Director – Alex Garland (Ex Machina)
Starring – Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace), Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Sucker Punch), and Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight, Twin Peaks)
Rating – 4/5
Earlier in the year the sci-fi horror film Annihilation hit theaters. From the little TV spots and poster work I had seen for the film I had little interest in checking it out. However, a few weeks into it’s theatrical run a few of my horror minded friends were talking about how awesome it was. This peaked my interest a little but then I saw a screenshot of a creature that could be found in the film.
I was under the impression the movie was a sci-fi flick with no horror elements. The creature sealed the deal for me but I would have to wait until it received a physical release. I missed it’s theatrical run but as soon as I caught wind a blu was in the works I had to reach out and review it.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows a former solider turned biologist Lena (Portman) is taken to a secure location that is quarantined from the populace. Something not of this world landed there several years ago and has been changing the landscape and wildlife since. Her husband was sent in there nearly a year ago and was presumed dead until her arrived with no memory of how he got there and an unexplained sickness. Lena and an all female team enter the “shimmer” to investigate the cause and how to stop it while Lena searches for answers to her husband’s ailment.**Spoiler Alert**
My initial thought on Annihilation was that it was going to be a sci-fi film that tries too hard. We’ve all seen those films and most don’t enjoy them. They have a cast of big name actors, are visually stunning, and have names that catch your attention but the overall film is rather boring and bland. Annihilation may have looked like that on the outside but inside it was a complicated film that submerges itself in a sci-fi shell while tossing horror moments at the viewer. I absolutely fucking loved this film.
The acting in this one is great. I’m one of the five people alive right now that liked the Star Wars’ prequels which means I am a fan of Natalie Portman. Her performance in this one is great but she is rather dry in her role. I’ve seen so many films where she delivers a wide range of emotion and really breaths life into the film. Here she is flat but still does a great job. Her supporting cast is fantastic. It’s great to see another Star Wars’ actor accompanying her on screen. Sadly, we don’t get a lot of screen time from Oscar Isaac. What we do see is great but his character does take the back seat.
The story for this one is fascinating and mesmerizing. It is rather complex for the most part and if you blink you miss something but it does flow at such a pace that you can enjoy yourself without taking notes. There was a few questions I had that the film didn’t answer but that didn’t take away from the overall film.
Finally, the film is a visual feast. It has so many beautiful images that mix real photography and cinematography with computer generated images but there was a few instances that made me facepalm. These are mostly the wildlife they encounter while on their journey. Some stuck out like a sore thumb and was very noticeable. With a budget like this I thought they would put more work into making it look better. There is also several gnarly gags in the film with some blood and guts. Horror fans will enjoy that. Overall, Annihilation exceeded all my expectations. Fans of sci-fi and horror alike will need to check this one out!