Annihilation: Full Review
(Some Spoilers. Be Warned)
Annihilation is the latest picture from writer/director, Alex Garland. An up and coming filmmaker with a talent for writing and directing strange and ambiguous science-fiction films such as Ex Machina. His most recent film is based off a novel, starring Natalie Portman, Oscar Issac, and Jennifer Jason Lee. After a meteor crash lands somewhere around Florida, striking a lighthouse, a rainbow-like dome starts to form in the area and expand. It is eventually dubbed, "The Shimmer."
Portman plays, Lena. A biologist who met her husband, Kane (Issac) in the Army. After he ships away for a mission and is presumed dead after a year of not returning or hearing from him, Kane miraculously returns. Sensing that he is not himself, Lena and Kane are taken back to the government facility know as, Area X. It is just outside The Shimmer, and a team of four women, all scientist, are collected to go inside to find out what happened to the previous group that went in and never returned, expected for Kane of course. Lena, curious about what happened to her husband, and driven by guilt, reasons I won't spoil, but you can take a guess, she decides to join the team and explore The Shimmer to get the answers she desperately needs.
Inside the glittering organism, growing more and more by the day, the women find beauty and horrors straight out of nightmares. The organism acts as a cancer. Mutating and scrambling the cells and DNA of every creature and plant life that is inside of it. It is an un-malicious force, refracting our bodies, mutating them like a foreign virus looking to take over without intent, just trying to survive.
This story can also be interpreted as a look at our internal and self-destructive nature. The Shimmer represents the struggle that we all face in our lives. All of the team members are haunted by their past. One has lost loved one, the second struggled with addiction, the third team member has self-inflected wounds, Ventress (Lee), the team leader is sick, and as mentioned, Lena is haunted by guilt based on past choices. Within The Shimmer, the challenges and monsters they face can be an embodiment of their internal demons. They can either overcome it, or be consumed by it.
Either way, Annihilation awaits us all. Even if we do survive whatever challenges we face, we never come out the same. We are forever changed, the person that you once were is forever gone. Evolution is a part of life. That is what director, Alex Garland does so well. As great as the visuals might be, the story is open to many interpretations, creating discussion and debate. A story that leaves you thinking long after it's over about what every shot meant, every frame. Why each character made certain decisions, and you start to think, would you have done different? In all of that, you might discover a little bit about yourself, and why we do things we do in life.
Annihilation comes highly recommended. We give it four stars, and we suggest you see it in theaters now, before it is gone. I mean you can always rent it on Netflix, but it's just not the same.