A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Extinction is a science fiction film that centers on invaders from space descending and wreaking havoc on a modern city. The tale is told through the eyes of one family -- a dad, a mom, and their two daughters -- who are in intense jeopardy throughout the movie. The violence is sustained and bloody and includes many scenes that show dead bodies strewn throughout the streets and buildings. There are massive explosions, buildings are set on fire and collapse, and the streets become the film's harrowing, unsafe ground zero. Weaponry includes knives, all manner of gunfire, point-blank hits; both invaders and citizens are killed. One leading character sustains severe injuries and is on the brink of death. A pattern emerges: The family seeks safety, finds it momentarily, then is besieged again. A few curse words are heard: "hell," "goddammit," and one use of "s--t." It's a tense, nonstop race to survive. Not for kids.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In EXTINCTION, Peter (Michael Pena), a hard-working family man, is having frequent nightmares about the future. He always wakes up terrified and frightened. His wife, Alice (Lizzy Caplan), and his two young daughters are upset and worried about him. His behavior has reached critical proportions at a party in the family's apartment, when Peter’s nightmares become reality. First, strange sounds, then the sky becomes alive with light. And finally, a horrific and terrifying assault from invaders from space. Gunfire and bombs shake the inhabitants. Buildings are leveled. Upright creatures on two legs appear en masse, attacking everywhere at once with all manner of weaponry. The family's apartment is under siege. Peter and Alice and the two girls barely escape discovery as they run from one hiding place to the next. Joining with some neighbors and co-workers, they attempt to reach the factory where Peter works. He's aware of an underground bunker that might save them. The panicked group must outwit and outrun their attackers through city streets, through tunnels, and finally, face off against them in a raging battle for survival.
Is it any good?
Despite the earnest efforts of the actors, decent low-budget effects, and escalating tension, this inventive movie loses its way simply because too many questions are raised that are left unanswered. In science fiction anything's possible, but in this violent, family-in-jeopardy-driven film, don't jump to any conclusions; nothing's as it seems. "Suspension of disbelief" is a pact that audiences make with storytellers. But that agreement requires that the audience be given enough rationale to make sense of the improbable (or even preposterous). It doesn't work here. And for many, the sustained brutal violence will be too much.
On the other hand, it's nice to see good actors like Michael Pena and Lizzy Caplan as leads, even in the one-dimensional roles they play in Extinction. The two young actresses who play their daughters have a thankless task, moving from terrified to scared to frightened out of their wits and back again.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Extinction. How do you feel about the frequency and brutality of it? Did it feel appropriate for the story the filmmakers were attempting to tell? The public is aware of the impact of violence on children, but what impact do you feel such violence has on teens and young adults?
This film has some surprises. Do you feel the twists were adequately explained as they were revealed, or were you confused? Do you think the filmmaking team is responsible for explaining everything? Why or why not? How much are you willing to imagine or work out for yourself?
In film and literary terms, what is a "character arc"? Who, if anyone, had a character arc in Extinction? How does such a device or element enrich a story?
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