Movie reviewing has always been something I’ve wanted to get into, but has never been something I’ve had the guts to give a shot. I’ve been an avid admirer of cinema for as long as I can remember, and will never forget that feeling I’d always get as a child after watching a movie I really loved – obsessing over the film and everything about it for the following few days. Annihilation (2018) is the first film in a long while that has rekindled that nostalgic feeling.
Without giving too much away, the film is centered around Lena, a biology teacher (played WONDERFULLY by Natalie Portman) whose husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac) disappeared for a year on a mysterious covert mission. Kane returns suddenly one day, extremely disassociated and fragile. Lena is then whisked off to a top secret government facility, where she learns all about what her husbands mission entailed and ventures off into the unknown with a team of four other women (Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuva Novotny, Gina Rodriguez) to find out what really happened to him/goes on inside “The Shimmer”.
Directed and written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Ex Machina), Annihilation is a whirlwind concoction of eerie horror and out-the-box sci-fi, tied together by an omnipresent sense of intellect that equates to be one of the most visually stunning, trippy and thought provoking films of recent years. The flick is a truly REAL science fiction film, that simultaneously brings something new to the genre. Many readers will be pleased to hear that this is a million miles away from your typical explosion and terrible comedy-ridden sci-fi movie that’s dominated the cinema world for the past decade. I’m looking at you, Will Smith’s BRIGHT. I’m looking at you. With “straight to Netflix” movies getting quite the bad name, is Annihilation really worth the watch?
Abso-frickin-lutely it is. Bringing together some of the best elements of both the science fiction, and horror world, Annihilation is a thrilling spectacle from start to finish. With out of this world cinematography popping up all over the shop, a killer cast and some pretty damn graphic n bloody sequences here and there, this movie is a must-see and is for sure one that will be sitting on my top films of the year lists (despite it only being March as I type this). The gut-wrenching horror of the film, does take the back seat however, with the science at the wheel, driving the narrative. The narrative here, will come as peculiar to many, with its Pulp Fiction–esque set up (frequently jumping between past & present), I did find myself confused at times but not enough to not enjoy the movie. The visual effects and cinematography at play here, alone, are enough to make the movie strong enough to be on each and every awards list. It’s smart, its unconventional, it’s visually stunning, it’s terrifying, what more could you want?
The disoriented nature of the film’s narrative is balanced out by the groundbreaking performances from Portman and co – in turn leaving the viewer equally as intrigued to find out more as our protagonists are. Jennifer Jason Leigh is brilliant as the reclusive Dr. Ventress, Tessa Thompson puts on a bewildering performance as the ambiguous Josie, whilst Gina Rodriguez (obviously) crushes it as the unbalanced Anya. It would be a crime to say Natalie Portman doesn’t run the show here, she sits comfortably at the heart of this movie, putting in easily one of the best performances of her entire career as the gritty, determined, intellectual Lena. The psychological effects of The Shimmer can be seen at their fullest, with Portman, who shines as a brave, gun-wielding heroine at one turn, and goes into full-throttled anxiety at the next.
This is a really intriguing, interesting story, pulled off excellently by Garland. SO much so, that it’s serving damn near impossible to find something I don’t like about it. The only fault I could pick out is the confusion as to what’s going on at times, but I think that kinda adds to the spectacle and gives purpose to re watch. Annihilation really is a triumph in the lacklustre ocean that is science fiction, jam-packed with outstanding acting, mind blowing cinematography and a thoroughly suitable and beautiful score, you’d be daft to give this one a miss. This might just be the easiest 10/10 I ever give, this is going to be a hard one to top.
Words by Ben Davies