Humanity has, is, and will always be expendable
Unlike other Sci-Fi films that have dabbled within the realm of mankind, its existence, and forces beyond its control that can change the outcome of humanity, the subject-matter has never been so uniquely displayed like it has in films like 2002’s 28 DAYS LATER, or 2014’s EX MACHINA. What do they have in common? Alex Garland! His vision among the genre has been piquing interest for a while and history speaks for itself. Whether a deadly virus, or artificial intelligence, mankind has been put to the test in drastic ways. His latest (written and directed by him), based on the acclaimed bestselling SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY by Jeff VanderMeer, doesn’t fall too far from the tree of dread and intrigue.
Starring Natalie Portman as Lena, a biologist and former Army soldier, ANNIHILATION follows her among a dark and complex journey as she volunteers to take part in a mysterious mission. Her ulterior motive? Well, seeking answers pertaining to her husband (Oscar Isaac), who once inside “Area X” – a sinister existence that is expanding across the American coastline – never seemed the same afterwards. Once inside, Lena and her crew of bold and brainy women (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, and Tuva Novotny) discover a world of mutated landscapes and creatures, as dangerous as it is beautiful, that threatens both their sanity (and most importantly) existence.
There’s no way to talk about this flick without talking about this flick. I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, so, I will not spoil details. However, this is one twisty, trippy work of cinematic escapism. For starters, to say Garland’s Sci-Fi vision is one that encompasses and challenges the existence of mankind would be an understatement. ANNIHILATION proves it beyond its “simple narrative” of someone seeking answers about/for a loved one. I will say the film itself is a slow-burn. Very slow. But it’s a creepy kinda slow, in an engaging way. There’s a method to this slow madness as you endure it. There’s a lot going on and attention is needed. Its cast of leads are a charm to watch. For the most part you’re drawn in on a mission not only spearheaded, but seen through by five of the most talented women in Hollywood. Badasses in their own, individual right, they make the story much more interesting.
However, the payoff when exposed to all the unexplained phenomenon experienced by them, and its subtle metaphors (if purposely made to seem that way) triggers thought-provoking matters that runs parallel with human extinction and evolution. It’s an ambitious, remarkable, rugged piece that also provides added feeling due to its score. A score that pushes boundaries with tension-building, crazy scenery, and other accouterments that rattle your brain, turns your stomach, and more than likely make your skin crawl.
Grade: A / Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Adaptation / Rated: R / Run Time: 1:55
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Tuva
Novotny, Gina Rodriguez, Oscar Isaac
Directed by: Alex Garland