Early Screener Review: Extinction (2015)


Deep in the Amazon jungle a research team lead by a respected Professor strive to protect vulnerable and endangered species, but when their guides abandon them they soon realize they are in the hunting ground of prehistoric apex predators.

REVIEW: Those that are familiar with my review work know how much I love Found Footage flicks, in addition to how much I love dinosaur flicks, so suffice to say I was pretty excited when a screener copy of this new dinosaur-themed Found Footage flick fell into my lap for early review. Some of these, like Area 407, are absolute crap while others, like The Dinosaur Project, actually turn out pretty fun and decent. So where does Extinction, aka Extinction: Jurassic Predators, fall in that list? Sadly, while there's some stuff to enjoy here, it probably should have just stayed extinct.


One of the biggest faults of Extinction I feel, is that it just goes on for way too long. B-Movies should be kept short and sweet. Longer runtimes are great for big budget theatrical epics, but for movies like this, they're best kept on the shorter side. No matter how much I can overlook crappy acting and questionable effects, even I get sick of them when they begin to overstay their welcome, and there was just no need for this movie to be fifteen minutes shy of two hours. Especially when you factor in that there was so much of this movie that could have been tightened up a bit and trimmed here and there.

With that said, most of the movie was also already an unintelligible mess, even without further cuts. It just hops around from scene to scene, and cuts from scene to scene so quickly that it's impossible to really know what's going on and why it's happening half the time. I'd say the average scene lasts about 30-60 seconds before jarringly cutting to the next 30-60 second scene. Putting aside the fact that it makes the entire movie difficult to follow, due to this there's also no build up or suspense to most of the scenes where things actually happen, because we'll just quickly cut from the middle of a conversation or some such mundane scene during the day, right into the middle of their camp being attacked that night. Then while mid-attack is still going on, we'll cut back away from that and suddenly to them wandering through the jungle the next afternoon and talking about the night before.

This kind of quick cutting and jumping around aimlessly, with no narrative, plagues pretty much the entire movie and ruins any attempt at suspense. Not to mention it just makes a giant mess of the entire movie, making most of it impossible to follow and difficult to get any sort of characterization to come across from our main cast. For instance, it's about 45 minutes in before we even really find out what the initial goal is of this group of people and exactly why they're in the Amazon and filming to begin with. Even Area 407, as much of a mess as it was, had way better characterization than this movie.


It also doesn't help that I found that I didn't really want to know these characters. They're pretty much all badly-acted, to a groan-inducing level, and things were made even worse by what can only be described as the most annoying and whiny cameraman in a Found Footage movie, ever. The dude would never just shut the fuck up or stop doing the most atrociously stupid shit you can think of. The only real mystery in this movie is not how dinosaurs can still be alive, but instead how this annoying idiot managed to survive until the end of the movie. Oh, and another reason to want this guy dead in the movie? For a professional camera man, he really couldn't keep the camera steady at all. It was overly shaky and brought about the most sever case of motion sickness that I've felt in a Found Footage movie to date, rivaled only by maybe my theatrical viewing of Cloverfield. However, the main female lead was really easy on the eyes and she was constantly wearing tight tank tops throughout the entire movie, so at least there was some good eye candy here, if nothing else.

What annoys me most out of all this though, is there this movie actually had some great potential. Unlike Area 407 which was pretty much mostly unforgivable shit through and through, this movie did have some redeemable qualities and there were hints of a actual genuinely good movie under the surface if just a little more care was given in some aspects. For instance, while it may have been almost an hour in to the movie until we actually see the dinosaur that's been stalking them, I was actually ok with that as, due to the over-long runtime, we still get a good solid 45 minutes after that point that's filled with lots of good long looks at the dinosaur, plus leading up to that point we got lots of frightening roars, growls, and an admittedly-pretty awesome and creepy night time tent scene, so even before it showed up on-screen in the flesh, it wasn't entirely absent from the movie. Plus I loved the jungle scenery (a bit more on that soon) so I was actually really liking just watching the characters trek through it all. When the dinosaur in this movie does show up though, and we get tons of great long-lasting looks at it, we get to see pretty quickly that it's surprisingly done with practical animatronic effects as opposed to the much-more common badly-integrated CG effects that's in most B-Movies these days. I'm always saying that practical effects are not always better than CGI, and that I'd rather take good CGI over bad practical any day of the week, plus you can do so much more with CGI, however the dinosaur animatronic looked really good here, so I was pretty impressed with it most of the time. Although with that said, there were some points while it was moving around that it didn't come across as too convincing, as its motions were really unnatural and fake, and during these moments, more often than not, it just looked like it was a borrowed prop from the Walking with Dinosaurs Live Stage Show.


As mentioned above, I actually really enjoyed the scenes that were simply the characters wandering through the jungle. The scenery here was great, and provided a lovely visual treat, as jungles are one of my top favourite movie settings, and unlike most B-Movies that just get some random backyard forest to stand in as a jungle, this place that they filmed in actually is a real jungle. I'm not sure exactly where this movie was shot, but wherever it was it was damn convincing as the Amazon, and it looked nothing short of beautiful. That, mixed with the fun use of an actual animatronic dinosaur, and the fact that the leading lady was easy on the eyes and always in tight tank tops, at least made this movie a very pleasant experience, visually, despite all the issues I have with it as a whole.

It's just such a bummer that everything else on display in Extinction didn't deliver as well. The impossible-to-follow narrative, bad acting, annoying characters, and terrible camera motions are all bad enough as it is, in any movie, but the fact that this one goes on for way too long only leads to showcasing these issues even further as due to the movie's length they're on display even longer than they usually would be. There is potential for a pretty decent movie somewhere in here, it's just, unfortunately, not this specific cut that we got.

If you'd still like to check out Extinction (or Extinction: Jurassic Predators as it's called in some places of the world) and decide for yourself how you feel about it, you'll be able to check this one out via VOD services such as Itunes starting on June 2nd.

4/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward



Comments

  1. Well damn! I was looking forward to this, sad to hear it isn't any good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well still check it out for yourself when you can anyway, you might enjoy it more than I did, and like I said it's not totally unredeemable, there IS some stuff in there to make parts of it enjoyable.

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  2. There is a chance you're qualified for a free $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

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