"Annihilation is the biggest sci-fi mind bender to come along in years"
is the newest science fiction thriller from Ex-Machina
director Alex Garland starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez and Oscar Issac.
In the opening shots of Annihilation
, there is a meteor explosion from a lighthouse and the camera cuts to Lena (Natalie Portman) being interrogated by some sort of Hazmat agents inside a quarantined lab insistent on what happened to her and her team, and why she is the only who made it back.
Lena, a former army soldier and current biologist, has been alone for the past year due to her army sergeant husband Kane (Oscar Issac) being killed in action from his last covert mission. Kane returns home, but Lena immediately senses that the morose, confused man standing in front of her is not the man that she knew as her husband. After getting violently ill Lena tries to get him to a hospital. The ambulance is hijacked by government operatives, and Lena wakes up in a facility and finds out her husband is near death.
The facility is only a few miles from where the lighthouse exploded in the first shot. Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a doctor at said facility explains to Lena that her husband was on a covert mission to investigate and report was found inside “The Shimmer,” a rainbow wall of energy where every military team who has been sent to it never returned.
This time instead of military, the facility has elected to send scientists, Anya (Gina Rodriguez), Josie (Tessa Thompson), Cass (Tuva Notovny) and Dr. Ventress. Lena volunteers to join this mission, to get some answers about what happened to her husband.
Despite everything that was explained above, nothing stated in the previous description was a spoiler. In fact, the movie does not start until the team enters The Shimmer.
The moment the women enter the woods, the movie carries a tone that carries an immediate sense of unsettlement. Although the first actual scary scene does not happen for about five minutes after, the impact is even greater because you never really had a sense of ease to begin with.
There is one particularly terrifying scene involving the women being trapped in the house and being stalked by a bear that was really well done. Thanks to the world that had been created up to that point, and unsettling tone that has been created by Garland, as well as the performances from the actresses, your heart will jump into your throat.
is a really hard movie to explain and analyze without spoiling. The movie is told in a nonlinear way that includes a series of flashbacks that consists mostly Lena and Kane’s relationship before he went off into the woods. Those flashbacks could be annoying to most, but I thought it was a perfect way to give depth to the characters. They do illustrate the state of their relationship and what reason that may have led to Kane undertaking a suicide mission, and you have a better understanding of why Lena needed to find out what happened to him.
The only complaint that I really have is that I wish we had a little better idea of what happened to the soldiers while they were inside The Shimmer. There was some footage that showed what they went through, but there should have been more, maybe about one more scene. The audience is made aware from the beginning that they died, but a little more footage explaining that would have given the movie just the slightly more focused sense of direction.
is a truly great science-fiction/mystery/drama sometimes horror thriller. It is interesting, scary, creepy, pretty and completely unpredictable. It will not leave your brain for days after it is over, and there has not been a movie of this genre, this good in a really long time.