Xtinction (2010)

Xtinction (2010) (aka Alligator X)

They said it was extinct. They were wrong.

When her father goes missing, divorcee Laura LeCrois returns home after a twenty year absence. She takes over the family business of providing boat tours of the Louisiana swamp in order to keep prospective realtors from snapping her father’s land. But she finds out that the swamp is now home to a terrifying prehistoric dinosaur which has been cloned and released into the swamp by an unscrupulous scientist who is trying to get it to adapt to both fresh water and salt water.

 

Though it premiered straight on their network, Xtinction is a Sci-Fi Channel Original in all but the fact that it wasn’t made by them. With a plot lifted out of the basement book of monster movies, a budget which matches the pittance that Sci-Fi usually gave their films (about $2.5 million I read) and about as much originality as a piece of blank paper, Xtinction promises nothing and delivers the same. You know I wish Sci-Fi had made this made mess because at least then it would have some sort of excuse in that it’s just another one off the production line. The fact that someone else made this just shows you how miniscule the effort needed to make this type of film really is. Give me $2.5 million and I’ll do a better job! Perhaps the standards set by the Sci-Fi Channel are now so low that anyone with a camera and a CGI monster can make something which fits right at home with their output over the past few years.

The trouble with conveyor-belt films like this is that no one cares. From the main stars to the director to the guy standing by with the bottles of the water – it’s just a pay cheque to them. They know that in another few months another such film will come along. Everything about Xtinction just seems lazy, half-assed and, ultimately, pointless. Also known as the slightly-better Alligator X, the film runs like clockwork…..but it’s a clock which needs winding up. One of the first things you’ll notice whilst watching is how slowly everything drags. Characters don’t seem to be in much of a hurry. The film just shuffles along aimlessly.

You’ll spend more time predicting what is going to happen with a whole barrage of creature feature clichés. Opening attack sequence – check. Stock characters with history with each other – check. Local authority figure – check. A couple of dim-witted backwoods hunters – check. Slimy, discredited scientist – check. A handful of pointless secondary characters ready to be monster chow – check. Said monster, feebly rendered in CGI – check. Slew of unexciting, overly predictable and ultimately shallow attack scenes – check. I could keep rolling with this all day long. Xtinction shows no ambition, no attempt to do anything different and adheres to the play-by-play book almost word for word. It’s the sort of film you can put on in the background whilst you do something else and rejoin it at a later point without missing a beat. Even the look of the film is very dreary and soulless- surely the cinematographer could have put some life into the picture. Whilst it does give the swamp more of a dangerous and intimidating atmosphere, the same colours and tones get tiresome quickly. You wish the sun would just come out and brighten everything up.

The monster is typical of modern day CGI creature features. I’m sure it sounded interesting on paper but such is the nature of the film, you could easily exchange it for a similar aquatic menace without making any major alterations to the narrative. The monster plays second fiddle to the trio of human villains for a great deal of the running time like the majority of these low budget films. I came to see a prehistoric dinosaur killing people in an American swamp. I came to see what damage a prehistoric dinosaur could day in a modern day environment. I didn’t come to see some twisted backwoods goons menace the main characters instead. It’s a cop out – understandable from a budget perspective – but I wish they’d write more of this human drama into any plot summaries.

I’m sure that the back of the DVD or the ad in the TV magazine failed to mention that the rednecks seem to do more damage than the monster. They get more screen time anyway. It’s maybe for the best as I lost track of the same shot of the monster being re-used time and time again. The CGI is rubbish and the dinosaur has some stupid grin on it’s face, especially during the finale as it’s about to be blown up. It’s also got an uncanny ability to snatch people off boats without so much as damaging the craft in the slightest. Human-monster interaction is not the film’s strongest point. Cast wise, the film serves it’s purpose though you could have Al Pacino and Meryl Streep in the lead roles and the result would still be the same. Mark Sheppard has played villains plenty of times before so it’s not a big stretch to get him to play another. The same goes for Lochlyn Munro as the local sheriff – he’s played this role a few times as well. The only cast member with any ounce of energy is Elena Lyons but the role hardly requires the performance of a lifetime.

 

Sometimes I get sick of flogging a dead horse with these creature features reviews and I tend to just moan on about how unoriginal and derivative they are. Well as long as people are making trash like Xtinction, I’ll continue to make my voice heard. If they can keep producing conveyor belt creature features, I can keep on doing conveyor belt reviews. And rest assured, my reviews don’t cost $2.5 million a pop to do!

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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