“Annihilation” is written and directed by Alex Garland, and stars Natalie Portman as Lena, a biologist who joins an expedition into “The Shimmer”, a rapidly expanding quarantined zone, after her husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac) falls ill after he returns from a previous expedition.
This movie floored me. I went in the theater not knowing what to expect, and I got everything I wanted in a science fiction movie, and more.
Alex Garland is proving to be a tour-de-force among today’s sci-fi marvels. After exploding into the scene with his directorial debut “Ex Machina” (2015), Garland has since improved his direction in almost every single way.
There have been comparisons made between Garland’s direction with the likes of masters such as Andrei Tarkovsky and Stanley Kubrick. After seeing this film, I can’t help but agree.
The way Garland sets up the world inside the mysterious Shimmer makes us gaze in awe, and at times makes us doubt our very eyes.
This film has perfect pacing. This is a rather slow-moving story, but Garland paces it so well that we are never drawn out of the moment. The suspense granted from the atmosphere keeps us locked in.
The film also blends in elements of horror very well. No, not the cheap jumpscare style of contemporary horror, but psychological horror; body horror. We are unnerved for this film’s entirety.
Aesthetic-wise, this film truly is perfect. The design of the Shimmer’s landscape and creatures, the cinematography, the music… all phenomenal. The CGI is also very impressive. The only issue is that there is one scene about halfway into the film where you can tell something is CGI. Otherwise, the CGI works, and the prosthetics put into the film is jaw-dropping.
Natalie Portman gives a great observational performance as our protagonist, Lena. The entirety of the all-female expedition gives purposefully restrained performances to highlight their violent past lives, building to a breaking point in the climax. Gina Rodriguez gives a particularly brilliant performance.
Outside the main cast, Oscar Isaac, Benedict Wong, and David Gyasi all give brief, yet impressive performances.
Throughout all the brilliance of the film, there is but one quarrel I have with the film, and that is its subplots.
Scattered through the film are flashbacks that highlight Lena and Kane’s past that, while not necessarily bad, are unnecessary. While I get that they try to develop Lena’s character arc, in the long run, thy are just unneeded.
“Annihilation” is a masterwork of science fiction, with an ending that will keep people talking for years to come. Marked by brilliant direction, performances, and aesthetic, “Annihilation” is a must-see for moviegoers.