TL;DR – This is a film with a lot of promise and an interesting hook, but it’s missing that final level of polish needed for a film like this and the ending did feel like a cop-out.
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
It has been a good year for Science Fiction TV on Netflix, I mean it is only halfway through the year and we have already had such gems as Altered Carbon (see review), Lost in Space (see review), Star Trek Discovery (see review) & The Rain (see review). However, when it comes to Science Fiction films it is a bit more of a mixed bag, ranging from the excellent Annihilation (see review) to the quite disappointing TAU (see review). Today we look at the next film that Netflix has saved after having its theatrical release pulled Extinction, which has some good ideas going on but didn’t quite get there with the execution.
So to set the scene, Peter (Michael Peña) is a loving husband of Alice (Lizzy Caplan), and father to two beautiful daughters Hanna (Amelia Crouch) and Lucy (Erica Tremblay). However, most nights he is woken from his sleep after nightmares of a coming alien invasion and the damage it wreaks on the people he loves. The lack of sleep is putting a drain on his marriage, his family, and his work, with his boss David (Mike Colter) even suggesting therapy. No matter how much he tries there is something pulling him to these nightmares, are they a warning that only he can see? Well, one night as they are celebrating his wife’s new job the nightmares become real, as a drone flies over the city and then explodes signalling the first shot in a global conflict.
Now, while I am going to be a bit negative with this film, there are a couple of things that were really interesting. However, since some of these are about the story including a major plot point, there will be [SPOILERS] ahead. I do really like acting of Michael Peña, and while he is playing this role quite a bit more serious compared to some his previous work that people might be familiar with, like Ant-Man (see review), he does provide a solid core driving force for the film. As well as this, the production design for the city pre-war was really interesting, it blurs the line between pristine and lived in. I also thought that the twist at the end of the second act was a really interesting take on the genre. It is here that we find out that Peter’s dreams were not premonitions of the future, but flashbacks to the past. This is because they are all androids/synths and Peter is remembering back to when they fought the humans and kicked them off the planet, and now the humans are back. This was an interesting twist, but it happens so late in the film that it doesn’t have as much thematic weight.
While there are some good points, and I think it being on Netflix so I didn’t have the disappointment of spending money on it lessened some of the impact, there was a lot that just didn’t work. The first thing that you can see is there is just not that final polish that you expect to see in films like this. You can see it in the muzzle fire that becomes more and more flat as the film goes on, also there is a sequence with a train, where the train track falls away from behind it that would have looked fine ten years ago, but not here. As well as this, from the start, I did get a Mass Effect vibe from the ascetics and soundscape, but as the film goes on it did feel less like a homage or coincidence and more like they didn’t have time to create their own sound. Finally, while that twist is interesting, once you have time to think about it, it feels like that a lot of the build-up and costume designs exists only to hide the reveal and that’s disappointing. This is compounded with an ending that is trying to have its cake and eat it too, and writing for the child characters that was just infuriating at times.
So in the end, do we recommend Extinction? Well honestly, I’m not sure that we can. If this was say the first movie-length episode for a TV series, then I might be interested to see where they take it. However, for a standalone work, there are just too many flaws to really recommend it, though there are worse ways to spend your time if someone else flicks it on and you have to watch it.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Extinction
Directed by – Ben Young
Screenplay by – Spenser Cohen, Eric Heisserer & Brad Kane
Music by – The Newton Brothers
Cinematography by – Pedro Luque
Edited by – Matthew Ramsey
Starring – Michael Peña, Lizzy Caplan, Mike Colter, Amelia Crouch, Erica Tremblay, Lex Shrapnel, Emma Booth, Lilly Aspell & Israel Broussard
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: na; Germany: na; New Zealand: na; United Kingdom: 15; United States: TV-MA