Life (Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 12-Jul-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror/Sci-Fi Deleted Scenes-x 6 (5:49)
Featurette-Astronaut Diaries (3:00)
Featurette-Life: In Zero G (6:54)
Featurette-Creating Life: The Art and Reality of Calvin (7:07)
Featurette-Claustrophobic Terror: Creating a Thriller in Space (7:28)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 103:55
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Daniel Espinosa
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Jake Gylenhaal
Ryan Reynolds
Rebecca Ferguson
Ariyon Bakare
Hiroyuki Sanada
Olga Dykhovichnaya
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Jon Ekstrand


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
German DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Italian DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
Italian
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The mission of the six crew members of the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting the Earth, Mission Commander Ekaterina Golovkina (Olga Dykhovichnaya), Flight Engineer Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds), Medical Officer David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), Systems Engineer Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada), Exobiologist Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) and Disease Control and Prevention Officer Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), is to intercept a probe sent to Mars on its way back to Earth and to analyse the soil samples collected by the probe for any sign of life. They successfully catch the probe and in the soil Hugh discovers an inert, single cell organism which a competition on Earth names “Calvin”.

     Hugh subjects the organism to various tests; changing the temperature and atmospheric composition in Calvin’s sealed container and he is rewarded when Calvin starts to grow and seemingly recognise its environment. However it is no surprise and no spoiler to say that Calvin evolves into an intelligent and curious lifeform, a parasite that when threatened or attacked responds with an adaptability and level of force that results in deaths among the crew. Calvin is also extremely resilient and difficult to kill; if it reaches Earth it could mean the end of humanity.

     Life, directed by Daniel Espinosa, is another haunted house in space film showing the influence of Alien (1979), so much so that at one place one really expects a “chestburster” to appear (it doesn’t, not quite). While not up to the standard of Alien (not many films are), Life is a well-made, functional thriller that is tense, scary and claustrophobic with intense periods of movement and action within the ISS. Indeed, the technical achievement of filming the actors with the appearance of weightlessness as they literally fly along through the narrow passageways and hatches is quite astounding. Critics have pointed out that this is not in fact how weightlessness occurs, but this is a film and it looks great, and is exhilarating to watch. An extra on this Blu-ray shows how it is done, but this in no way limits the filmmakers’ achievement. Put simply, as shot by cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, Oscar nominated for Atonement (2007) and Anna Karenina (2012), Life looks superb.

     The cast list is also impressive. Jake Gyllenhaal is good in almost anything, Rebecca Ferguson has been excellent in the two recent Mission Impossible films while Ryan Reynolds is on a purple patch with the Deadpool films; Reynolds previously worked with Daniel Espinosa on Safe House (2012) and it was intended that he would be the lead in Life until scheduling issues occurred because of his role in The Hitman’s Bodyguard so for Life he was reduced to a supporting role.

     Life makes an attempt at a backstory for some of the characters and has a bit of discussion about the ethical concerns and / or benefits resulting from growing the organism, but these are fairly perfunctory before the action asserts itself. So while Life certainly looks stunning and the action is well-staged and exciting, ultimately it is a rather hollow shell of a film that the good cast is unable to elevate to a higher level. However, that may be enough.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Life is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The images of the space station orbiting the Earth are beautiful, with the station fully detailed in the blackness above the blue / white of the planet, while the narrow corridors, living quarters and holds of the ISS are nicely detailed. Colours in the interior of the space station are predominately grey and sandy, the yellow of the solar panels standing out. There are also flashes of yellow and red during some sequences. Shadow detail is excellent, skin tones are natural, contrast and brightness consistent. There are no marks although occasional motion blur is evident as the astronauts move quickly around the station.

     English and English for the hearing impaired subtitles are available plus German, Italian and Turkish. One section of Japanese is subtitled automatically.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is English DTS-HD MA 7.1, English descriptive audio utilising a female voice (Dolby Digital 5.1), plus German and Italian dubs (DTS-HD MA 5.1).

     I am not set up for 7.1 but the 5.1 track is subtle and impressive. There was always the rumble of machinery in the rears and surrounds, the space debris striking the probe at the beginning is thunderous, the action sequences boisterous as the astronauts either hunt the organism or try to avoid it, with everyone and Calvin careering around the corridors. Other sections, such as the airlock and Soyuz docking segment, reverberate. The subwoofer was used appropriately during the action and to support the thrust of the engines. Sometimes the characters all speak together, creating a babble of voices so it is hard to hear what individuals are saying; this is deliberate but at other times some of the dialogue was not as clear as it might have been.

     The score by Jon Ekstrand was effective.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Deleted Scenes (5:49)

     There are six deleted scenes that can be selected individually or via a play all option. Most are quite short, a couple are longer. They were deleted before the rigs and wires simulating zero gravity were removed in post. The scenes are:

Astronaut Diaries (3:00)

     Three short diary entries, complete with breaking up signals, sent from the ISS by Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson and Ariyon Bakare in character.

    The following three featurettes all include film clips, on-set behind the scenes footage, sketches and concept drawings and, in one, previs, plus comments from the cast and crew including director Daniel Espinosa, cast Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiro Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare, the writers Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese, two producers, the stunt coordinator, movement coach, visual effects supervisor, art director, a geneticist and medical space specialist.

Life: In Zero G (6:54)

     This covers how the team created the zero gravity effect using wires and harnesses, the pressures on the actors, movement and the space suits.

Creating Life: The Art and Reality of Calvin (7:07)

     The various incarnations of the alien organism, the scientific basis of the creature, its abilities.

Claustrophobic Terror: Creating a Thriller in Space (7:28)

     Creating the tension and terror from the unknown in an confined space, isolation, reality and the reactions of the various crew to the alien life form.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US Region Free Blu-ray of Life adds a few extra dubs and subtitles and some trailers for other films but otherwise is the same as our release.

Summary

     Life is nothing new and the characters are somewhat hollow but the film is well-made with spectacular effects, a good cast and some decent action that holds one’s interest. While any film fan could have predicted that reviving an alien organism is not a great idea, fans of the genre will not be disappointed.

     The video and audio are impressive, the extras add value to the Blu-ray package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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