Here’s my Annihilation review; the film stars Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Benedict Wong, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson. Directed by Alex Garland. Now available on Netflix.
tl;dr – Natalie Portman’s Lena joins an expedition to a place called “Area X” aka “The Shimmer” to find answers for her husband’s (Oscar Isaac) disappearance and reappearance.
This film is an adaptation of the Jeff VanderMeer of the same title with lots of plots and intricacies hacked away. That’s the sad part about this. The good part is that for a sci-fi/ horror/ thriller, it’s pretty good and gets away with a WTF ending.
Natalie Portman’s Lena here is a woman who knows loss. She lost her husband, then gets him back only to see him slowly wither away after returning from a mission in “Area X” aka The Shimmer. She’s lost her way but now wants to make amends and that’s what drives her character. Of course, being written as a smart person, she’s also manipulative (as seen in her later interaction with the remaining members of her expedition team). Ultimately, she’s human and she knows that she has to do something for her husband.
I have to hand it to the fillmakers, as I write this Annihilation review, I realized how well this non-linear story telling worked for the film. We get flashbacks, we get flash forwards some expositional moments here and there. We work our way to Lena’s story and her problems (let me save you some minutes, she’s had sex with a colleague.)
I kinda liked how the novel was but there are somethings that the movie made better. Like how Lena (or the biologist in the book) deals with her pain and the problems that she encounters in the area. Here in the movie though, we get a more “human” look at how she deals with things like crying or puking or crying AND puking after seeing her teammates dying one by one as they venture deeper into the lighthouse.
Oscar Isaac’s performance here kinda sucked. Not blaming the guy but c’mon, he could have done better. The alligator and the creepy bear made for better moments than the man also known as Poe Dameron.
I loved Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez’s role here in the film. She went from “Jane the Virgin” to “Jane the Psycho” real quick. Her moments of confusion, despite being dark and grim in nature, was illuminating at best. That’s just how you do crazy and confused kids.
Annihilation Review – Creature Feature
**Spoilers from here on***
Man, this won’t be a complete Annihilation review without mentioning about that damned creepy bear that stalked the explorers. The damned bear was using the voice of one of the expedition’s members Cassiie Sheppard (played by Tuva Novotny), he it torments the survivors by ultimately attacking them and killing Anya (Rodriguez). Those few moments really made me LIKE the movie. It’s primal terror and psychological horror at the same time.
Annihilation Review – That Twist Ending
One of the biggest shockers for me was how they chose to end Annihilation. There could have been a million and one ways to go about the story but they decide to do something off the wall that by the time the credits roll, you have yet to process what just happened. This makes for another reason to re-watch the film and find clues as to how and why the ending turned out that way. In short, it makes you want more.
Annihilation Review – Verdict
As a viewer, I loved this movie. It had a lot of great moments, and I definitely want to see more. There are two books following this story and I hope they manage to find a way to develop the trilogy, despite how the movie ended. I’m satisfied, I loved what I saw (and re-saw) and for that I am giving a high score for this Annihilation review.
*Would have been 10 if not for that bear giving me nightmares over the weekend.