ANNIHILATION is a sci-fi masterpiece extravaganza. Well, to me it is. I do have a word of warning for all you would be watchers. Two warnings actually. Warning #1: This film contains some weird shit in it. Like Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey weird sci-fi shit. If you don’t like that kind of shit and aren’t even close to being a huge cine-phile like myself, this movie is probably not for you. Warning #2: This warning is for people who have read the book. I have not, but after the film I went to several websites and read basically what happens throughout the entire novel. THIS MOVIE IS NOTHING LIKE THE BOOK. At all. Writer and Director Alex Garland took some DNA and ideas from the book and fully formed his own original tale and ideas. And it boldly worked out. So if you are looking for a straight up adaptation, you are going to be might-ely pissed off.
But if you love, love, love weird 2001 Spacey Odyssey shit mixed with some David Cronenberg body horror, mixed in with WTF creature features, with a touch of Arrival, well then this film is right up your alley. The film also makes you think, which I always usually give my stamp of approval toward. To explain the plot without ruining anything (you get this if you watch the trailer), a biologist’s (played exquisitely by Natalie Portman) husband has come back to her after a year “military/covert” absence, sick and dying inside from internal bleeding. She gets whisked away from the U.S. government and explains what happened to her husband. He and some other military personnel signed up to investigate what they call “The Shimmer.” It is an area that when hit by a meteor starting developing a weird aura around it and it is only growing bigger and bigger by time. Oh, and whoever enters this aura perimeter never, ever comes back. Portman’s husband (played by the always good Oscar Isaac) is the very first person to ever come back. She volunteers to go in to figure out what happens to her husband along with a group of non military but special skilled women played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, and Tuva Novotny.
And that is all I can say. The revelations and mysteries inside “The Shimmer” are yours and yours alone to figure out and then contemplate what is revealed to you. Let’s just say that the climax is definitely not for everyone. Modern audience will think that it is too weird, and that is maybe why Netflix is releasing this overseas (not here) in a short 17 days, even though they should have more confidence considering the film is doing critically very well right now. But I liked it, and think that it made complete and perfect sense. I was in awe by everything in this film. From the visuals, to the morals of their dilemma’s, to the mystery of the entire thing. I was intrigued until the end credits and want to watch it again to see if I picked up on anything that I missed.
Plus, this movie has about a 7 to 10 minute sequence that freaked me out involving one of the most hideous and frightening creatures I have ever seen. It made my heart pump throughout the entire thing and it is literally one of the most perfect scare tactic scenes I have ever seen. Perfect acting, writing and directions. Can’t wait for it to freak me out again. Now let’s get to the acting shall we? Natalie Portman proves once again why she won the Oscar for Black Swan and why it was Lucas’ direction of the prequels that is truly to blame for all the bad acting in Star Wars film at the turn of the century. She is incredible in this and probably her best role since Black Swan. Even better than Jackie, IMO. Jennifer Jason Leigh is kind of meh in this, however some revelations of her character explain why it is so. Tuva Novotny is good in the scenes she is in, but I thought that Tessa Thompson, so good in Thor: Ragnarok, is utterly wasted in this even though she has one little scene to shine. The real person that steals all her scenes is Gina Rodriguez, from Jane the Virgin. She is incredibly in this and once her show on television is done she should get more projects like this and win some serious awards in the future.
Talking about anything else will spoil stuff, so anyway, yeah, if you’ve seen the trailer and this movie intrigues you, go and see it. The marketing for the film has been kind of off. It somewhat tries to sell it to you has a horror sci-fi film and even though it does just have a couple of horror elements, it is more 2001 A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner than it is anywhere near Alien. It’s a science fiction film that makes you think, is a very slow burn, and doesn’t just throw in action to make you perk up in your seat. Everything about it has a purpose. I love movies that don’t spoon feed its audience. And Alex Garland has thrown away his spoon with this and is essentially giving modern audiences the finger. This pleases me.