Extinction - Review
I love original science fiction stories. I also love the easy medium that Netflix provides in order to view original science fiction stories. Extinction is the latest Netflix Original Film, and while the premise is intriguing, its the execution of it that makes the movie problematic.
There will be a spoilers throughout.
I did not see the huge twist coming that Extinction provided. There is a lot of material there. Maybe even a television series worth of story leading up to this movie. The twist is the sole saving grace of Extinction which is way more bland and vanilla than it should have been.
The two leads are not who I would have expected. I liked that to begin with. I am familiar with both Michael Pena and Lizzy Caplan. But I associate them with more light and comedic roles. They had to do work to win me over, and it took a bit of time in order for that to happen.
Mike Colter plays a supporting role, but he is severely underused. He has proven that he can anchor his own story, and they should have been able to use him more.
The children give good performances when acting scared. I've seen criticisms that say they are annoying, but I feel that the kids acted exactly how first world kids would act in that situation. It is worth noting that the younger daughter is played by Erica Tremblay, who is the younger sibling of Jacob Tremblay and Supergirl star Emma Tremblay
That is all that is notable cast wise though, the rest of the cast is utterly forgettable. There was nothing wrong with their performances, they were just vanilla and ordinary.
As for the story, it starts a little slow, and had just enough intrigue to get me to the twist, which happened way too late in the movie. Once I found out what the twist was, I wanted to see more of the premise, but presented in a better, stronger way.
The hook and the theme were squandered. Once the story reveals itself, it demands being explored further. But it is explained away with a bit of exposition. We are told it had happened, and why. We should see why it happens, and experience the slow build up. Take the Planet of the Apes franchise for example. Our basic instinct is to automatically root for the human, if they are against something non-human. Movies like Independence Day and Alien make the non-human thing the bad guys, and the humans are the ones we cheer for because those are the characters we can relate to.
In Planet of the Apes, especially the new ones, they do the work to make us care for the Apes. By the time War For The Planet of The Apes happens, audiences are wholly convinced that the humans are the villains. We cheer for, and empathize with the apes, who are the heroes of the story.
This is the path that Extinction should have taken. We only root for the non-humans because we are told to. It doesn't feel earned, and there is always room to reverse that notion if they wanted to.
Director Ben Young's cut is only 95 minutes long. A story with the potential depth that this has deserves to be at least 2 hours so we can get to some deeper motivations.
The movie really stuck with me because of the premise. But I want to see that premise execution to perfection. Extinction fell short of that. There was so much to mine out of it. But it only scratched the surface. It isn't a good sign when you imagine a better version of the movie as you are watching it.
I felt that Extinction had some similarities to Arrival in some ways. But Arrival was executed better. It built up the suspense and had the reveal at the perfect time. Extinction felt like a inferior version of that. Arrival was one of my favorite movies of 2016. Extinction is a movie I saw in 2018.
Since it is a Netflix Original, you have nothing extra to lose by checking it out. It isn't awful. It is just vanilla, bland and ordinary. Which is sometimes worse than going for broke.
Extinction is now streaming, exclusively on Netflix.