Life Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Life is one of those films that plays out pretty much as you would expect. The main characters are considerably out of their league when they venture into outer space. Now, it may not be because of aliens, but I certainly wouldn’t want to go into space myself. It looks really constricting and of course you can’t just head home if you don’t like the experience. You’re stuck up there for a very long amount of time. Maybe at best you can ask everyone to put you back in stasis or something.

So the movie picks up with a group of scientists aboard a spaceship picking up what could be the first sign of life outside of Earth. It looks a bit like an amoeba but one that is quickly growing. Derry is thrilled and gets a little too obsessed with his research to the point where he starts disregarding safety protocols. Unfortunately this allows the alien known as Calvin to escape his cage and begin his massacre of the crew. Can they band together to stop him or will they ultimately be crushed?

Yeah so this is basically Alien only instead of fighting a powerful Xenomorph the heroes are battling with an Amoeba that gradually grows. The more Calvin grows, the more he begins to look like one of those mini Clover monsters from Cloverfield. The design for his final form actually isn’t bad. Sure, it’s not as threatening as the Xenomorph or anything like that but it does have a scary looking face.

Additionally, the fact that it can change shapes and move so fast makes it potentially more dangerous than a Xenomorph. At least with the Xeno you will die instantly when it tears through you while this monster tends to take its time with the prey and drag everything out. Yet another reason why you don’t want to be enemies with this guy since it definitely won’t be ending very well.

The crew are okay at best. First you have Derry who is very annoying. We have safety precautions for a reason and the instant he threw them away that was it. Additionally, even after Calvin has murdered at least 2 people you still have this guy saying how this could be a learning experience and everything. Really? That time has long since passed if you ask me.

Adams was the best member of the crew but unfortunately, he doesn’t last very long. At least he was trying to go on the attack, Calvin was just too fierce. For his bravery, Adams’ only reward is the most painful death in the film. Certainly not the way that you would want to go out and it’s always a disturbing way to die with the villain basically going inside of you.

Then there is Golovkina who also goes out in a super rough way. She had to make a tough call at the end and even if it didn’t work out, you can see why she made that decision. Bringing Calvin anywhere is a super big risk so at least in the vacuum of space you figure it wouldn’t be too bad. Calvin’s just too fast for any of that.
In any horror/survival film there has to be one character who just cracks under pressure. It’s a cinematic necessity and that’s Murakami’s role in this one. He splits from the rest of the crew to go to the life pod and as a result doesn’t really know what is going on until it’s too late. It’s too bad because he did all right for a while but couldn’t stick the landing.

Jordan is someone who really prefers being in space than on Earth. It’s an interesting character trait and one that you can understand. Again, I’m not a space guy but I can see why you’d want a break from all the fighting and war on Earth. Then you have North who came up with a lot of the safety protocols so it’s probably annoying for her to see how they aren’t quite working this time.

The effects aren’t bad. There’s just not a whole lot you can show in space so prepare to feel confined without a lot of cool backdrops or anything like that. Space scenes can also be rather slow since it’s hard to maneuver out there. Ultimately it’s just that the space setting isn’t very solid to me but it does what it can I suppose. Where the film really ends up shooting itself in the foot is with how gruesome it makes all of the deaths. You’d almost rather this was just a normal Xenomorph biting everyone.

This monster effectively drains your life force and explodes you from the inside out. Mix in the space effect where everything floats and you can see how the film gets a little creative there. They also manage to squeeze in some animal violence since of course there is also a mouse on board and Calvin can’t have any of that. There’s no reason that the mouse should have been here. The instant he appeared I knew that the little thing was doomed and that’s just not right. I wanted him to have a good time and hopefully get out of there in one piece. That would have been ideal but it was never a real possibility.

The ending was effective though as the kind of horror twist you’re always expecting. It plays out a little differently than I had guessed but certainly hits with the same intensity. The heroes underestimated Calvin one last time. It would lead into a sequel quite well as we get the government involved. I’m thinking the sequel would beat the original because Earth makes for a much more interesting setting. Alas, sequel are never guaranteed so we’ll see if that ever happens.

Overall, Life doesn’t add anything new to the equation. The setting limits how much fun it can really bring to the table and the movie focuses too much on how brutally Calvin can murder the crew instead of making this more of a slow burner thriller. Alien had better designs and ship layout even though it came out so long ago. The idea of finding aliens in space is always interesting and you should be engaged for a while but you can’t help but feel that the film left a lot on the table. There is so much more you can do with this concept without having to make it so brutal. Ultimately this is one that you should skip.

Overall 2/10

Family Game Night 3 Review


It’s time to look at an old party game I have for the PS3. Oddly enough, even though I played the games back in the day I never bothered to actually upload it to the site or anything. Well, it was a good excuse to go back and replay the game for the review, but unfortunately it isn’t as good as I remembered it and I already knew that it was a bad game. I dare say that this could be the worst party game of them all and that’s saying something. At the very least it gives the bottom tier ones some competition.

