Life review – Jake Gyllenhaal hits the retro rockets for sub-Alien space horror". the Guardian. March 22, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  50. ^ "Life review – exuberantly grisly Alien rip-off". the Guardian. March 26, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  51. ^ Harris, Hunter. "Life Has a Lot of Gross Deaths, But Which Is the Grossest?". Vulture. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  52. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 16, 2018). "Visual Effects Society Awards: 'Apes,' 'Blade Runner 2049' Lead Feature Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  53. ^ McNary, Dave (March 15, 2018). "'Black Panther,' 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on March 16, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.

External links[edit]