Friday, September 20, 2019

How It Ends (2018)

Movie Name/Year: How It Ends (2018)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Length: 113 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Paul Schiff Productions, Sierra / Affinity, Netflix
Director: David M. Rosenthal
Writer: Brooks McLaren
Actors: Theo James, Forest Whitaker, Katerina Graham, Kerry Bishé, Mark O'Brien, Nancy Sorel, Eric Keenleyside, Grace Dove

Blurb from IMDb: A a desperate man tries to return home to his pregnant fiancee after a mysterious apocalyptic event turns everything to chaos.

Selina’s Point of View:
Apocalyptic movies are part of my bread and butter. I don’t know why I’m so drawn to them, but I very much am. So, I got excited about our movie this week.

How it Ends is a Netflix original, so I had no expectations one way or the other. Some of them are very, very good. Others are awful. There’s no real consistency from film to film. That’s the thing about turning out so much new content so often. There’s no way they could hit it out of the park every time – but they’re not going to be known as the next Asylum production company, either.

I’m left with some conflict on how I feel about this one.

On one hand, I love that I wasn’t punched in the head with exposition right out of the gate. Brooks McLaren (Rambo: New Blood, XOXO, Nightingale), the writer, allowed there to be some intrigue and guidance without spelling everything out for me like I’m an idiot. As a result, there’s some dialogue that’s unusual for a movie, but very natural for real life. They also managed to divert expectations in several interactions. It was impressive.

The problem with making everything feel a little more natural is that the ‘fantastic’ that normally weaves itself through a film like this was absent some of the time.

It was never hard to watch, but I did wind up with some questions I don’t think I was supposed to have. I’m not including the stuff you’re supposed to wonder about, but other things. It didn’t equal out to huge plot holes, but there were smaller ones that kind of added up in the end.

The acting was good. Theo James (Castlevania, Divergent, Golden Boy) and Forest Whitaker (Burden, Arrival, Out of the Furnace) are both great at what they do. I expected nothing less. Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Poison Rose) is also amazing, but she wasn’t in much of the flick. I would have liked to see more of her.

When all is said and done, I did enjoy How it Ends, but I don’t think it was one of Netflix’s best. 

Cat’s Point of View:
Overall, I didn’t mind How It Ends. I can’t say that it’s my favorite Netflix original, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. The film’s name is a little ironic, really, but I’ll get into that in a minute.

I was initially drawn to this movie via the trifecta of actors that I really enjoy – namely, Kat Graham (17 Again, Addicted, All Eyez on Me), Forest Whitaker (Arrival, Sorry To Bother You, Finding Steve McQueen), and Theo James (Underworld Awakening, The Secret Scripture, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance). I’ve generally liked most of their collective work, and can count on solid performances from them. I had no disappointments from their respective roles. I might wish for a little more screen-time from Graham, but I understand that since the tale was being told from William’s perspective, that meant that we would only ever know what he knew and his fiancee's well-being was a pivotal point of the suspense in the plot.

Stories about the ‘end of the world,’ disasters, and apocalyptic events are always intriguing to me. I find the ideas that writers come up with fascinating. The best ones play off of an entirely plausible scenario, making the concept even more chilling. When supernatural means are involved, it has to be extremely well executed to allow the suspense of disbelief. Sci-fi and fantasy are my favorite genres, though, so flights into the fantastical are quite welcome.

With this film, the disaster that plays out seems as believable as it is enigmatic. I really liked the fact that the narrative wasn’t cluttered with too much detail, and the puzzle pieces to put the bigger picture together were doled out with subtlety. I’m OK with how this plays out and even all of the unanswered questions surrounding what was – or wasn’t – going on.

I just didn’t like the ending. There were both good and bad notes for how the final scene plays out, but it mostly left me hanging uncomfortably. The movie had me hooked right up until the credits began to roll, and I felt it a bit like a slap in the face that it was over. I had a moment asking myself “That’s all? They’re leaving it there???”

If put on the spot, I wouldn’t steer anyone away from the film, but I don’t think I’d go out of my way to endorse or recommend it all the same. If not for that ending, I’d likely give it a higher score. As it stands, I would say this falls in the high-end of the middle where the quality of Netflix originals is concerned. There are some that are exceedingly better but there are others that, quite frankly, reek. This one is just good – and OK.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 19%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 17%
Metascore – 35/100
Metacritic User Score – 4.4/10
IMDB Score – 5.0/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3/5

Movie Trailer:

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