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Okay, so it’s like Alien, in that a bunch of people in space wind up with a smart, deadly xenomorph on board and have to figure out how to stop it. And it’s like Gravity, in that one of those people would rather be melancholy among the stars than miserable on earth. And it’s like The Martian, in that smart scientists are constantly having to innovate and recalculate based on new difficulties. And it’s like Independence Day, in that the critter has tentacles and sort of a rudimentary face. And it’s like Deadpool, in that Ryan Reynolds cracks wise and suffers horribly. What of it? It’s also unlike all of those films, in that director Daniel Espinosa is capably doling out tension over horror, personal sacrifice over personal crises, the limits of intelligence over its glories, animal instinct over alien malice, and genuine, endless darkness over its chuckleheaded imitation. Here is a story that knows how to put the nihilism in the vast nothingness of space. If you’re into that sort of thing. With Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Fergusun. (2017) — Matthew Lickona

Rated R | 1 hour, 50 minutes
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So, I want to thank the Reader for letting me win 2 tickets to see a packed preview of this film at Edwards Mira Mesa 18 last night. Because I would have been really sorry to pay money to see it. Matthew, your capsule review nailed the director's intent: triumphant nihilism. Raise your hand if you want to see yet another movie about unmentioned God sending the unstoppable destroyer to wipe out humanity (or at least the International Space Station's crew) because of their pride at playing small-g god with a vial of Martian dirt. Jake G brings appealing baleful looks to the film in between being chased around the ISS by the beast the crew created. The other 5 actors are forgettable red-shirts - except Ryan Reynolds playing himself as a janitor in outer space, at one point quite truthfully turning to the camera and saying "I know 4 other guys who can do my job here"... Matthew, did you sense Jake G wanted to play the space psycho loner supporting role ("he's been out here too long) in the early scenes while Ryan R would be the wise-cracking lead before Ryan R realized what a turd this would be and bailed out? I can tell you the big crowd of the preview realized it too; they didn't gasp, cheer or laugh at any of this movie. Except when the first few minutes of the film played silently (broken sound system) and the guy in front of me yelled out, no wonder this is free!

March 23, 2017

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