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Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Xtinction (2010)

"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.


The trouble with conveyor-belt made-for-TV films like Xtinction is that it appears no one really has any long-term vested interest in making the best film they can. From the main stars to the director to the guy standing by with the bottles of water - it's just a pay cheque to them. They know that in a few months another such film will come along and they'll get a steady pay cheque. It's hardly artistic, it's hardly pushing technology to the limit and its everything about filling a ninety-minute slot on a TV channel. Everything about Xtinction just seems lazy, half-assed and, ultimately, pointless. Also known as the slightly-more mysterious 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. What's worse is that it took four writers to come up with this script and they couldn't even find something a little pacier.

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 re-join 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 green and brown colours and tones get tiresome quickly. If only 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 - this works the same with a shark, a crocodile, hell even an octopus or piranha fish. 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 a swamp. I came to see what damage a prehistoric dinosaur could do 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 synopsis that is released.

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 atrocious and the dinosaur has been rendered with a stupid perma-grin on it's face, especially during the finale as it's about to be blown up. It's 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 as far as effects go.

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 in these low budget flicks 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.


Final Verdict

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!



Also Known As: Alligator X, Xtinction: Predator X

Director(s): Amir Valinia

Writer(s): George M. Kostuch (story), Cameron Larson (screenplay & (story), Caleb Michaelson (story), Claire Sanchez (story)

Actor(s): Lochlyn Munro, Mark Sheppard, Elena Lyons, Paul Wall, Caleb Michaelson, Rick Wayne

Duration: 90 mins


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