If you needed any more proof Netflix is just putting out the trash even Hollywood doesn’t want in theaters, Extinction is a great (awful?) example.
Extinction’s development history sets the stage nicely.
Originally written back in 2013, it was included in that year’s Black List, a list of the best yet-unproduced movie scripts. After being swapped between directors and signed actors for a few years, it eventually ended up in the hands of Universal Pictures.
After production in 2018 however, it was shelved from Universal’s lineup schedule, before being quickly bought up by Netflix to release later in the year instead.
Was it all worth it?
It was not.
Extinction stars Michael Peña as Peter, a father plagued by visions of a world-ending alien invasion that he believes to be prophetic. But when the day comes, it’s up to him to use these visions to guide his wife, played by Lizzy Caplan, and his two insufferable daughters to safety.
The actual arc of the story is solid, and topped with a surprisingly effective twist, so it’s easy to see why the script was originally valued. But it’s the execution of these ideas that make Extinction so hard to watch.
The first act held promise. Peter’s frustration as he balances increasingly harmful apocalyptic visions with his own family turmoil had me thinking I’d be in for a slow-burn, psychological thriller. Sure, Peña looks confused the whole time and kind of sleepwalks through scenes, but it works for the character here as he tries to separate reality from dream.
The aesthetic of the world supported this as well, creating an almost dystopian near-future feeling, with washed out, joyless colours.
This all immediately falls apart when the aliens attack.
We’re then treated to a typical alien invasion film. One where Peña continues to sleepwalk through action set pieces, the bad CGI rips you right out any engaging experience you could be having, and his two annoyingly dumb daughters test the limits of your movie-watching patience.
It’s only the near-ending twist that gives the rest of the movie anything of substance. But with a curious opening and a fun ending, that still leaves us with 80% of the runtime bogged down by cliché, low budget shlock you’d see right at home on SyFy.
And no, I don’t feel bad for giving away that there is a twist here. If you’re not annoyed by the dumb character decisions and bargain bin action and effects, you’ll be falling asleep.
And I did. I did fall asleep halfway through, before grudgingly continuing the second half of the movie the next day. Maybe if I’d known there was some sort of cool conclusion to the whole thing, it would have given me the willpower to see it all through in one go at least.
I could go on about the PS2-era level effects, how Peña didn’t feel the need to ever have his character emote in any way, how bad the rubber suits for the aliens are, how I just wanted the kids to die so the movie didn’t have to stop to save them from peril every five minutes.
Or the fact that if you sat down and thought about the entire ramifications of everything the twist implies, none of it actually makes a bit of sense.
But I won’t. This movie isn’t worth it. It might be free to watch on Netflix, but Extinction is not worth your time. Avoid it.
Better yet, look up the synopsis. You’ll probably picture a better movie in your head.