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Movie Review: Life

The movie, Life, is Dead on Arrival 

Six astronauts find a life form on an internationally staffed expedition to Mars. They bring the specimen on board their space ship and it finds the conditions on the craft very much to its liking – and grows to be a threat to the crew.

This Life is Dead on Arrival. It simply lacks any originality. First choosing Mars as the destination shows no creativity. That planet has been the focus of film space travel for over 50 years. Then the organism looks and behaves like the ones from Alien. And it thrives on food, water, and oxygen. It must have taken the screenwriters hours, even days to come up with that theory.

Life features a star-studded cast including Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson. But their characters all look and sound like any other onscreen space shuttle crew.

The special effects are routine and unexceptional.

Life does boast a solidly diverse crew with a black actor (Ariyon Bakare) and a Japanese actor (Hiroyuki Sanada). Actor Samuel L. Jackson recently complained about Hollywood hiring black British performers to play black American characters. Bakare is British; but so is the person he plays in the film.

In the end, this Life doesn’t survive film critiquing scrutiny and gets our lowest rating, Dead on Arrival.

Life is rated R, for scary scenes and language and is 103 minutes.

Movie Review: Demolition

This Demolition really is a wreck.

It was over so quickly, investment banker Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his wife Julia (Heather Lind), are driving one seemingly normal weekday afternoon when a car crashes into the side of their vehicle killing her. Almost immediately, Davis reacts strangely to his wife's death. After he receives the sad news at the hospital, he goes to a vending machine which takes his money without delivering the candy. He photographs the vending company's contact information with his phone. He shows up at work rather than taking the time to grieve. His boss who is also his father-in-law deeply mourns the loss of his daughter and dismisses his son-in-law's aloofness to the shock over the tragedy. Despite there being many more pressing matters to deal with, Davis decides to write the vending machine company, not just one letter about the lost coins, but a series of letters.

Out of concern for his mental stability one of the customer service reps (Naomi Watts) from the vending machine company, calls Davis. Their initial exchanges result in an intertwinement of their lives. Also, Davis begins to take pleasure in destroying structures, even paying construction site foremen to participate in the demolition of buildings, thus, the title of the film.

Demolition fails simply due to its storyline's absolute implausibility. A man at a hospital learns a car accident in which he was in, killed his wife. He then attempts to buy peanut candy, the machine doesn't deliver, he writes a bunch of letters to the vending machine company, the customer service rep decides to reach out and even meet him. This is set in New York City where people are very cautious of strangers. And of course, they both happen to be very attractive people.

Without a credible foundation, it's impossible for Demolition to work.

It's unfortunate that some very solid performances are wasted on this farfetched plot. Jake Gyllenhaal as Davis in the lead almost succeeds in his Atlas-like effort, to put this entire project on his shoulders and carry it to success. Veteran actor Chris Cooper excels as the tough businessman but who is emotionally devastated by the loss of his "little girl". Newcomer Judah Lewis who plays Karen's son enriches the film as he deals with some coming of age realities.

Another problem with this film is at the end it rushes through several important developments as if they either ran out of money or time.

As to our cast diversity rating, Demolition gets a "C". While actors of color have a few speaking roles and are sprinkled throughout background scenes, only one Blaire Brooks, who plays Davis' assistant, appears in multiple scenes.

Demolition gets our lowest rating, Dead on Arrival. It's not a horrible film but it's neither a See It! Nor a Rent It.

It's rated R and is 101 minutes length.

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