Annihilation is the latest flick starring Natalie Portman. She took off her self-importance cap and made something worth watching again. Yay! Alex Garland (Dredd, Ex Machina) wrote and directed the film based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer. This director is shaping up to be a real talent in the sci-fi genre. His movie strikes a dreamy, pensive tone as four scientists are sent to explore a mysterious bubble that has popped up around a lighthouse. Is it aliens?
The film has a female lead cast as does the book, and surprisingly does not try to make a point about it. Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson and Jennifer Jason Leigh all do good work here. One imagines male casting might have brought a little more intensity and conflict to the proceedings, but that’s not what this film is about. There are moments of action and terror, but it’s primarily an emotional/spiritual journey into an abstract reality. Everything inside the bubble – woman, beast or tree is being altered. It’s a mysterious film that like 2001: A Space Odyssey, refuses to give up all its secrets.
I found it reminiscent of the recent release Arrival (Amy Adams, Dir. by Denis Villeneuve). The fault in that film was in adapting an intellectual topic and trying to explain it visually. I found it to be an interesting failure. This film is similarly quiet and pensive, but it’s got an emotional core and it doesn’t try to answer everything. Annihilation succeeds at adding action and horror to the mix and it skips the neat bow at the end. So far it’s the best sci-fi film I’ve seen in 2018. If you’ve got a love for literary sci-fi or just a hankering for something without explosions check it out.
Year – 2018 | TRT – 1:55 | Directed by – Alex Garland | Written by – Alex Garland (written for the screen by), Jeff VanderMeer (based on the novel by) | Cast – Natalie Portman, Benedict Wong, Sonoya Mizuno, David Gyasi