Annihilation: Film Review

Alex Garland has been known as a screenwriter in the science fiction area for a long time with both Dredd and Sunshine to come in mind. But when he made his directorial debut in 2015 with his film Ex Machina, which was one of the best movies of that year and he was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, it was at that point he was going places where he becomes a prominent writer/director for years to come. So when it comes to his follow-up, Annihilation, it’s definitely going to be another one of those films in the sci-fi films that will be discussed by fans everywhere the chance comes.

Based on the Jeff VanderMeer novel of the same name, After Lena (Natalie Portman)’s black-ops husband Kane disappears, she and a group of military scientist enters a mysterious quarantined zone known as “The Shimmer”. As these scientists try to figure out what’s inside of it, everything doesn’t seem to go right on their quest to look for answers as it may seem.

Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuva Novotny, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson in Annihilation (2018)
After Ex Machina was released, I was wondering what the next film Garland was gonna have up his sleeves. From what I heard from people who did read the book, I heard mixed opinions about it. Annihilation has the tendency of going to be one of those where people will either love or hate in regards to what’s being told to us onscreen. How did I feel about the film? I don’t love it like everybody else at this moment. However, I did appreciate the approach the film was successfully trying to capture with its crossing of elements of genres and the hidden meanings behind what’s really going on throughout Annihilation.

Garland truly knows how to capture all sense of tension from the setting and between its characters whenever he has to deal with anything related to these types of films. This is such a beautifully made film with amazing cinematography from Rob Hardy. Other technical aspects about the film were all of the visuals that were inside “The Shimmer” were also outstanding and the score from Geoff Barrow and Ben Sailbury.

Portman’s Lena really carries this film on her shoulders. She’s basically the main one who know more about with a past that full of secrets when her husband isn’t around that time. The rest of team of Military women consisting of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, and Tuva Novotny were also well in their respective roles, but there’s isn’t so much development from say two of them. Oscar Isaac’s role seems to be a mystery with spoiling what he does.

Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson in Annihilation (2018)
From the story’s perspective, it the equivalent of a puzzle that you’re trying to put other. But once it’s almost complete, there are a few missing pieces that got lost or couldn’t be found. Intriguing as the plot may be, it might’ve gotten mildly confusing from me. Crossing between sci-fi and horror elements into the story, that actually worked in the film’s favor. Not particularly scary with a something structured like Alien, but it’s handled quite well. The way it’s trying to get across the message that Garland wants to potentially grab you might make sense once it starts to see that light build above your head.

There is a slow burn to the film itself, which I kind of figured since I didn’t expect this to be highly fast-paced, in my opinion. However, it was able to keep me engaged with the plot when it’s taking its time. But there are a couple scenes where it does get graphic, and that could close a lot of people off, I included.

Annihilation (2018)Annihilation often reminds me in similarities to another great Sci-Fi film Arrival (the better of the two) to the point where after it was leading toward the end, I really had to ponder how everything needs to be explained. But it’s honestly one of those sci-fi films that might require you to use your brain to test yourself with what’s happening. And though these are the types of films in this genre that pushes the limits to be smarter than it sounds, it ends up like that.

Did I leave the theater confused? Yep, and just like with Arrival, I wanted to research what everything meant after it was over. But overall, Annihilation is impressive on the bases that it could be challenging but can open a part of your mind. It’s a shame though that it’s going to be on Netflix in different countries. This one needs to be seen on the big screen because it’s honestly made for it, though it’s definitely not for everybody because it won’t be enjoyed by every single person to get what’s going on.

Equally ambitious and intriguing that will lead some to frustration, Annihilation is an interesting piece of Sci-Fi that’s another win for writer/director Alex Garland. Grade: B

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