Stop me if you’ve heard this one, an expedition into the deepest parts of the jungle find a lost world where time has stood still and creatures once thought extinct still roam free and dangerous. Brings to mind films like King Kong, The Lost World and a host of enjoyably cheesy 50’s B movies doesn’t it? More to the point, does it live up to them?
Originally filmed and announced as The Expedition, Extinction’s story is basic and simple, an expedition heads into the wilds of Peru in search of rumored undiscovered species of animals and finds much more than they bargained for. And that really is all there is to it. The first hour is composed of the party getting to the jungle and endlessly squabbling with each other while the cameraman captures it all for the record. Yes it’s all being filmed and this is another “found footage” film, The Blair Dinosaur Project if you will.
The film gets off to an incredibly slow start, the entire first hour, (the film runs a too long 107 minutes), is used to introduce the various members of the expedition and get them into the deepest Amazon. Unfortunately, these are some of the least likeable characters I’ve seen in a long time, listening to them whine, complain and ague gets very old very fast. The cameraman is a raging jerk, the producer is a bimbo who strolls through a jungle full of disease carrying bugs in a sleeveless top designed to show off her implants, etc. By the time the dinosaurs show up you’ll be ready to see them all get eaten.
Maybe because it is so dull the film’s many problems are more noticeable than usual. Apart from the previously mentioned wardrobe issues there’s the fact nobody seems to have brought a flashlight, a supposedly experienced cameraman brings a camera that doesn’t do night vision, they never think to set up their still cameras to try to get pictures of whatever is out in the darkness and why they aren’t seeing any traces of the giant creature they keep hearing. But the worst problem is despite being set in the Amazon it was obviously filmed in the woods somewhere in the UK. It doesn’t look anywhere near a tropical rainforest and made it hard to get into the film at all.
Once the creatures finally show up things do get a bit better and the pace picks up as the expedition races back to where they left their SUV to try and escape. Of course given the genre this means a lot more headache inducing shaky camera work too. It also means we finally get to see the dinosaurs and they are something of a mixed bag. On the one hand it’s great to see somebody using practical effects instead of the typically horrible low end CGI these films usually feature. CGI certainly has it’s place and can be very effective when there’s a big enough budget to do it right, these films rarely have the budget or skill to pull it off. However Extinction features animatronic dinosaurs that look like they wandered in from a children’s stage show or the local museum. They could actually have used some CGI touch ups to help cover their stiff, unconvincing movements and non expressive faces.
I really hate to trash a movie especially one done on a low budget but there really isn’t anything in this film to recommend. The script is weak and riddled with glaring mistakes, the characters unlikable and the effects lacking, (though still better than a lot of CGI fests). This is one to stay away from unless it’s on NetFlix and you’re desperate for dinosaurs.