Extinction review “A B-movie with blockbuster arrogance”

Extinction movie posterScience fiction movies have often toyed with the idea of the decimation of the human race. Whether it be through an alien invasion, robots or through our own doing – there is no denying that it makes great entertainment. Netflix’s latest release, Extinction, ticks all the boxes of your usual science fiction movie: is it, however, worth a watch?

Extinction follows Peter (Michael Peña), who keeps having recurring dreams regarding the mass murder of his people. His wife, Alice (Lizzy Caplan), believes he is going crazy, until the events in real life line up with events in his dreams. Together, Peter and Alice try to save their two daughters from being killed, as well as saving their own skins.

It sounds like a fairly innocuous and inoffensive idea. It’s likely that not much could go wrong with this movie, providing two elements are up to scratch: the writing and the acting. Unbelievably – neither of these elements were.

Let’s tackle the writing first. It has been a long time since I have watched a movie with as shoddy writing as Extinction. There was not one scene that had a discrepancy, or an unnecessary action, as though all three writers didn’t read what had been written before, and just carried on as normal.

Michael Pena in Extinction

© Netflix

It is sporadically incoherent, at times leaning towards the overworked and boring. No-one needs that much of the plot explained to them; although, the removal of unneeded explanation removes about half of the script.

What made things worse is that this movie is just boring. There were multiple times I dropped off, which resulted in either a hasty explanation from a fellow viewer, or a sneaky rewind. Movies that can’t hold the attention of an audience for 90 minutes, don’t bode well as far as their success goes.

Now, lets address the knock on effect of bad writing: bad acting. Never in my life have I seen such robotic acting (which, does kind of work towards the favour of the plot by the end) from two actors who are generally regarded as fairly talented. Michael Peña and Lizzy Caplan have been in multiple blockbuster and critically acclaimed movies, earning themselves a a reputation for being good actors.

This reputation goes completely out the window with this movie. In Extinction, they can barely carry a two sentence line without putting the audience to sleep. This movie is like an amateur dramatics group accidentally got mistaken for the cast of a blockbuster – and the difference was completely noticeable. Especially considering that Peña and Caplan carry pretty much the entire movie, good acting was a necessity for the success of Extinction.

The actual idea for the plot of Extinction, however, is pretty good. It throws you off the sent through standard science fiction tropes, and has a fairly surprising twist. What is a shame is that the twist is overshadowed by the fact that it’s not exactly clear what is going on at any given time.

This movie is weird in the fact that obvious things are explained to within an inch of their lives, and ambiguous things are left as though you’re meant to know what has gone on. In some ways, it’s nice to make up your own mind – in others, it would just be nice to be able to watch a mediocre sci-fi movie without the struggle of self-interpretation.

Netflix often have trouble with sci-fi movies, as shown with other new release, How It Ends. Maybe, this is a sign that Netflix should stop making science fiction movies that are badly written, and focus more on the content that they are producing in general.

It’s not often that I really don’t enjoy a movie. It takes a lot for me to give up all hope on a film – especially one that I was looking forward to watching. However, it also takes a lot for a run of the mill, formulaic movie like Extinction to be as badly executed as it has been. But a B-movie with an arrogant, blockbuster attitude, is never a step in the right direction. Only watch this movie if you fancy being out like a light within 45 minutes.

:star: ½

2 thoughts on “Extinction review “A B-movie with blockbuster arrogance”

  1. Good review. I thought it was a little better than you give it credit for, considering it was a Netflix film. My standards are typically lower for those. But an interesting point was that Peña actually said, in an interview, that the emotionless and stiff acting was done purposefully. I agree that it doesn’t do much for the viewer the first go round, but might be interesting given the context of the full movie on a second watch (if I can muster that). Overall though it still felt like wasted acting talent.

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