LIFE: I wouldn’t blame anyone for dismissing this movie as a “poor man’s” knock-off of ALIEN (1979). Like that Ridley Scott directed horror-science fiction favorite, the setting is a confined environment in space where an extraterrestrial organism becomes predatory and runs amok killing the vessel’s crew. Sound familiar? The variation in this woefully average work is that it takes place aboard the International Space Station hovering above Earth with its deadly occupant having just arrived from Mars. Because we feel like we know what’s coming since we’ve seen it all before, there’s a predictability in the screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (DEADPOOL) that smothers any suspense that’s crucial to the element of horror. The creature itself resembles a headless octopus whose “weapon” is to latch on to victims and squeeze blood out their orifices. Jon Ekstrand’s background music is appropriately majestic when the photography emphasizes the infinite vastness of space before taking on a more ominous moody tone when disaster and the “martian” are about to strike. The crew are all forgettable enough to be expendable including Jake Gyllenhaal (See CLOSING CREDITS.) and Ryan Reynolds (ADVENTURELAND) who are normally fun to watch even when the movie they’re in is beneath their skills. By the time the “twist ending” occurs, it’s too late to salvage a film we don’t really want to see a follow-up to. Proper science fiction is the “thinking person’s” genre of film since it often asks us to ponder things to come. But this is a movie that gets less credible when we begin to contemplate all of the plot holes, like why Mars wasn’t discovered to be overrun by headless octopi before they got on the International Space Station or why six of the most intelligent people from Earth do such stupid things to get themselves killed in outer space. CRITIC’S GRADE: C

CLOSING CREDITS: Here are some much better movies starring Jake Gyllenhaal. - OCTOBER SKY (1999), DONNIE DARKO (2001), THE GOOD GIRL (2002), MOONLIGHT MILE (2002), THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (2004), BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)*, JARHEAD (2005), PROOF (2005), ZODIAC (2007), SOURCE CODE (2011), END OF WATCH (2012), NIGHTCRAWLER (2014)

*Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor