Foolishly assuming that a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 68% meant that it was worth watching, we viewed the very recent science fiction movie Life last night.
In case you didn't see the trailer, which made the story very clear, it's like a mash up of Alien and Gravity, each of which were better movies by an order of magnitude.
Life is terrible on all sorts of levels, and I am at a loss to understand how it got any good reviews. (By the way, this is again a case where Metacritic is a more reliable guide than Tomatoes, as it got a much more acceptable rating there of 54. But even that, by my reckoning, is 5 times more generous than it should be.)
My key complaints:
* if you know anything about astronautics, the ISS, orbits and such like, and you felt you had to forgive Gravity for a fair few inaccuracies for the sake of the story, let me assure you that Life takes "dramatic licence" into the absolutely, 100% unforgiveable "crimes against reality" range. I would have thought, for example, that at least some critics might question using something resembling an improvised flame thrower not once, but several times, on board this futuristic version of the ISS might be a tactic that would throw everyone on board into a panic, but no - it's like the first line of defence in this movie, and no one screams to the astronaut in question "are you trying to kill us all?"
* the dialogue is life-less (ha, a pun), and no character feels real. One line in particular is just outright embarrassing - even my son recognised it as such. I don't understand how the actors didn't recognise the dubious writing, from a character point of view. Or did it look better on the page, and just got stuffed up somehow in transition to the screen? We'll never know.
* it's often not very clear what is going on, or why certain things are happening. Yeah, there's some rushed and shouted attempts at exposition, I suppose - but honestly, a good movie can manage to make it clear enough even while battling monsters.
* My son also guessed the ending, and the choice of the upbeat end credit song seemed just out of place.
Yes, a terrible movie all round. And it's a bad sign for Jake Gyllenhaal - who I basically like - as it appears to confirm that he is in the category of "good actor, but puzzlingly terrible at picking screenplays."