Natalie Portman as Lena
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dr. Ventress
Gina Rodriguez as Anya
Tessa Thompson as Jose
Tuva Novotny as Cass
Oscar Isaac as Kane
Benedict Wong as Lomax
In theatres February 23
1 1/2 out of 5
A meteorite crashes on a lonely coastline causing an unusual environmental phenomenon called The Shimmer. One year ago a military expedition was sent in to investigate it. The expedition went missing until one man was found to have survived, the husband of Lena a biologist suddenly finds her husband in their home. He has no idea how he got there or how much time has passed or any memories at all. He then starts coughing up blood. On the way to the hospital, the ambulance is overtaken by a government agency and Lena and her husband Kane are taken to a facility where she learns about the shimmer and that her husband was the only survivor of his expedition. The agency wants to send in another team (all female) to recon and with Lena’s experience as a cellular biologist she might be beneficial. As the new team sets off to explore the expanse, they discover a strange new world of animal and plant life. The shimmer, an alien phenomenon, seems to be merging flora and fauna in interesting and sometimes deadly ways, but what is it’s purpose, why is it here and what threat does it pose to humanity?
As far as sci-fi films go Annihilation is serviceable on the surface, but on the whole it feels very empty. It poses more questions than it answers which is fine, but it seems to take a long time to get there. There are a few choice moments of creepy scares, but you come away with a feeling of “what the hell did I just watch?” and not in a good way, especially the last twenty minutes when Portman’s character carries out a half-hearted choreographed mirror routine with her alien doppelganger. We’re still trying to figure out exactly what’s going on and still not getting any answers. Watching this movie felt like watching a movie version of a bad survival horror video game, but without the action. Natalie Portman’s performance is much like everyone else’s in this film. All the characters seem to be sleepwalking their way thorough the experience not really giving us a reason to get invested in them.
All in all this film is not essentially bad, it’s just boring. The movie does offer some interestingly psychedelic visuals that would definitely suggest that this film would be better viewed after enjoying some herbal refreshment, in fact I think that may be the only way to get any entertainment out of it at all. Director Alex Garland who created a creepy, claustrophobic, minimalist environment in Ex Machina attempts to do so again in this film, but where it worked well for that story, it merely causes this one to drag. If you are a fan of Ex Machina you might enjoy this film, but otherwise I say save your money on this one, just wait till it hits Netflix.
Check out the trailer for “ANNIHILATION” below: