Movie Review Extinction
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice…well at least it’s “free”.
OK, Netflix, by now I should know better than to expect much out of your sci-fi offerings, but you get me every time. I am an apocalypse/dystopian junky so naturally I cannot help myself, no matter how many times you burn me. Just a mere few weeks ago I sat through How It Ends waiting for it to mercifully end. Don’t even get me started on the bait and switch that was Cloverfield Paradox… or Mute… or Altered Carbon…
I should also know at this point any studio selling their film to Netflix so they can avoid an expensive theatrical release should be a huge red flag.
Yet you got me again.
Perhaps it’s the Netflix model: toss us a bone to keep us engaged in the platform and if it sucks oh well, it doesn’t cost us anything additional. Let’s be real. There is so much content, Netflix is getting my 15 bucks a month either way. Since I’m not paying them for Extinction directly it allows me to shrug it off, and Netflix will dangle the next shiny original film in front of me next month.
Anyhow off of my soapbox let’s dig into Extinction!
Directed by Ben Young, Extinction follows an engineer and family man – Peter (Michael Peña) and his vivid nightmares. His dreams are truly unsettling – depicting a war with people being gunned down in the streets by an unseen force. Eventually, the lack of sleep starts really messing with Peter; he begins to black out, alienates his friends, and neglects his family. Eventually, his wife Alice (Lizzy Caplan), forces Peter to make an appointment with a nearby clinic for some help. From there things don’t go quite as planned.
Stop and Go.
This is the first sign of trouble for Director Ben Young (Hounds Of Love): the pacing of this film. Extinction plods through the set-up for the alien invasion. To make it worse, Young fails to do anything but the mundane with it. Once the invasion kicks in, Extinction shifts gear into overdrive. It works for a while, but fails to slow down for what are possibly the most important aspects of the film.
One of the reasons I was pumped for Extinction was the cast,: Michael Peña, Lizzy Capalan and Michael Colter, are all very talented. However none of them really seemed to be utilized in this film. Peña does admirably well considering he isn’t given a ton to work with; Caplan is barely given anything at all and comes across as unlikable; Colter is only given a few throw away lines. Perhaps most criminally, Peter and Alice’s two kids are reduced to a couple of annoying shrieking banshees, when they should have had the most emotional impact.
This is the second major issue for Extinction. The script was poorly done. After finishing the film I thought of numerous ways the characters could have easily been better developed to make Extinction rise above other recent sci-fi offerings. Unfortunately, much like How it Ends, the characters are incredibly one dimensional. Without giving away spoilers, the twist at the end hinges on your emotional connection to said characters and it could have been impactful, but Extinction failed miserably to capitalize on that.
It’s Not The End Of The World
Extinction’s minimalism is engaging. The film creates an unspecified time period, generic garments, and a subtle oddness in lighting during the day. Extinction’s setting just feels off, and gives an uneasy vibe. It’s intriguing. This and the cinematography in the earlier parts of the film kept me from outright turning off this film.
Once the action picks up it’s a mixed bag; I thought it was somewhat gritty at times, but would have been much better served on the big screen.
The twist at the end of the film separates Extinction from the rest of the pack. While it could have done much more to deliver the message than early lip service and occasional visual clues, it was still plenty rewarding.
Overall the script and performances were just really hard to overcome for me, especially since Young failed to stick the landing on this one. If you are a hardcore sci-fi buff you may want to add Extinction to your queue. Casual audiences will probably find their time spent better elsewhere.