Annihilation Review: Annihilation blends its sci-fi visual wonders and visceral genre thrills with an amazingly ambitious — and surprisingly odd — the study of complex topics that will have audiences pondering long after the credits roll. Read critic Annihilation reviews.
What’s the story in Annihilation?
The imaginative and terrifying “Annihilation” by Alex Garland does not cleanly fit into the same sci-fi genre categories as many other recent films.
Sci-fi was ubiquitous in the 2010s, from blockbusters like “Blade Runner 2049” to Netflix originals like “Mute” and “The Cloverfield Paradox,” with most of it owing to a great deal to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001,” Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner,” and the Wachowskis’ “The Matrix.”
Even within this resurgence, it is uncommon to see a film built on the blueprints of Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” or “Stalker,” films that utilized science fiction uncomfortably and emotionally since, well, it is quite difficult to pull off.
When Paramount saw “Annihilation,” they were at a loss for what to do, so they scarcely promoted it, hid it from the press until a few days before its release, and sold it to Netflix for international markets.
Perhaps they’re still smarting from ‘Mother!’ disaster, but they’ve buried a genre gem with this ambitious, challenging work that will be debated for decades. Not to be overlooked.
In the film’s opening sequence, a meteor-like object strikes a lighthouse. A woman is presumably being questioned in the future by a man in a hazmat suit.
Although they are not in the same room as her, individuals view the interrogation through the glass while wearing safety masks. What is her identity? Why is she viewed as a potential biohazard?
Again, we assume that the flashback occurs before the possibility that Lena (Natalie Portman) was radioactive. Lena, a successful biologist, appears on the point of overcoming her grief over her missing husband.
He has been on an undercover operation for a year and is assumed dead when he enters her bedroom. Kane (Oscar Isaac) may have returned home, but it is clear that something is wrong. In a brief flashback, Garland illustrates how lively and joyful Kane once was. This informs the spectator, along with Lena, that something is amiss with the man who is staring at her with lifeless eyes.
Garland is excellent at distributing information through small scenes, phrases, flashbacks, etc., giving us just what we need to assimilate and evaluate the event in front of us while staying one step ahead and making us eager to catch up. Then, Kane starts vomiting blood.
Annihilation Review: What did critics think of Annihilation?
“Annihilation” is a science-fiction fantasy with baroque horror elements that tells a strange tale of love, death, and extraterrestrial invasion.
Scientist Lena (Natalie Portman) is reunited with her presumed-deceased husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) shortly after the film’s opening.
As he sits in their kitchen with the camera slithering about, Lena’s astonishment gives way to elation, followed by a mounting discomfort that penetrates your skin like a virus.
Lena undertakes a courageous endeavor to discover what transpired and why. As is typical for this type of journey, each step of her search will bring her closer to herself.
The plot revolves around one of these extraterrestrial mysteries (an extraterrestrial, a monolith, or floating spaceships) that have come to Earth to wreak havoc, create conspiracies, and lead humans to make unwise choices.
As the foreign object, a shimmering, ever-expanding force field has descended across a section of Florida marshland, resembling an opalescent shower curtain.
The shimmer’s pinkish-purple and blue hues mirror the rainbow hues found in oily puddles on the road after it has rained, hinting that its beauty is deadly. The rainbow conjures up the ideas of Dorothy, another traveler to a foreign land.
In “Annihilation,” Lena plays the role of Orpheus, delving into a transformed world replete with terrors, death, eccentric beauty, and interpretive latitude.
She and the other women are tasked with interpreting the shimmer and learning why prior expeditions were so spectacularly unsuccessful.
Lena and the others—a paramedic (Gina Rodriguez), a physicist (Tessa Thompson), and an archaeologist (Tuva Novotny)—survey the terrain, collect samples, and battle foes, eventually including each other.
In addition, they discover a disturbing video captured by a prior expedition. This rapidly transforms the film into a Grand Guignol nightmare.