Let’s Talk About LIFE, Calvin, THAT Ending, Venom & More!
SPACESHIP SIZED SPOILERS AHEAD
I watched Daniel Espinosa’s LIFE about a month ago and the ending has stuck with me ever since. The 2017 science fiction/horror film features Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds in a story about a deadly alien organism terrorising the crew aboard a space station.
Typing that makes this film sound almost exactly like every other ‘alien on a spaceship’ movie ever made. But it’s LIFE’s ending that sets it apart from the rest.
Final warning, stop reading now if you haven’t seen the film.
Towards the end of the film, it becomes obvious that the evolving alien, Calvin, cannot reach Earth or risk the extinction of every living species on the planet.
The last remaining survivors craft a plan to strand the creature in space. David (Gyllenhaal) volunteers to sacrifice his life in order to accomplish this while Miranda (Ferguson) heads back to Earth.
… Then this happens:
Let’s take this one step at a time because this single ending spawns multiple conversations about the film and Life as we know it.
First up, David’s intentions. Throughout the film, David discusses his disdain for humanity’s ability to do terrible things to each other. It’s a bitterness that’s balanced with the love he has for his crew. It causes him to stay in space longer than any other. It’s ironic that he finds his way back to Earth bringing something so terrible with him.
Given his reaction when he sees the fisherman, he clearly didn’t orchestrate this on purpose but makes me wonder why the filmmakers included these themes.
I will say that it was refreshing to watch a movie like this without a human willing to sacrifice his/her entire species. (Or Androids in other certain science fiction films…)
The most haunting part of the final reveal is Calvin’s evolved ‘spider-web’ form. Is he hibernating? Is that even him? Or has he developed a way to restrain his victims? You have to assume Calvin was planning for a long trip and David was set to be devoured slowly.
The most chilling thing to consider is what must be going through David’s mind. He believes they are drifting through space. He also believed Calvin would kill him right away. Imagine the horror knowing you’d be kept alive with such a ruthless creature in such a cramped space.
Of course, the most obvious point of discussion is ‘what now’?
How can humanity hope to survive against a seemingly indestructible creature? The movie sets up a world where Calvin likely kills everyone and everything on the planet. It’s a bold move for a science fiction film to end on such a bleak note. Unfortunately, it does expose some flaws in the narrative. As soon as the ending happens, it’s clear that everything could have been avoided had the crew made smarter decisions along the way.
Now… let’s talk about the big alien symbiote sized alien in the room.
XTRA | Holding Back Major Characters For Sequels
Sony is still moving forward with their villain focused Spider-Man universe. Many thought they had put their spin-off plans on the back burner until Tom Hardy was confirmed as Eddie Brock AKA Venom.
Immediately, you have to contemplate the possibility of Spider-Man existing in a totally separate universe than his greatest foes. It’s complicated. Even more complicated, he becomes a part of this universe as well.
That doesn’t change the fact that a Venom vs Carnage movie is a dream come true for comic book fans. (We may have to wait for a sequel to see it happen but at least there is hope.)
It’s also extremely disappointing that LIFE didn’t turn out to be a secrete Venom prequel as rumors suggested. They could have out-‘cloverfield’ed The Cloverfield Paradox.
I desperately wanted it to be true. It would have been a spectacular way to introduce the symbiote and the entire movie could have remained virtually unchanged. Calvin could have slowly learned to wrap himself around a host. The crew could have discovered the symbiote’s weakness to sound before attempting to strand the creature in space. Or the Symbiote could be the result of Calvin reproducing?
Life’s ending was bold and, as a standalone science fiction film, I’d put it right alongside some of my favorites like Sunshine and Event Horizon. But I officially believe it was a mistake not to link Calvin to the upcoming Venom film. It would have signaled a completely different approach to comic book films.
Calvin would have transformed at the end and a little hint of black goo would have blown people’s minds before the credits rolled. (M. Night Shyamalan accomplished something similar with SPLIT and look at all the goodwill he’s earned as a result.)
Regardless, Calvin is on Earth and with no sequel necessary, it’s up to our imaginations to predict what may or may not happen next. I have enormous respect for film’s that leave certain key elements up in the air. It allows for discussion and debate.
So what do you think? Do you think the ending worked? What’s Calvin’s next move now that he’s reached Earth? Do you think the rumors of the film becoming a Venom prequel were real? Was it all fabricated by fans? Wishful thinking among the comic book hopeful? If so, were you let down when it wasn’t the case?