Just like the scrambled species and plant life discovered in the movie Annihilation, my emotions and thoughts on this film are just as scrambled. I am torn about how I feel about this movie. From a PR perspective that is a good thing. Walking out of a movie with thoughts and opinions about it means that people are talking about this film and not forgetting about it once the credits roll up. While there is a lot that people can discuss at the water cooler, it still doesn’t scream “smash hit” following the impressive movie Ex Machina from Director and Writer Alex Garland. Judging from an entertainment stand point it missed the mark but with the right fan, this movie actually can be their contender for one of the best of 2018.
This movie is brought to you by the novel of the same title written by Jeff VanderMeer, which teeters on the same sci-fi fantasy trip Garland took us on with Ex Machina. This movie stars Natalie Portman and reunites Oscar Isaacs (Ex Machina) as husband and wife whose lives are broken apart when Isaacs character Kane goes on an expedition into a part of a forest that has been surrounded by this fluorescent color shield and explore the inhabitants within. He returns not himself and very ill from his journey. To understand what happened to him, Lena (Portman) along with a crew of highly intelligent and skilled women go in to explore and collect data and discover what this new phenomenon is before it can potentially destroy the planet.
First of all, for those who have seen Ex Machina you know what to expect from this movie. It’s a little bit of a slow burn, very intense one on one conversation. Making sure to question existence and our part in the world is another aspect that I got from both films. Annihilation starts off very interesting and mysterious. The film gives you something to latch on, a mission if you will, as to what is going on in “The Shimmer” which is the domed area with all the fantastical wonder. You meet the rest of the cast which forms the crew going in with Portman’s character giving you Ghostbusters realness quickly. You don’t get to learn too much about them but enough to classify them into their personas.
Acting was great over all. Gina Rodriguez slays this role as tough lesbian EMT brought on with her survival skills. What a difference a movie makes when you have watched her prior to this as the sweet lovely and always smiling Jane from “Jane the Virgin” She I believe delivers most of the intense scenes and emotion from what her part asked for. She also provided most of the comic relief in the film. Another great actress is Tessa Thompson, who is still on a high from her great and fun performance from Thor: Ragnarok. She plays the complete opposite as Josie, the quiet and introverted loner like woman. Other familiar faces you will see are Jennifer Jason Leigh and Benedict Wong from Dr. Strange fame.
I believe the story is easy to follow but not as interesting as I’d hope. Some of the tech and biological language flew over my head so I will say if you enjoy both and are familiar with the type of scripts that like to sound like they know what they are talking about, this movie will give you plenty to analyze about. Some of the dialogue is questionable. Wasn’t keeping my attention for me the way it is executed in the film. After a certain amount of time of discussing everything and trying to figure out everyone’s reasoning and story, you are just itching to see more of the wonder that lurks behind each branch and tree. Visually the movie looks stunning. The effects are top notch as you are introduces to new animal like creatures and plant life. Seeing these animals kind of reminded me of “The Wuzzles”, that cartoon where all the animals are merged together to create a new animal. For instance, bumble lion, is one of the animals, which is a cross between a bumble bee and a lion. Once you witness all of that, you are given something to fear and something to admire. The film takes you on an up and down ride of being terrified and being impressed with what you see. Do you embrace and except what you see or do you question the laws of nature?
I believe that this movie is worth the watch but it doesn’t excite or keep your attention the whole time. Plus be ready for an ambiguous ending that will leave you wanting more or just add frustration to the time and effort you put into the movie without the payoff you are hoping for. There is a fan for this film and after walking out of it myself, I found myself very curious as to the meaning and message of the film. There was something said towards the end that really made me think outside the box on this one and figuring out what the movie was trying to say. I have talked with people who like this film and those who don’t. The difference is most people who enjoy this kind of atmosphere and language of sci-fi and things that can’t be explained will enjoy this film. Those who are looking for a straight up scare fest like you would get from watching a movie like Aliens will praise a few parts of the film but I predict will say that it wasn’t worth the watch or length of the movie.
After the film, I’d say I got what I needed and don’t really need to re-watch to catch something I have missed but I do want to know more and I am curious to what most people pull from it, if I learn more about it, I have no doubt ill appreciate the movie more. Overall, entertainment scale wasn’t a hit for me.
3 ½ out of 5
Thank you to everyone who read my review today. What did you think of the film? How did you decipher the mystery of The Shimmer? Were you completely entertained by this movie? Comment below and remember, with every movie there is at least one fan. I’ll see you at the movies.