There are 5 minigames total. That’s already a pretty sad number when you consider that this is a PS3 game. I mean, you could have a little excuse for this if it was for an older system, but for the PS3 I expect more. There is nothing else to do in this game so if you’re looking for some good replay value look elsewhere. I mean, I suppose you could go after the Platinum trophy, but you’ll have to sink in a decent amount of hours for that and with how many luck based trophies there are it could be a while. I think you can cheese most of them through two player mode if it helps. You will also be gathering some Potato Head costumes along the way which I guess should be interesting.

Lets look at the actual games though as a party title lives or dies on those. We’ll start with 2 of the good ones. The first is Twister. It’s pretty self explanatory except they misspelled Dance Dance Revolution. After all this Twister game is nothing like Twister. You hit the right buttons as they pass the screen. It’s the exact gameplay of a DDR game, but without having to actually dance and hit the buttons yourself. It’s an easier way of doing it, but less engaging. Still, on its own I actually like this minigame. There was a reasonable amount of effort put behind it and the core gameplay is just fun. Not to mention that there is less waiting on this one since I believe each player tries to match the notes simultaneously.

The next minigame is Yahtzee. This one must be easy to develop or something since it seems to be the old standby for pretty much all of the party games on the block. Well, that’s not a bad thing I suppose since the gameplay isn’t half bad. The problem is that they add a Hands Down! mechanic where you have to get a certain combo and then fight someone with the same one. I don’t get the point of this and it just takes away some of the fun. It drags the games out more than they should be since it forces everyone to keep going until 2 people have the exact card combination. Of course dragging things out is exactly what this game likes to do as you’ll see in the next 3 games.

Next up we have got Mouse Trap which is basically a movie. You roll the dice and move through the board that has no ending. The goal is to pick up a lot of cheese which you get by landing on a cheese spot. Thing is, you can’t control anything except for dodging some traps by pressing x at the right time. Beyond that, you just follow the dice and keep on rolling until you get your cheese. This can take over 15 minutes, likely longer if you play multiplayer. The problem is that the cheese traps take your cheese away and the odds of getting a lucky roll to land on the cheese 6 times is quite low. At least, it’s low if you want to finish at a reasonable time. I think my problem with this is that you aren’t really doing anything so is it really a game at that point? It’s 100% luck and that’s not cool. There is absolutely no point to the game and it takes too long to finish. Making it more interactive would have helped a lot.

Life falls into the same traps. This one has you on a long, straight board without any real mixups or elements to make it interesting. You want to retire and whoever does so first wins. So, to do that you spin the dice and watch where the road takes you. You do get some slight options like choosing 3 cards out of 9 but they are all random so you can’t see what it is anyway and then you pick your favorite card which will give you some effects. You won’t know which effect you’ll be getting though since you have to wait until you roll the dice for that. Everything is just so random and nothing is explained properly. It’s another really boring auto game where nothing is happening.

Finally we have Clue. This one is a slight improvement over the last 2 but not by much. At least you are trying to solve a case and you can choose in what direction you move. On the other hand, a lot of time is wasted for the many special effects that happen every turn. Whenever someone turns on the lights we get a cutscene and either a suspect is eliminated or one of the players will lose a turn. Either way it takes up time and if someone rolls a house party effect then everyone is reset back to their original positions. This is the longest cutscene by far as it’s almost a full minute and the computer activated it multiple times during our encounter. The minigame is pretty faithful to the board game, but it’s nowhere near as fun.

Family Game Night just didn’t realize how to make the board games fun in video game format and that is the big problem here. The game could and should have been a lot of fun, but instead it is just too drawn out. There are also loading times between every game that take up a lot of time. It’s the same cutscene for each loading time as well which doesn’t help matters. Each game also gets an unskippable intro that isn’t as amusing as it seems to think it is. The game is definitely not optimized.

As far as the graphics go, it’s certainly not PS3 level. I doubt that a lot of serious effort was put into this game. It was probably slapped together very quickly and rushed out to stores for the $$$. Hopefully it didn’t work as I can’t imagine buying it for full price and then realizing how terrible it was. At least Game Night 4 heavily improved upon this game but there is still no excuse for starting out this badly. At least give us a good soundtrack!

Overall, This game is brutal. I’m not going to mince words here, the game is terrible! There’s no heart behind the game and the actual game selection is bizarre. You shouldn’t have 3/5 of the games be all about rolling the dice and hoping that you get the right number. It probably saves on production costs since the games are so similar, but it’s not great from a player perspective. There won’t be any point where you are actually enjoying this game enough to justify buying it. I highly recommend avoiding it and if you want a decent party game check out the Mario Party series. That one gets in a proper balance of skill and luck while also making sure that no minigame overstays its welcome. That’s how you make a party game.

Overall 3/10