ANNIHILATION – Rated R – 1 hr. 55 mins.
Director/Written for the screen by: Alex Garland
Based on the Novel by: Jeff VanderMeer
Fear What’s Inside
Alex Garland’s second directorial effort, “Annihilation”, comes-off the immensely successful “Ex Machina”; which took the World by storm back in 2014. The film opens as our main character, Lena (Natalie Portman), is being-questioned by a scientist in full protective gear named Lomax (Benedict Wong). Left with many questions, we flashback to Lena working as a biologist and college professor. As we quickly discover, she has not seen her husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac) in over a year and is working to move-on as she expects him to have been KIA. Unsuspectingly, her husband arrives home but his clearly shaken and sick; as he starts bleeding from his mouth. While being transported by an ambulance, Government vehicles swarm the ambulance and hijack Kane and Lena. Lena awakens in an unknown location, being questioned by a psychologist named Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Left with nothing but unanswered questions, Lena was about to be left with even more; as she learns about The Shimmer.
The Shimmer has been active for over 4 years now, with still no answers. A multi-colored coating that began at the lighthouse near the ocean that is slowly expanding; showing no signs of slowing until it covers the globe. Crews and objects go-into The Shimmer, but not one single thing has come back. That is, until Kane. With the hopes to understand The Shimmer, another expedition is about to take part. With the hopes of saving her husband, Lena volunteers to join Dr. Ventress. Alongside them, Anya Thorensen (Gina Rodriguez), Cass Sheppard (Tuva Novotny), and Josie Radek (Tessa Thompson) venture-into The Shimmer. They awaken, confused and disoriented, and quickly realize that more time has passed than they realize; as they encounter spectacular, impossible creations. The rest of the film follows their mission though the unknown as they attempt to find answers.
“Annihilation”, adapted from the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer, has given us an incredibly-beautiful and visceral World to enjoy and devour. Mysterious, ominous, and radiant, The Shimmer is one of those rare creations that are as visually-stunning as they are interesting. Garland, as we should expect after “Ex Machina”, delivers a thought-provoking and intellectually-arresting venture that is rarely seen in today’s cinema. “Annihilation” is accompanied-by a beautiful score, composed by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury. There work is never more appreciated than during a long-take scene that is fueled only by sound; the harmony of synths truly take your breath away. Garland paints a stunning masterpiece and the visuals are truly astounding. Also, the film features a few of the most thrilling and spectacularly-gruesome scenes that I’ve ever seen. True, genius imagination at work. The only area where “Annihilation” struggles is with its’ pacing, as the film does occasionally drag but not without great payoff during its 115 minute running time. On a side note, it’s important to note that studio representatives attempted to alter garland’s vision of the film, but his resounding resiliency to keep his vision (and the support of producer Scott Rudin), he gave us HIS version of “Annihilation”.
“Annihilation”, the first of a three-book series, follows a journey into the mysterious unknown called The Shimmer. As entertaining as it is intellectually-demanding, this film is sure to stick with you long after you leave the theater. It’s one of the very best science-fiction films in a long time; if you are heading to the movies this weekend, go see “Annihilation”! Though he has done script work for years, Alex Garland is now 2-for-2 in his directorial efforts and I cannot wait to see what he does next!
This humble opinion is brought to you by T. K. Edwards
Director by: Alex Garland
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Benedict Wong, Tessa Thompson
A group of scientists/soldiers embark on a mission into a place where logic and time do not exist and where the impossible becomes possible.
BELOW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS…CONTINUE READING AT OWN RISK
I was really excited to see Annihilation for two reasons. The first was because I was curious about the story. It looked really interesting and scary too. The second reason was that this marks the second time Alex Garland has directed a movie. I thought his first film called Ex-Machina was very good and I wanted to see what he had up his sleeve for his next film, Annihilation. Well now, after seeing it, i can honestly say this one for me unfortunately missed the target. The story was not as strong as I expected and all the tension in the film built up to an ending that did not deliver for me. Don’t get me wrong, Annihilation wasn’t a terrible movie, the acting was fairly strong and our lead actress, Natalie Portman, did a decent job, but nothing stood out for me as far as an outstanding performance. Now the movie did have some amazing imagery scattered throughout the film. But the imagery alone cannot save a film and it felt like that was what they were trying do. The best way I can describe this movie is that it wanted to be like the movie The Arrival, but ended up being more like the movie The Astronaut’s Wife.
Now diving more into Annihilation’s story and characters. I really didn’t find a connection to any of them. So, when the intense gory action takes place, I was just filled with shock and excitement of the special effects without the emotional connection I should have had with the characters too. The story looked like it was going in one direction for the audience and then stopped without any explanation. Certain scenes became somewhat confusing and others didn’t really drive home what they were trying for. One character just walked off the screen and when she was chased after, she ended up just disappearing. Now, I figured out where she went, but I can see how someone in the audience could be confused. Moreover, there was no reason for her to just leave in the first place, except for the fact that it was time to get rid of another character. Finally, I want to talk briefly about the ending. It was crazy, all over the place and made me feel like I was on some sort of psychedelic drug. I was really waiting for the ending to save the movie, but instead it just helped the film…end. Kinda like the director saying, “Ok, well that’s it. We’re done here. Figure out what I was trying to say and have a nice night”. Which once again, is fine, I just was expecting more from him. So, in conclusion, my suggestion is don’t go to the theater to see this one. Save your money and maybe watch it when it comes out on bluray/dvd. Until next time, thanks for reading.