Thursday, June 22, 2017

Life 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Life, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds is now available to own on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital copy. The science fiction/horror film is directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Child 44) and takes place aboard a space station. The six member crew has found the first evidence of life on Mars. As they study the organism, they soon learn that the single cell is much more than they realized.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the senior medical officer aboard the International Space Station. He is about to break the record for the most continuous days in space. Quarantine officer Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson) is concerned for his well-being, but Dr. Jordan insists he loves space travel and remains healthy. 

The extent to which his body has begun to atrophy is the least of his concerns as they bring a soil sample containing extraterrestrial Martian life on board. The sample contains a single celled organism that appears dormant. Biologist Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) studies the sample, changing temperature and offering a growth medium. With proper quarantine procedures in places, he watches the cell as it begins to move.

It moves, it grows, and it attacks with a ferocity the crew is unprepared for. As the creature attaches to Derry’s hand, crewmates Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds), Ekaterina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya) and Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada) are helpless to save him. Saving their own lives that the first priority but they quickly realize that they must stop the creature from reaching Earth. 

Life offers some good R rated sci-fi thrills. I appreciate the fact that no one in safe. You immediately realize that everyone’s not coming home. The back stories on each astronaut seems a bit contrived. You’ve got a paralyzed man enjoying the freedom of moment in space, the doctor who isn’t taking care of himself and the new father who watches his child’s birth from space. I didn’t need any background to care for the astronauts and I would have rather seen them interact more. 

Knowing how close they are, living in such tight quarters as a family, would have made it feel tragic to say goodbye to any of them. The child born while dad is in space was overkill and it’s a situation overused in movies set in space. I found it to be a very predictable story. The film boasts an ending you won’t see coming, but I argue I saw it coming from a long way off. That said, I did enjoy the film. Even with limited sets and a weightless environment, the film kept my attention and felt realistic. I was not able to tell practical sets from computer generated effects.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Blu-ray (4 out of 5 stars)                                                                  UHD (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Life’s Blu-ray isn’t the jaw dropper I’d expect but it’s pretty good overall. The first part of the film feels flat and the color palette doesn’t offer much variation. Space is black and the space station is bleak. The actor close ups provide significantly improved fine detail in facial features and imperfection. Skin tones are accurate and lifelike. The vastness of space is where the UHD version excels. There is a significant improvement in clarity and color saturation. The starkest differences come in the scenes at the end showing Earth. The UHD option offers a crisper image and was the format I preferred.
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)
Blu-ray (4 ½ out of 5 stars)                                                               UHD (5 out of 5 stars)
Life’s Blu-ray features a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which sounds really good. The Atmos track on the UHD, however, sounds like reference quality. There opening collision has the appropriate weight. The calm of the good times and the chaos of the bad times are delivered well in both formats. The Blu-ray offers a good audio presentation and the UHD version is just a bit better. The UHD exceled with the sounds of the flame thrower. The dialogue – spoken, cried or screamed comes across as well prioritized and always intelligible.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
Life’s Blu-ray offers the following supplemental features:
  • Deleted Scenes – (5:40 total runtime) Jordan Examines His Stamp Collection, Adams Mending His Helmet, The Tang Breakfast Scene, Derry in the Gym, Adams' Body Is Placed Inside His Pod, and Sho and Jordan Talk.
  • Life: In Zero G (6:55) – The challenges of a script that takes place in zero gravity are explored. The movement coach, and stunt team are shown making the heavy suits look weightless. Actors explain their difficulties acting and moving under these conditions. 
  • Creating Life: The Art and Reality of Calvin (7:08) – The Writers, The Director and Space/Science Experts discuss the scientific ideas behind Calvin. They explain the desire to make it fictional but correct and both plausible and terrifying.
  • Claustrophobic Terror: Creating a Thriller in Space (7:28) – An exploration of the always changing environment, a silent killer and a situation that’s not so far-fetched.
  • Astronaut Diaries (3:00) – A brief look at the main characters.
  • Previews
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Life is a solid sci-fi movie. Its heavier on the sci-fi than horror but the deaths are both sad and bloody. If you prefer your blood imagined, and not seen, this may not be the film for you. The best part about the story is that it feels like something that could happen in our lifetimes. It is not so far in the future that it seems like another world. Similarities to other alien-encounter gone bad films are inevitable. It wasn’t terribly inventive but Life did succeed in entertaining me, and continuing to do so after repeat viewings.

Order your copy today!

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