It’s only February, but the film offerings this year have already been pretty great. Annihilation is right up there, although it does fall a bit flat in the last act.
From the mind of writer/director Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later) based on Jeff VanderMeer’s best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation is a strong entry into science fiction/horror. From the trailers, it’s hard to get a firm feel of what type of film this is- some show it as a romantic “I must save you” film, others an action-suspense, and most notably an Alien like flick.
For the most part, the Natalie Portman led cast of strong women delivers the goods as far as an engaging and entertaining piece of cinema. Even the ending, which is coming under some scrutiny as feeling rushed compared to the rest, wasn’t….bad.
Gina Rodriguez’s character Anya Thorensen is right up there with Vasquez from Aliens, I would even go so far as to say she maybe based her performance on Jenette Goldstein’s from 1986.
Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, and Jennifer Jason Leigh make up the rest of the expedition team that goes into the Shimmer, a extraterrestrial prismatic cancer that engulfs a section of swampland, and begins to morph everything inside it’s area. It slowly grows over a three year period (actually that timeline seems to change from 2 years to 3 years, but that could just be a side effect of how time runs differently once inside.)
Oscar Isaac is perhaps the most disappointing part of the film, not because he’s bad, more than his character just isn’t as important. Which is nice in a way, because this film really is about the women.
I would go so far as to say that this story wouldn’t work if the team were men, or at the least, it doesn’t matter that they’re NOT men. They each are capable in their fields, and when faced with the most AWESOMELY terrifying bear in modern cinema (seriously, it was my favorite part because everyone in my screening was freaked out by it) they don’t fall apart.
SCORE: 3.7 out of 5, viewed in standard non 3d, will def see again
As I said, the cast is engaging, the story is good, the visuals are good. It doesn’t necessarily feel like something we’ve seen a million times before which happens with science fiction. Sure, there are parts that you could point to and say “this is right out of this thing”, but it’s not as noticeable.
Also, I love Garland’s visuals of the straight lines of technology paired with windows to the lush natural world outside. He used the same kind of shots in Ex Machina, and it works here too.
That. Fucking. Bear.
The ending just didn’t do it for me. I guess I should say the climax leading up to the ending, because I had no real issue with the ending on it’s own. But it seems too simple, and I’m curious to know if it was a last minute change on Garland’s part.
Annihilation opens in theaters on Friday February 23rd.