Director Alex Garland is back at it with another Sci-fi thriller on the big screen. Annihilation stars Natalie Portman (affectionately known as PadBae) as an ex-military Biologist that goes into the otherworldly phenomena known as “the shimmer”. The problem is that no one who goes into the shimmer ever comes out. This film is a wild ride, to say the least, and I have a lot of opinions about it so let’s get started.
When I saw trailers for Annihilation I was really hoping it would be a lot like the movie Arrival that came out in 2016. Arrival was a sci-fi mind-bender that blew me away and was one of my favorite movies of the year. I know some people that still have that movie as their favorite movie of all-time. Annihilation had some similar elements to that film, but it was filled with twice as much suspense, gruesome action, and trippy imagery (for lack of a better descriptive term). Why is that in “The Bad” section you may ask? The answer to that is simple, I am not a fan of disturbing gore. This film had quite a few moments that were so gruesome and disturbing that I actually had to look away.
One thing that really bugged me was the lack of answers that are given. I know that some people probably love that they can leave the theater and talk with their friends about the theories they have of how everything went down. For me, however, I left the theater with more questions than answers and I still confused about how it ended. I thought it would have that moment of clarity where it all just fits together in the end as my jaw drops to the floor, but this movie really didn’t have that.
There is some really trippy imagery that shows up in various places throughout. The scene in the lighthouse was particularly weird. There were points when it looked beautiful and then points where it just felt like I was hallucinating. It all makes me wonder, what state of mind was Jeff VanderMeer in when he wrote the novel?
This film does a fantastic job of generating suspense. Literally, from like the 10-minute mark on, I was glued to the screen and fully invested in what was going to happen next. The “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” mentality that Annihilation gave me is what so many so-called thrillers lack these days and is crucial to capturing the emotional attention of the audience. The eerie background music mixed with the occasional intense action scene leaves the audience with no idea when the next big event is about to unfold.
I like the idea of the film. It is really an interesting concept and one that could make for really great cinema. However, the problem is that the film presents this world inside the shimmer where nothing is how it should be, and it generates a lot of questions. Then the movie ends in an hour and a half and none of your questions have been answered. The action sequences were all pretty well done and very intense. In addition, most of the acting performances were pretty solid.
This rating is really all about preference for me and Annihilation is probably a movie that I should have known I wasn’t going to enjoy. It was just a weird and intense movie that left me with a boatload of unanswered questions. That being said, it is getting solid reviews and I have talked to some people who have enjoyed it. It all comes down to knowing what type of movie is your type of movie. This one isn’t my type of movie.