Despite the shoddy pace and wafer thin characters, there was still life in this tense little sci-fi horror.
A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form, that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.
I didn’t expect much from this. The trailers bored me and the extended looks did nothing to win me over. BUT I was a fan of the line up. So was it shame on me?
Jon Ekstrand’s ominous score certainly grabbed my attention. The brooding atmosphere, the simmering tension, the nothingness of space. Seamus McGarvey’s glossy cinematography. Perfect.
It was just a shame that momentum couldn’t stick. The slow burning opening act soon put me into a mini-coma.
The disorienting claustrophobic camera work may have simulated the feeling of floating around in a space station BUT it irritated me. The POV angle of Ryan Reynolds’ Rory intercepting the damaged satellite was a nice touch.
BUT it didn’t help that the characters weren’t that interesting.
Rebecca Ferguson’s (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) uptight doc and Jake Gyllenhaal’s (Nocturnal Animals) depressed David were dreadfully dull.
I always felt Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai) was an underrated supporting actor BUT his character was dire. A perfect opportunity to shine squandered.
And Ryan Reynolds just played the same old spiel again. Adapting the role of the cocky fast talking joker. Boring.
There wasn’t any depth and the bland exchanges between the crew just killed the tension. Especially as they left messages for their loved ones and gave cringe inducing virtual tours of the ship to the “world”. Yuck.
Thankfully by the 25-30 min marker, the film finally hit its stride as the crew discovered life and the answers to the universe in the form of a squid-like jellyfish named “Calvin”.
Ariyon Bakare (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) made a memorable impression as Hugh. The delighted doc whose fascination with Earth’s new mascot bordered on obsession.
BUT I could still feel myself getting impatient as the crew carried out tests. However, one botched lab experiment later . . .
All that curiousity and wonder swiftly turned into sheer fear and panic as the crew’s new play thing decides to make a break for it. A bloody trail left in his wake.
The middle act delivered with an unnerving and nail biting thriller as Calvin continued to grow in size and intelligence. A game of cat and mouse set in motion.
“Calvin doesn’t hate us. He has to kill us in order to survive”.
The Alien meets Gravity vibe worked as the killer creature craftily picked the crew off one by one.
The special effects were brilliant. Calvin’s transformation creeped the hell out of me. His squid-like tentacles scuttling around the labyrinthine hallways. A spider toying with his prey. Shudder.
I was worried that the wafer thin character development would make me less interested in the crew’s survival BUT Gyllenhaal and Ferguson’s characters were thankfully fleshed out a little better as the danger ensued (Hell, I even warmed up to Reynolds).
There were genuine moments of suspense and I couldn’t see how it was going to end which made for a tense and thrilling finale.
And by the closing credits, I left the cinema pleasantly surprised.
Just persevere with the pace and you have a solid effort that does just enough to hold its own.
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