ByDavid Rodemerk, writer at
Watched HBO and Cinemax as a little kid before "binge-watching" was even a thing! Mom called me a TV Guide with diapers. Twitter @filmigos
David Rodemerk

Imagine being in space, trapped inside a space station, stuck with an alien willing to kill you just to stay alive. This is the setup of the sci-fi film Life. The scientists in the movie live aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and come into contact with life on Mars. At first, the alien is just a dormant cell that is given the nickname Calvin by a group of elementary school children. But leave it to the scientists to awaken an alien that could rival the Xenomorph in the Alien franchise. Let's take a look at why Calvin is the new badass alien on the celestial block.

3. The Combination Of Strength And Smarts

Most horror/science-fiction movies rely on a monster that is an unstoppable force of pure evil who kills without thought or feeling. Think Jason in Friday the 13th, the Xenomorphs from Aliens, or the zombies from The Walking Dead. What does differently is introduce a new formidable monster. Calvin is not only physically dangerous, but it uses its brain to solve problems and adapt to its environment. Or, as one of the characters described Calvin when it's just a young little demon of destruction: “All muscle, all brain, all eye.”

In its infancy, Calvin exhibited the ability to think, reason and kill — as shown in the scene where Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) attempted to wake Calvin using a shock wand. After being startled with the wand, Calvin went into attack mode, crushing Derry's hand like a juicy tomato. Wanting to escape its containment box, Calvin showed signs of advanced intelligence when it snapped the shock wand in half and used it to puncture through Derry's rubber glove and exit out into the lab. The characters in Life now must contend with a creature that could outsmart them at any moment and adjust to its surroundings.

2. Calvin Is One Tough Little Alien

Not only did Calvin show signs of intelligence, but it turned out to be one durable little sucker. Once it made its way into the lab, Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds) opted to go in to try to end the alien's life and rescue his friend Derry. After a few minutes of tussling with Calvin, Adams decided it was time to switch to a flamethrower. But guess what? Not only could Calvin take a few bumps and bangs, it was also impervious to fire.

The little Frankenstein of Life seemed to lack any weaknesses at first. However, once it ended up outside the ISS in space, the crew learned that Calvin (since it exhibited similar human needs) required oxygen to breathe. But it still stayed attached to the outside walls for an incredible amount of time until it found an open vent. Again, Calvin showed how it was far more tenacious than any human.

1. A Growing Alien Is A Hungry Alien

To heighten the tension, the story introduced another element that made Calvin quite the adversary. Every time Calvin ate, it caused him to grow exponentially. As was the case when Calvin devoured a helpless little mouse and it grew about four times its original size — from cute little puddle of goo to a sinister starfish with appendages that allowed it to interact with its surroundings.

Watching Calvin use those disturbing arms to crawl around the ISS was like seeing a spider slowly creep up your leg. But Calvin's growth did not stop there. During the film's grossest scene, Calvin wiggled its way into Adams' mouth to consume him from the inside out, eventually causing Adams' head to explode like a pumpkin. In the wake of it all, Calvin emerged bigger, badder, more menacing.

From its carnivorous nature to its ability to adapt to its surroundings, Calvin makes its mark as one of film's most frightening aliens. Its basic survival instinct is showcased through its terrorizing of the crew aboard the ISS. Just watching Reynolds' innards explode is enough proof that Calvin is not an alien monster that can be easily killed. Look out, movie monsters, there's a new alien that has clawed its way to a seat at the table.

Life now available on digital! Pick up your copy on Blu-ray and DVD June 20. Who wants to see Calvin take on the Xenomorphs? Sound off in the comments below.


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