Often pretty to look at, How It Ends is a long journey with no real destination.
by Dan Brenic
How It Ends initially caught my eye with its trailer, featuring some gorgeous shots and relatively simple plot. Some event happens on the west coast of the United States that causes a country-wide shut down of systems. Our story follows Will (Theo James) and Tom(Forrest Whitaker) as they attempt to make a trek cross-country from Chicago to Seattle to make sure that Sam(Kat Graham), Will's girlfriend and Tom's daughter, is safe amidst all of the chaos.
From a cinematography perspective, How It Ends can be impressive. Beautiful scapes are lined in between destruction country-wide, and it's truly breathtaking at times. Other times it feels fairly standard due to the scripting of scenes, mostly done at night. Few visual effects aren't practical in the movie, which is generally a good thing, but when the CGI comes into play, you can clearly tell what it is.
The acting is decent and could be praised considering that the script doesn't allow the actors to really sink their teeth into their roles. Will is as dull of a character as you'll see this year. He's supposed to be the vehicle in which we see these events occur and he feels more like a silent protagonist you'd find in a video game than you'd see a character in a movie. Tom is your classic and overplayed overbearing father figure in the movie, someone who is very protective of his daughter and for some reason, finds Will to be someone to be suspicious of, despite that he's a budding attorney. Will and Tom's relationship is tenuous at best, as is shown at the beginning of the movie when they get into an argument over seemingly rehashed issues. But these issues aren't brought up again as issues and it harms the characters and has the movie lose a dynamic that would have been effective.
The plot of the movie requires its characters to make baffling decisions to advance. After 'The Event' occurs, Will and Tom, fresh on their journey to save Sam, are pulled over by a police vehicle, and Will steps out of the car to "Check it out." Cars are overturned, people crying for help on the side of the road, all of these are reasons why the group stops their vehicle, putting themselves in danger for inexplicable reasons. What should be points of stress on Will and Tom are quickly brushed aside to get to the next scene where some other side of humanity is seen on their journey. The writers clearly had too many ideas for little vignettes of how society has become that they couldn't expound upon them in a meaningful way for the movie to hit a reasonable run time. The ending of the movie highlights this to a great degree. Instead of letting the tension build, there's a rushed conclusion to the movie and leaves everything feel hollow.
I never had any delusions when it came to How It Ends. I knew that the movie would be standard fare and at least pretty to look at. However, once I had finished, I discovered instead that it was a stupid movie that was pretty to look at.