**½/**** Image A- Sound A Extras C+
starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada
written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick
directed by Daniel Espinosa
by Bryant Frazer If you're going to steal, they say, steal from the best. It almost works out for Life, which borrows the fundamentals of its premise from Alien--hostile, shape-changing lifeform let loose in the confines of a spacecraft grows larger and more powerful as it eats its way through the crew--and rides that pony for a good forty-five nerve-jangling minutes before running out of oxygen. Alien's setting was an interstellar mining vessel that doubled as a haunted mansion, with long hallways, high vaulted ceilings, and other shadowy spaces where the boogeyman could wait for his prey. Screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick lose some of those gothic atmospherics by setting their story on board the International Space Station, since it imparts a more sterile, sci-fi feel. Moreover, in what's arguably a more brazen case of cinematic larceny, director Daniel Espinosa, best-known for the 2012 thriller Safe House, swipes his anti-gravity stylistics from Alfonso Cuarón, opening the film with a single, very long, VFX-heavy take that sends the camera around in gentle swoops from character to floating character as the space station itself tumbles slowly around its axis.