Monday, March 5, 2018

Movie Review: "Annihilation" (2018)

Director: Alex Garland
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

A group of scientists is sent into an ever-expanding area called The Shimmer to study what it is and to see if they can prevent it from spreading any further.

We feel astonishingly bad for people who live in regions where "Annihilation" will simply be dumped and discarded on Netflix instead of being released in theaters. This is a film made to be seen on the big screen and demands attention where there are no distractions like cell phones ringing, dogs barking, children shrilly screeching, laundry machines clanging, or any other god awful thing that will sidetrack you in your home. "Annihilation" is written and directed by Alex Garland, who made a big splash with his directorial debut "Ex Machina" in 2014. Garland has been writing quality sci-fi and horror movies for a while, including the likes of "28 Days Later" and "Sunshine." This film is adapted from a novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. It stars Natalie Portman as Lena, a biologist currently teaching at Johns Hopkins University. She was also a former soldier in the US Army. Her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) is still in the military and went on a mission a year ago, but hasn't been heard from since. Lena has also been unable to get any more information about his mission from his higher-ups. One day, Kane shows up at home without any warning, but he is deathly ill. Lena learns he has spent up to a year in a place dubbed The Shimmer. To try and find out what happened to her husband, Lena volunteers to head into The Shimmer with a team of researchers to investigate and analyze what it is and how to stop it. Joining Portman are Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Lee, Gina Rodriguez, and Tuva Novotny as the other members of her expedition team.

It's hard to comprehend everything that happens in "Annihilation." We're not talking about the central plotline. We're talking about the vast amount of subtext and small little visual cues that happen throughout the film. This is a movie that means a lot of different things, and as such, it is a movie you will most likely need to watch three or four times before you can pick up every little subtlety. We are sure we missed a ton of stuff the first time around and can't wait to see it again. Unfortunately, this may be a detriment to the film. Many moviegoers and general audiences who are unlikely to watch movies more than once, especially ones that don't involve superheroes, tend to want to have their hand held through each moment so they don't have to analyze every minute detail in a given runtime. For hardcore enthusiasts of science fiction like us, this movie is right up our alley.

There are many stunning visuals in "Annihilation." In the span of just a few seconds, Garland's rainbow Shimmer-world becomes a deadly nightmare full of creatures that will scare the pants off even seasoned horror fan. Some scenes have very tense and exciting moments that should please any viewer. There are a few things in this movie that downright gave us the willies and left us greatly unsettled, which is hard to do when you've seen as many movies as we have. We were glued to the screen wondering what direction the narrative was going to take us next and what crazy being was lurking just around the corner. Natalie Portman is fantastic in the film, as is the supporting cast. Gina Rodriguez has a brilliant scene where she gets to really show her versatility as an actress. We love her on "Jane the Virgin," and we're so glad to see her going in all sorts of different routes in her career. Tessa Thompson is also excellent, though we feel like she gets a little less backstory than the other characters.

We are loving the trend of more intelligent sci-fi films as of late. "Annihilation" respects its audience and assumes people will understand what's going on beyond what's shown on the surface. It can and will make you think and want to discuss its various different meanings and plot points. Disappointingly, Paramount Studio had less faith in the audience, which is why this movie is getting dumped on Netflix in the majority of countries around the world. If and when you do get a chance to see this movie, please try to do so on the biggest screen possible, with the best sound available, and with as few distractions around as you can. This is an amazing film.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~86%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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  1. Personally I found it very confusing, don't bother.

    1. Hello, Unknown!

      Sorry you found it confusing! It's definitely not for everyone and may require multiple viewings to fully appreciate it. Hopefully others try it out either way!

      ~Lolo & BigJ