Buckle your seatbelts and get ready to enter the unknown in Alex Garland’s new science fiction thriller, Annihilation. *SPOILERS AHEAD*
Loosely based on the successful novel by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation follows a grieving biologist, Lena (Natalie Portman) whose husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac), has disappeared on a covert mission. Out of nowhere, a very confused Kane returns home and begins to cough up blood. As he is being rushed to the hospital, the two are taken by government officials to Area X, where Kane is quarantined. Lena then learns of her husband’s mission to explore a mysterious location known as “the Shimmer”, where no one has returned – except for Kane. Determined to discover what has happened to her husband, Lena joins a group of scientists (Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez and Tuva Novotny) to uncover the fascinating and terrifying mysteries of the Shimmer.
If you are looking for a film that is challenging, mind-blowing, and visually stimulating, you have come to the right place. Garland has created an exhilarating and immersive film experience that demolishes the Bechdel test.
Annihilation is not a passive thriller – in fact, Annihilation requires your concentration. Yes, there are monstrous creatures, jump scares and alien entities, however, it is one of the more compelling and ambitious science fiction films in recent years despite a frustrating film structure and some minor pacing issues.
At the core of Annihilation, is a deep dive into human nature’s primal urge to destroy itself. We see this urge in different forms both through the protagonists’ flaws and through the Shimmer itself. Through this self-destruction, we find ourselves with something new, something different – no matter how good or how bad, we are not the same after we destroy what we have created. This haunting theme alone is disturbing enough and sticks with audiences well after the credits finish rolling.
Final Thoughts: Despite minor flaws, Annihilation is a visceral, cerebral and intelligent puzzle that will challenge audiences.