Annihilation Movie Review


Jake Ditto, Staff Writer

Annihilation will set the standard for sci-fi films to come. Writer and director Alex Garland follows up his amazing film Ex Machina with an even better one that is both beautiful and thought provoking.

Annihilation follows Lena (Natalie Portman) as she and her team of scientists go into the shimmer (a transparent wall, and inside that wall are many extravagant plants and animals) after her husband (Oscar Isaac) is on his deathbed, after recently coming out of the shimmer. When anything enters the shimmer it is changed in a physical way, which is anything from it’s DNA to how it actually looks.

While watching this film I couldn’t stop thinking about 2001: A Space Odyssey, not because of how alike this is to that film, but how this was the first sci-fi film i’ve seen that hasn’t taken something from 2001 and added it to its story. Like other sci-fi masterpieces, like Alien, this is a movie that in time will be hailed as one of the greats.

This film is great because of what Garland does behind the camera. He is able to make a film that can be interpreted in many ways, while being entertaining to watch. There are many different themes that Garland could possibly be trying to express in this film, and what makes this great is that he never gives a straight answer as to what the themes are. He is making the audience think about what they saw, and will make you watch it again.

This film is as beautiful as it is disturbing. Everything in the shimmer is magnificent and full of color. There is even a disturbing part where  there is a dead body torn in half and stuck to the side of a wall—an oddly pleasant sight to see. Similar imagery is shown throughout that leaves you in awe and makes you really appreciate what you are watching. Garland also has numerous original and fascinating ideas. For example, in the latter half of the film there is a scene with a mutated bear that I won’t spoil, but when seeing what Garland created, my mouth dropped and I was fascinated when I saw what that bear continued on to do.

As in all of her roles, Natalie Portman gives a great performance. She is subtle throughout most of the film, but shows a great deal of emotion when necessary. Within five minutes of the film I cared about her and felt terrible for her. We see her longing for her husband, who she hasn’t seen in one year. The events that follow directly after are sold by Portmans terrific performance.

Mainly because of the third act, which wraps up the movie in a beautiful, thought-provoking way is why this film is causing controversy. This is the type of ending that will make half of the viewers think that they are watching a terrible movie, while the other half will think that they are watching something wholly original and truly special. To prove this point, that exact thing happened while watching this movie. I could hear people behind me saying that it was stupid, but while walking out of the theater, I heard another couple talk about what they thought it all meant.

I have only one very small issue with this movie. There is a scene where Portman’s group is watching a video from a camera that was left behind from the previous group that was in the shimmer. While watching the disturbing video, something caught my eye, which was that the video they were watching was edited with multiple different shots being cut together. The problem is that you can’t edit a video from a camera. It is a small problem, but it happens again later on in the film.

Annihilation is an amazing piece of cinema that will be discussed for years, but if you go to watch this you will either love or hate the mind-bending third act.


Grade: A