By Dave B.
I’ve been disappointed in most of Netflix’s science fiction movies and tv shows. Most of them follow an identical pattern: a promising premise, followed by a slow and generic story arc, and culminating in an absolutely terrible and predictable ending. I’ll give Extinction (Netflix) this much: for better or worse, it breaks the typical Netflix sci-fi mold. The movie begins with Peter (Michael Peña) having a nightmare about an alien invasion. We find out that this nightmare has been recurring for some time and is negatively impacting his work, as well his relationship with his wife (Lizzy Caplan) and his two daughters. Lo and behold, despite his wife insisting that he receive psychological treatment for his dreams, an alien invasion does occur, setting the stage for Peter to do whatever he must to get his family to safety.
In many ways, Extinction is as disappointing as most Netflix sci-fi movies. The characters aren’t very compelling and considering the high talent level of the cast, there weren’t any especially strong performances. I don’t blame the actors themselves for this. The writers just weren’t on their A-game when it came to character development and making audiences give a crap about the characters. And one of the daughters is the most annoying child character that has been in a movie in generations. She single-handedly almost made me hate this movie. To top off all of the negatives, the special effects couldn’t have been more pedestrian. If you can’t do decent CGI nowadays, you’re putting in literally zero effort. However, there are two elements to this film that distinguish this from most of Netflix’s standard trash science fiction.
The first positive element is that the movie gets stronger as it progresses instead of unimaginably worse. Yes, the movie relies on almost everyone making ridiculous, terrible, or unbelievable decisions in order to advance the plot, but once the movie becomes more of an action movie instead of a thriller, the terrible decision-making (which is another example of poor writing) becomes less relevant as there are fewer decisions that actually need to be made. The second (and best) positive element in Extinction is the twist. It was actually original, believable, appropriate, enjoyable, and well-executed.
Without the twist, Extinction would be another in a long line of Netflix mediocrity (at best) in the sci-fi genre. In fact, it’s the sole reason that I’m recommending this movie. Yes, I think this one twist is good enough to suggest viewers sit through a mediocre 95 minute film (I can barely believe it myself). Extinction isn’t a good movie. But hopefully it’s a step in the right direction of better things to come from Netflix.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.