Annihilation: Film Review

I was fuming when I read that UK audiences wouldn’t be getting Annihilation in cinemas. It felt unfair that we had to watch this effects-heavy sci-fi movie in our homes on Netflix when North America got it on the big screen. Something this good deserved a better setting than my measly TV with standard audio in my shared house to be honest.

It stars Natalie Portman as Lena, a biology professor who previously served in the military. Her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac), a military man, has been missing for more than year and is presumed dead, but then one day he shows up at their house acting all weird, having no idea how he got there and where he had been. He becomes sick and is rushed to hospital, where they are both intercepted by mysterious government figures.

They are taken to a facility near Area X, a shimmering electromagnetic field that is growing exponentially. They don’t know what’s inside but nobody has come back alive – except Kane. Lena asks to join an upcoming mission with Josie (Tessa Thompson), Anya (Gina Rodriguez), Cass Sheppard (Tuva Novotny) and Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to learn what her husband experienced inside.

Ex Machina director Alex Garland has made a very clever film that will leave you thinking for ages. I had a feeling it would be a head-scratcher because Machina was, but I wasn’t prepared for how weird it was going to get. I was able to follow it but once the lighthouse is reached things got crazy. I don’t want to spoil anything but the ending was so exciting I watched it twice (one perk of Netflix). It has taken me a while to digest, hence the late review.

I have seen some people call it slow and dull but I totally disagree. It does take a while to get going once they’re in the Shimmer but I was never bored – I was hooked, completely captivated about what was happening, interested in what we were discovering about it and excited/nervous about what was to come, because you know Lena is likely the only survivor thanks to some of her post-mission interview being at the start. I must admit I got a bit scared at times and grossed out at others (there are a few, gruesome bloody moments) and did gasp in shock twice.

I haven’t seen Portman on my screen in forever so was glad to see her back as this smart, vulnerable, strong woman. Lena was hardly ever scared and knows how to handle a gun. It’s nice and refreshing to see a group of women star in a sci-fi and that makes a difference to what goes down. They start off a strong team, with each bringing an important skill set to the mix, but tensions soon arise when they disagree about continuing or turning back when stuff starts to go down. Rodriguez is the feistiest one; a bit emotional, aggressive and out of control, Ventress doesn’t seem to be moved by anything, Sheppard is mourning a big loss, and Josie is the reserved, smart type.

I thought the script was clever, the actors were excellent and the film looked beautiful (except some dodgy CGI on the mutated creatures in the beginning) but I really enjoyed it. It engrossed me completely. I just wish I had seen it in a cinema.

Annihilation is streaming on Netflix now 

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