Early into “Extinction,” Lizzy Caplan’s character Alice reminds her husband Peter (Michael Pena) that their friends are coming over later. It feels odd that Alice is speaking about their social circle is such plain terms, rather than “Mark and Cindy, Bethany and Paul, Skylar if she can find a sitter, oh and Terrance might bring the sales girl he’s been seeing from T-Mobile” like most couples would. But this generic dialogue is one of the first indications that “Extinction lacks the flavor to make this sci-fi jaunt intriguing, the latest unwanted orange candy in Netflix’s starburst slate.
The film follows Peter as he has visions of some sort of alien attack or invasion. His increasing obsession with these supposed dreams causes a rift between his wife and poor performance at work. But it looks like Peter’s premonitions are realized when the aliens actually do attack, with Peter’s family scrambling about for safety. Dodging a cascade of poorly-animated bullets and taking cover from shoestring budget VFX, Peter and crew must survive while learning how to defeat their nefarious, otherworldly foes.
The premise itself is intriguing, but “Extinction” is so slow paced and mind-numbingly boring that it can’t capitalize on its sci-fi potential. It’d be one thing if the dialogue or characters were stupid, then we’d be able to get some joy in their poor performance, a guilty pleasure but a pleasure none-the-less. But with the film’s drab look and lack of a single person we’d want to have a conversation longer than five minutes with, “Extinction” fails to give any joy on a visual or emotional level.
It’s a shame, because “Extinction” is one of Pena’s few major leading roles, if not his very first, an opportunity to showcase his swelling leading man potential. The film takes all the things you enjoy about Pena, like his indelible penchant for quick-witted banter and sense of conviction that no Marvel villain can askew, and throws them into the garbage disposal in favor of a cookie cutter, devoted dad archetype. Even with a bold twist later in the film, the resulting revelation doesn’t reimburse us for the 90 minutes we’ve already wasted.