Biologist and former soldier Lena (Academy Award® winner* Natalie Portman) is shocked when her missing husband (Oscar Isaac) comes home near death from a top-secret mission into The Shimmer, a mysterious quarantine zone no one has ever returned from. Now, Lena and her elite team must enter a beautiful, deadly world of mutated landscapes and creatures, to discover how to stop the growing phenomenon that threatens all life on Earth. The film also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny.
If you’ve seen a movie written or directed by Alex Garland, you know that he plays with the popular genre tropes, but gives it his own existential spin. While Annihilation appears to be your standard Sci-Fi/Action(not really) movie, it makes you ponder the meaning of life, death, existence itself, and any other questions that looms over the head of free thinking beings in the universe. Some sort of rift has opened, and the teams that have ventured into the rift to investigate have gone radio silent, and never returned. A team of female scientists are sent to discover if they can, what happened within whatever this tear in the universe may be.
What I liked most about Annihilation is that it’s not an Alien clone. It very easily could have been, but it never went that way. I realize it was adapted from a book, but at the same time, I am also aware that liberties were taken, and studios are known to turn great ideas into something that will make maximum profit. Annihilation feels like a moderately budgeted indie movie, but its compelling story, coupled with the excellent art design and special effects, make it more marketable to a mainstream audience who never would have went for something like Ex Machina, for example. The struggle of making a sort of art film mass marketable is that the end result will sometimes come off as pretentious, but I feel Annihilation escaped this.
There are a few moments of exploitation in the form of the gory aftermath of a death or injury, and the effects were pretty great. This on top of the atmosphere and the overall sense of looming dread give Annihilation enough of a horror feel to qualify for the genre. I wouldn’t recommend it to all horror fans, especially not fans who are new to the genre, but if you enjoyed movies like Sunshine or Event Horizon, I could see you enjoying this. It’s not a space movie, but it is very otherworldly. Another thing that might rope in the horror crowd is the practical effects. Don’t get me wrong, there is a little CG in the film, but practical effects were utilized when possible, and it definitely shows. Overall, I had a good time with Annihilation. It’s not a feel-good movie, it’s not a big blockbuster actioner, but it takes a tired genre and gives it a new spin.
Part 1 – SOUTHERN REACH
- Refractions – See how director Alex Garland created the tone, textures and color palettes for the various film environments on set.
- For Those That Follow – Listen to the cast’s perspective on their roles and learn why they found the story so intriguing.
- Part 2 – AREA X
- Shimmer – See how filmmakers transformed real set locations to create the world of Annihilation.
- Vanished into Havoc – Check out all the action as cast and crew walk you through the mind-blowing stunts and special effects.
- Part 3 – TO THE LIGHTHOUSE
- Unfathomable Mind – Learn why the visual effects are integral to achieving director Alex Garland’s overall vision for Annihilation.
- The Last Phase – Listen to the cast and crew share their fondest memories from filming Annihilation.