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The Curator of Schlock #195 by Jeff Shuster

Life

More like death, lots and lots of death.

Welcome to week two of the Museum of Schlock’s Relativity Series, a range of exhibits that dare to ask what’s really out there. Each year Hollywood gives us some inspirational movie about NASA. Whether it’s Gravity, Interstellar, The Martian or The Arrival, these movies teach us about the triumph of the human spirit in the perils of space. 2017 has given us Life from director Daniel Espinosa, a film about a group of scientists discovering the first definitive proof of life outside of planet Earth.

Life1

The title of this movie gives me hope. What’s more hopeful than life itself?

So these scientists are stationed on the International Space Station. You have two Brits, two Americans, one Japanese, and one Russian. I guess that’s international enough. Ugh. I hate movies with too many characters!

Life2

We’ve got six scientists here. Let’s see. Rebecca Ferguson plays Dr. Miranda North, an officer with the CDC.

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Ryan Reynolds plays Rory Adams, an engineer of some kind. Hiroyuki Sanada plays Sho Murakami, another engineer. Olga Dihovichnaya plays Ekaterina Golovkina, the Mission Commander. There. I think that’s it. Crap. I’ve got two more characters. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Dr. David Johnson, a medical doctor who used to serve in the American military. Finally, you have Ariyon Bakare playing Dr. Hugh Derry, a genius exobiologist who is paralyzed from the waist down, but enjoys free movement in zero gravity.

Life4

The space station recovers a probe NASA sent out to Mars. It contains dirt. Martian dirt! Dr. Derry is especially excited when he discovers a dormant cell in one of the samples. Dr. Derry manages to wake up the cell after some poking and prodding. A media circus ensues. A little schoolgirl wins a contest where she gets to name the organism. She names it Calvin after her elementary school, no doubt named for Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President. Calvin keeps growing in size and forms tentacles. For some reason, this doesn’t alarm anyone. A lab fire causes Calvin to go dormant again much the dismay of Dr. Derry.

Life3

He starts poking at it with a dental scraper. Suddenly, Calvin springs to life wrapping its tentacles around Dr. Derry’s rubber gloved hand. It starts crushing Dr. Derry’s hand until every bone is broken. Only then can Dr. Derry slide it through. He passes out shortly after. Calvin then uses the scraper to puncture the glove, slipping out into the lab to devour a captive gerbil. Okay. Screw Mars!

Life 6

Things go from bad to worse. Rory rushes in to rescue Dr. Derry. He pushes Dr. Derry out, but Calvin latches onto his leg. Rory uses some kind of blowtorch on the creature, but it evades and evades until he runs out of fuel. Sealed inside with nowhere to flee, Rory is defenseless as Calvin slips down his throat and begins to devour his insides. Rory slowly coughs up globules of blood before expiring. Calvin escapes through the sprinkler system. This crew is screwed. Yes, I know I used screw twice in this review. It’s that kind of movie.

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NASA, just leave Mars alone. Please!


Jeffrey Shuster 4

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

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