Went to see the movie with a friend, i vaguely remembered that i've read something about it somewhere (skimmed this review here), but couldn't remember much, even thought it might be nice to watch something without too much input beforehand, doesn't happen often these days.
Now i have to say i came back, because i wanted to know why no one tried to warn me of this. It's best parts literally are it's trailer, the establishing shot and the credit music, or to put it in other words: The idea, lighting the fire and then the cinder, everything in between being toxic smoke rising from an uncomfortable garbage-fire.
Really, Life is comparable to Alien in that it's about "a crew trapped in a spacecraft with an alien entity which hunts them" - but that's where any similarity pretty much ends, because Alien works and Life just doesn't.
To explain: Alien works, because it's about some future, where space travel isn't as much of a big deal anymore and the crew we follow are pretty much just nameless workers on a ship which is basically just one of many owned by a big company. They deviate from their route to investigate a distress call, things go wrong and they become prey to another life form which is a natural born hunter, picking them off on their own ship - not all of it may be believable, but it doesn't have to be, because it plays in a more distant, fictional future, where things can be different. In Alien, you may or may not care about most of the crew members, but at least the movie invests a little more time to show us their characters, how they eat together, laugh, bicker and some, we can believably see how they share their living space and that they are... people - including a badass heroine. And because of that, when the tension of the threat builds and we follow the crew down dark corridors of their ship, we can share their horror. There have been dozens of better analysees what makes Alien a good movie, but i'd say those are some of the basics why it works.
And Life is just lacking all of that. To be honest, i did really like the establishing shot, which appears to be a continuous shot through the ISS, as if we were on it, drifting by the other crew members, getting a glimpse at what they're doing there. But after that, everything pretty much just goes down the drain. And i'd say, to pick the ISS and a rather contemporary setting for the movie and to then write/ direct it as it is, was probably the worst decision in the entire making of this movie.
The ISS is supposed to house some of the smartest people from earth, experts in their respective fields, well trained for their mission and equipped with top tech at all times - NASA computers already were some of the safest systems before most people even ever saw a computer and they still are today. So why is it, that every single person on the ISS behaves like a freaking moron, taking every opportunity to fuck up as badly as possible, even their biologist, which is called "the best in his profession" or something, doing lab safety violations comparable to a child in middle-school, or the computer system fucking up whenever they get an idea that just might work.
So in addition to having to watch idiots in space, they don't even give you any reason to care about any of them, as there is almost no build up, as well as pretty much all of the movie being "all tell, no show", as the characters not only explain pretty much every single thing they're doing step by step, but also how they supposedly feel, or stand towards each other, instead of showing us any of this, or most things that are shown being pretty random. As examples, when two of the crew members called each other "friends" during the movie, the only thing i could think of was: "yeah, really, were you? Because i didn't really see anything that might resemble, or even hint at any actual friendship. Looked to me like you were pretty much just colleagues and not even very good ones in that". Or when one crew member softly touches the face of another, because... i have no fucking idea, maybe there was supposed to be some sort of intimacy, or romance, but there just wasn't and it did neither come from, nor developed into anything. And to top it off, they use any possible calm moment in the movie to talk pseudo intellectual bullshit about life and space and borders and... i just couldn't buy any of it, it's just too stupid.
And while the ISS might add a more claustrophobic vibe to the whole situation, which could work well, that is easily countered by the absolutely disorienting flow/ editing of the entire movie (after said first shot). It's supposed to be a relatively small space station, but nonetheless it's damn hard to keep track of where anything is happening at any given moment in the movie - which can work well, if it's smartly build into the setting, which this is certainly not, as most of the movie plays in a handful of rooms and the crew members certainly should know their station inside out, so why exactly are we supposed to feel sick from xy unconnected, disorienting shots?
So, to say that this movie would do a "perfectly fine job" in any way, or even to give it a mediocre rating is nothing but unreasonable to me.