SONY Pictures 1 hour 50 minutes. R Reviewed March 24, 2017
This film takes snakes on a plane to a whole new level. What if soil samples from Mars contained cells that could be brought to life? Astronauts and Scientists (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Aryion Bakare and Hiroyuki Sanada) aboard the International Space Station totally lose control. The space station itself is a technological wonder. And watching the crew float weightless through the corridors is so very smooth. There is so much detail as to how they function in that environment.
Scientist Hugh (Aryion Baker) wants to see if he can wake any cells in the soil samples and not only does he succeed to his great glee, he gets much more than they were all looking for. This is the Little Shop of Horrors gone ballistic. At first, the crew finds it so exciting, even getting emotional about the baby’s first moves. But as the creature grows bigger and stronger with every bloody meal, they begin to see the monster that they have created. Poor lab mouse.
Calvin, named for an elementary school in New York City, isn’t so very strange looking, but the way it works is. It’s an inside job for Calvin. Inside human bodies, that is. Weightlessness plays a part in the way blood floats in space. You might not want to eat dinner before seeing how Calvin eats his.
The focal character of the movie, of course, is Calvin. The alien’s success depends on the CGI technology and it’s expansion from single cell to cute little collection of follicles to full-on slimy eating machine. At times it looked like an octopus, other times like a squid and finally it gets a face reminiscent of the original Alien. It invades its prey. And, at time, the way it jumped around the ship, was almost cartoonish.
The crew tries to track Calvin as it moves throughout the ship thinking they can contain it, but it’s more intelligent, terrifying, and blood thirsty than they realized. Once it’s been completely unleashed, it will pop up to scare you out of your seat when you least expect it.
Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Easy Money) had worked with Ran Reynolds on Safe House and was looking for something to do with him again. Deadpool was such a success, he thought this would be a good fit. And the writers of Deadpool are the same who breathed life into LIFE. But we did not like Reynolds’ characterization in this film. He’s too glib like his superhero alter ego, trying to be too clever and funny in this setting. He is heroic in this film but it costs him big time.
Jake Gyllenhaal as Dr. David Jordan does the heavy lifting even though he’s not the Captain of this ship. Miranda North is the decision maker, played by Rebecca Ferguson. They’re both willing to go down with or without the ship. And there’s a horrifically surprising twist about survival that sets this apart from other Alien genre films. Very clever.
The music by Jon Ekstrand adds a lot to the suspense as the crew is moving through one segment of the amazingly detailed space station into other areas of the ship looking to do battle or escape from their personal ever-expanding extraterrestrial. The music is like a heart beat, and keeps building until you know something is going to happen. If you’re offered a trip on Richard Branson’s voyage to Mars, you might want to skip seeing this Zero Gravity Blood Fest.