FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Tonight I saw “Extinction” (2015) which stars Matthew Fox (Lost [TV series], Party of Five [TV series]), Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice [TV series], Hitch), Quinn McColgan (Non-Stop, Wishin’ and Hopin’), Valeria Vereau (Salting the Battlefield [TV movie], Volver), and Clara Lago (Spanish Affair, Carol’s Journey). It is directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas (Reflections, Kidnapped ). Set in a snow-laden, post-apocalyptic world that was ravaged by infected human beings, this story follows a man named Jack (Donovan), his daughter Lu (McColgan), and Jack’s estranged friend Patrick (Fox). Events have set Jack and Patrick apart for many years, and after nine years since a big massacre they had to deal with, endangering Lu when she was a baby, they are still separated. Unfortunately, Patrick realizes that the monsters they thought died in the cold have actually survived, prompting him and Jack to join forces and put aside their differences after past events.
It may sound weird, but ever since I found out about this movie, I have been anticipating to see it. No, I didn’t list it on my watch list, mainly because it wasn’t on the top of the charts, but it was still wanted. The reason? Matthew Fox. I’ve stated before on this site and I will say it again: “Lost” is my favorite TV series of all time and I believe that it is the best show to ever grace television. Matthew Fox is the main, main (there were a lot of main characters) character of that show, playing Dr. Jack Shephard. Ever since “Lost” ended, I have rarely seen him in anything. The only film I reviewed with him in it is the television-to-movie “Speed Racer,” and he had a very minuscule role in it in terms of showing his face. So yeah, when I found out that he is a main star in this flick I wanted to view it as soon as possible because viewing a movie that has an actor/actress that you respect or has been in a show/film you love, you want to follow their career (at least I do). I wasn’t expecting a grand venture, but I wasn’t expecting garbage either. What did I get? Well, something in the middle. The point that this film tries to make is how, even in a world where survival is key, you should still try to “live a little” as well as put past differences aside. Yes, I understood the theme, but that doesn’t mean that is was well-accomplished. There were several things that hindered this movie from being something unique, and the first I will write about is its originality. The more I delved into this film, the more I realized that it has taken off of quite a bit of movies. One that comes to mind is “I Am Legend.” It takes a lot from that, but I won’t explain what for it will spoil the plot. Don’t worry, it’s not to the point of frustration, but it is noticeable. I wanted to like this movie and it has some aspects that I do like, mainly Matthew Fox, but overall it is a rather mediocre release. In terms of directing/cinematography, it is like a seesaw. There were things about the cinematography that I enjoyed and then there were some that were cheap. From a directing standpoint, there are some vantage points that are rather great. One scene involves Patrick shooting and killing a horse. When he walks up to it to stab it, the camera cuts to the horse’s body, which is the subject in focus. You see Patrick’s hand reach out of the blurred out background into the sharpness of view to lay its hand on the horse’s body. It was a notable shot. There are quite a bit like that, but then you have the knockoff cinematography. What I mean by that is in terms of a movie that isn’t made for the masses or directed by a well-defined director (like Wes Anderson and Steven Spielberg), then you have a directing style that is used by a lot of directors who work in lesser-known releases. What is included in this directing style? Well, you have lens-flares (no offense, J.J. Abrams), your blurred out backgrounds (almost every shot has them that don’t work at times), and your overly polished editing. Everything doesn’t have a gritty substance to it that the story deserves. The editing of the color scheme and changing of backgrounds can make it feel like I’m watching a Lifetime movie. If they just edited the picture quality less, then it would’ve made it more dirty, which is a great thing compared to the noticeable face-lift it was given. Off the topic of editing, the acting was okay. Some performances are good, while others are mediocre. Jeffrey Donovan is good in terms of his relationship of his daughter, but on his own in arguments, some of his facial expressions seem overly exaggerated and forced. He isn’t that believable. Quinn McColgan is an alright actress for a kid. Matthew Fox did the best job out of all of them and stole the show, with his character providing more essence to this story than the others. Which brings me to the characters. I believe that there could have been so much more done, mainly with this story’s focus. Patrick is the real main character of this story because he is the only one with a background, but for some reason the writers draw you away from him to focus on Jack and Lu, who basically do the same thing every time you see them. Lu wants to do something beyond Jack’s rules and he gets upset. It gets old really fast. With Patrick, you actually get to connect with him and his dilemma. I wanted to know more about him, but every step they took towards Patrick, they took ten steps back to Jack. I couldn’t tell who has the main character at that point because Patrick was an obvious choice, but they always put the spotlight on Jack who provided me with nothing of a figure. It took forever to figure out Patrick’s story as well. The movie is almost two hours long, but the time could’ve been cut down to an hour and twenty minutes because most of the movie involves them just going about their day. I love and crave character development, but when you have two characters that go nowhere in developing, what’s the point? Patrick was the only character I was interested in, and I will say that he was a great character. Then towards the end, they throw in this random girl only used to propel the characters towards the ending, so she was useless. All this talk may make you think I hate this film, but I don’t necessarily. I’m not saying it’s good, but it’s also not complete garbage. There are some aspects I enjoy and there is some substance to the plot even though a good chunk leads to nowhere. I think Patrick’s insanity is the most intriguing, but I wish they unfolded his background faster so they could also introduce more about him. Besides the cons I blended with pros throughout this review, I only have two more issues. The first is the action scenes. Half of them are directed in a good fashion, but the other half is hazy. The beginning has to do with an action scene. They provide a lot of build up, even though it is predictable (which is another con that I haven’t listed, though not everything is predictable), but once they get to the actual action, in comes the shaky camera. I couldn’t tell what was going on. I saw a few heads, maybe a zombie, and then darkness to light. I don’t understand why the director thinks we can comprehend this. Speaking of the zombies, the CGI can be shoddy. I don’t know what budget they were on, but it must’ve not been enough because it wasn’t the best. Finally, the last con is the fact that some things just don’t make sense. They contradict things they write in the script quite a bit. One example I will give is the fact that the zombies can’t see anything, they can only hear. When Lu was in a basement trapped with one of the zombies, the floor was a pool of water because of leaks. For some reason, when she was stepping in the water, creating noise, to move away from the zombie “stealthily,” the zombie didn’t hear her. Not her breathing nor her footsteps. It took her to knock over an object for it to actually know where she was. I stated before that some things didn’t frustrate me, but things like these do. If you are going to write a specific rule in a script, stick to it. In the end, films featuring zombies is an art form well past its expiration date. I’m not fond of it anymore. This film was servable in terms of entertainment, but the story falls short and it often leads to nowhere until the climax and Patrick’s scenes. Matthew Fox couldn’t save this movie, but he sure brought up some points. It was good to see him back in the field. If you want to see this flick, fine. It’s not awful, but it isn’t juicy either. FINAL SCORE: 63%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: