Life Blu-ray review

When a probe carrying samples from Mars docks with the International Space Station, the small crew discover that they've got more than they bargained for. Amongst the soil they discover a dormant alien microbe that, once free from its confinement, starts growing at a rapid rate and hunting them down.

For all of the discussion in the accompanying extra features about Life being a serious piece of science-fiction based on genuine scientific principles,  at the end of the day it's just yet another Alien clone. It's a well-made film, with excellent production values and a stronger cast (including Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson and Jake Gyllenhaal) than you'd typically expect for this sort of B-movie setup.

Yet the characterisation is still thin and the story beats as obvious as you'd find in any direct-to-DVD Alien rip-off. It also doesn't help that the design of the space beast (christened Calvin by school kids back on Earth) falls a long way short of H.R. Giger's nightmarish xenomorph, being little more than a CGI space octopus. Only the film's ending, which could have been ripped straight from the pages of a classic '50s horror comic, provides Life with anything close to a genuine sense of terror.

Picture: Shot digitally on Arri Alexa cameras, Life arrives on Blu-ray with a typically polished 2.40:1 Full HD encode. Although the flat lighting inside the International Space Station threatens to saddle the film with a uniformly muted appearance, the sheer amount of intricate detailing packed into the panels covering the walls ensures that there's a sense of depth and volume to each and every shot. Shadow detail is also extremely well resolved, which helps lift the otherwise gloomy material another notch or two.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: Even before Calvin starts causing havoc, the film's involving DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix does a convincing job of capturing the 'spam in the can' feeling of life in an enclosed environment in space. And things only get better when things start going wrong, with the catastrophic events of Chapter 13 in particular delivering wave after wave of persistent and powerful bass.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: Sony's reasonable selection of extras consists of six deleted scenes (framed at 2.00:1 with post-production work still to be done), three in-character video diaries and a trio of informative featurettes looking at the challenges of recreating a weightless environment; the development of Life's CGI monster; and the themes that the movie addresses.
Extras rating: 2.5/5

We say: Excellent picture and sound help elevate this thoroughly average sci-fi horror flick on Blu-ray.

Life, Sony Pictures, All-region BD, £25