(SPOILERS AHEAD. You’ve been warned) If you’ve been paying attention to Netflix you’ve notice the streaming service has released a lot of originals over the past year and a half. Quite a number of these original series and movies have been either dystopian (Altered Carbon) or apocalyptic (Cargo, The Rain) in nature. Netflix’s newest outing into the apocalypse How It Ends is another trip into the apocalypse.
With a few exceptions, The Walking Dead comes to mind, entries in this genre want to explain what happened, how it happened, and what lead to the end. How It Ends is slightly different from other movies in the genre. There’s a broken transmission over a radio asking if World War III had broken out and near the end of the movie Jeremiah (Mark O’Brien) puts forth the theory everything happening is a conspiracy put in motion by the government, but for the most part director David Rosenthal (A Single Shot) and screenwriter Brooks McLaren are content with letting the movie play out leaving the audience to wonder what exactly is going on in the world.
Things fall apart rather quickly after the opening credits end. There’s enough time to introduce characters Will Younger (Theo James, Divergent), his pregnant girlfriend Samantha Sutherland (Kat Graham, The Vampire Diaries) and her overbearing retired military father Tom (Forest Whitaker, Black Panther). After that Tom and and Will set out on a cross country road trip to save Samantha who’s trapped in Seattle. The “road trip” is what makes the movie work.
Like all the better road trip movies the two main characters learn a lot about each other over the course of their trip. Unlike your traditional road trip movie the characters don’t bond over old times or drinks, they bond over staying alive in an America that is being shattered by freak storms, erupting volcanoes, and violent highwaymen trying to take everything they have including their lives.
How It Ends constantly reminds us how bad people have gotten since the end started. We’re bombarded with scene after scene of the wicked depths people have stooped to at the end of the world. Sometimes character development takes a back seat in these types of movies. However, these scenes serve to show how Will changes from the first time we meet to the end of the movie.
Road trip movies are often more about the supporting characters and the affect they have on the main characters. Would Harry and Tonto have been as much fun without all the characters the two meet while on the road? As much as the Man and the Boy in The Road try to avoid people the people they meet ultimately affect the Boy’s outlook on the world he lives in.
Although it feels like the character of Ricki (Grace Dove, The Revenant) was forced into the story (Who leaves home with two strangers while the world is ending? ) she serves much the same purpose as other characters in road trip movies. Ricki comes into Will and Tom’s life and changes Will’s attitude towards the situation they have all found themselves in. Ricki’s view of the world is in direct conflict of the military minded Tom.
How It Ends is about fifteen minutes longer than it needed to be. Did we need more evidence of how Will changed from the beginning of the movie to the end? Did we need more examples of how people turn rotten when the end is near? It was made painfully clear during their first stop to get gas humanity was taking a turn for the worse. The introduction of Jeremiah, the jealous neighbor who helped save Samantha, seemed forced into the end. Like the fact that we knew Samantha was alive we knew Jeremiah was going to try and kill Will.
Overall, How it Ends is an entertaining movie. The movie didn’t stumble and kept a brisk pace. It’s enough to keep the viewer entertained. At the very least the last scene is truly a brilliant piece of CGI.