RELEASED: 12th March 2018
DIRECTOR: Alex Garland
CAST: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Oscar Isaac, Benedict Wong, David Gyasi, Sonoya Mizuno, Sammy Hayman and Josh Danford
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $43m
Annihilation has us following Lena, a former U.S Army soldier now working as a cellular biology professor that is still grieving over her husband who has gone missing on a mission for nearly a year. One day he suddenly returns home, not remembering anytime of that missing time and suddenly he comes very ill. As a government security squad intercepts their ambulance, they’re taken to Area X. Lena is told that her husband Kane is the only survivor to have ever entered an environmental disaster zone referred to as the shimmer and into order to find out what is inside the shimmer and what happened to her husband, Lena joins a research expedition that consists of an anthropologist, a psychologist, a surveyor, and a linguist.
Annihilation is the 2018 film adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s sci-fi novel which was adapted and directed by Alex Garland. We follow the journey of Annihilation through the eyes of Lena, a former soldier turned cellular biology professor whose husband, MIA for a year, suddenly returns home with no idea of how he was or how he back and almost immediately becomes very ill. As a Government squad intercepts their ambulance, Lena wakes up to find herself in a secret facility, learns that her husband is the sole survivor of several teams that have an anomalous zone known as ‘the Shimmer’. As ‘the Shimmer’ continues to grow and still without any knowledge of what’s contained within, a new expedition team sets out to discover what is behind ‘the Shimmer’, with Lena tagging along in the hopes for answers of her own. The psychedelic colour scheme given to ‘the Shimmers’ appearance from afar, as well as within its environmental walls gives Annihilation a different feel thanks to Rob Hardy’s cinematography as well as the visual effects team, particularly in creating the illusion of community houses being almost swallowed by the earthly terrain, as well as how newly formed plants are presented. The film relies heavily on atmosphere, creating a sense of dread with its visual symbolism as well as when the characters begin to learn and discover that everything they’re trying to accomplish and gain knowledge for feels like it’s all for nothing as the deeper into ‘the Shimmer’ they go, they realise exactly what is happening and why they’re unable to contact anyone outside ‘the Shimmer’ zone. There’s a few mutated creatures showcased here and there, but one in particular is used to chilling effect as the team stays the night in an abandoned village that might be one of my favourite horror scenes of the decade. I love/hate the idea behind that mutated bear and how that scene is executed. The films score also becomes increasingly effective as the film progresses and reaches its peak during the films climax. Underneath the surface of the journey and discovery behind ‘the Shimmer’ is every member has their own vulnerabilities going into this mission, and we witness how it effects them mentally within ‘the Shimmer’ and, in some cases, causes them to self-destruct. The performances from the ensemble are good, with Natalie Portman’s steely performance as Lena being the main highlight.
FAVOURITE SCENE: When Anya is overcome with paranoia, she tries the remaining group to chairs…and the mutated bear returns. That whole concept behind the mutated bear is brilliant and the scene is executed to horrific effect.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “Then, as a psychologist, I think you’re confusing suicide with self-destruction. Almost none of us commit suicide, and almost all of us self-destruct. In some way, in some part of our lives. We drink, or we smoke, we destabilise the good job… and a happy marriage. But these aren’t decisions, they’re… they’re impulses. In fact, you’re probably better equipped to explain this than I am.
What does that mean?
You’re a biologist. Isn’t the self-destruction coded into us? Programmed into each cell?” – Dr. Ventress and Lena
DID YOU KNOW: Oscar Isaac filmed this movie and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) on adjacent studio lots. He had the same trailer for both films and would often film scenes for both movies on the same day.