Jul 28, 2018
Welcome back to Streaming Saturday!
We’re back with another Netflix Original, this time an alien invasion thriller. Or is it? Like science fiction thrillers? Check out “Anon” (Episode #125), “The Titan” (Episode #090), “Mute” (Episode #055), “Tau” (Episode #181), and “The Cloverfield Paradox” (Episode #044) for a few other science-fiction Netflix Originals. And if you have a favorite alien invasion film, let us know at onemoviepunch.com.
Today’s movie is “Extinction” (2018), the Netflix Original science fiction thriller directed by Ben Young and written for the screen by Eric Heisserer, Spenser Cohen, and Brad Kane. The film follows Peter (Michael Peña), a family man who has recurring nightmares about death and destruction, which are beginning to affect his work and family life. After skipping an appointment for treatment, he is present at home with his family when an alien force invades bent on destruction, and in the process of fleeing for safety, learns truths about his life and about the lives of the invaders.
Spoilers ahead. I’m going to try not to spoil the film, so if you want to go in fresh, you can catch up with us tomorrow or after viewing it.
Ostensibly, the film is about Peter struggling with nightmares that seemingly predict the alien invasion, and their resistance to the invaders. I actually thought this premise was kinda hokey, some pseudo-scientific mystical power or a phenomenon caused by some Star Trek like science jargon, perhaps a little too close to religious. About two-thirds in, however, we get to know the identities of the invaders, and more about the history of Peter and his family, and the whole film shifts in tone. Suddenly, I was completely engaged and happily riding to the end of the film.
Films whose trailers engage in misdirection take a significant risk with their potential audience. I’ve seen it done masterfully, as in the trailers leading up to “Dark City”, but more often than not, I’ve seen it done in a way that falls flat or accidentally gives too much away, as in the case of “The Fate of the Furious” last year. But I’m happy to say that the trailer for “Extinction” does it masterfully, even if the overall film is only okay.
I say only okay, because there are some real problems with keeping and maintaining tension, especially in the second act when Peter’s family is fleeing from the invaders to a factory a few blocks away. It’s a pretty obvious trope to place children in danger to build tension, but this film explicitly does it more than a few times, making me hate the kids by the end for putting everyone, including themselves, in danger. The special effects and costumes are pretty good, with only a few noticeable issues. And the rest of the cast, including Lizzy Caplan, Mike Colter, Emma Booth, and Israel Broussard are good when the story permits it and underutilized when it doesn’t.
“Extinction” (2018) is a film with an awesome premise, a tight storyline, and decent execution that struggles with tension at times. It also underutilizes the underlying premise of the film, perhaps intentionally to keep the scope tight, or perhaps to score a second entry in a potential franchise. Fans of science-fiction films, particularly alien invasion films, will definitely enjoy this film, even if they notice its flaws.
Rotten Tomatoes: NR
One Movie Punch: 7.6/10
“Extinction” (2018) is rated TV-MA and is currently streaming on Netflix.