‘Annihilation’ Review

AnnihilationAnnihilation is a sci-fi horror film written and directed by Alex Garland, based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. The film stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny, with Oscar Isaac and Benedict Wong in supporting roles. The story follows a group of military scientists who enter a mysterious quarantined zone along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico known as “The Shimmer.” After learning that “The Shimmer” is full of plants and animals mutating at an exponential rate, the small group scientists journey towards the center to find and stop the cause of the phenomenon. The best thing about this film is the visuals. Alex Garland managed to craft a beautiful looking film with bright colors and intricate designs that is woven tortuously into the plot considering the many mutations going on. While many things in “The Shimmer” are obviously CGI, there are a few things that could have been practical effects. The film has decent acting with Natalie Portman standing out as the main character, Lena. We spend the most time with Lena and get to understand her need to go into “The Shimmer.” She feels a duty to help her husband but becomes more interested in learning about the cause of the mutations. Oscar Isaac is serviceable as Lena’s husband Kane, but his role is no more than a cameo. His appearance does set the story in motion but has little to do with the general plot. The other characters are merely there to serve Lena’s journey with viewers barely learning any information about them other than their professions and that they are the next group to investigate “The Shimmer.” However, Gina Rodriguez’s character Anya is very enjoyable to watch and has more development than the rest of the group. Annihilation does suffer from some editing and pacing issues, as well as confusing story elements. The film starts off slowly and never really picks up while switching between the present and the past via abrupt flashbacks. There are even title cards that do not match the location of said flashback. While some interesting plot elements involving time come up at the beginning of the film they are not explored in depth. Knowing more about this would have helped the viewers understand more about the nature of “The Shimmer.” Once we learn what is happening to the environment within “The Shimmer” we’re expecting there to be some payoff for this knowledge. However, once the film ends there is none. The destination is reached, some even weirder things happen without any explanation, and then the film ends. Overall, there end up being more questions than answers. I give Annihilation a Normal 5.5/10. Perhaps Netflix should have picked up the domestic distributing rights as well.

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