It Came from Outer Space!: Annihilation
Annihilation isn't as Mind-Bending as it Thinks
Alex Garland hit the film world in 2015 with Ex Machina, a mature and thoughtful science fiction film that I didn't seem to be as impressed with as everyone else. His second feature, Annihilation is also sci-fi, also tries to ask some very deep questions, and has again left me underwhelmed.
The film stars Natalie Portman as a biologist and ex-soldier who joins up with a team of fellow scientists on a mission into a mysterious phenomenon known only as "The Shimmer," which has landed off the coast of Florida three years ago and is now slowly expanding. The team must get to the center of The Shimmer, find out what happened to the other teams who went in and never came back, and try to find a way to stop The Shimmer's expansion before it eventually consumes the planet.
The film has clearly taken some inspiration from Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker and like that film, it tries to be a mind-bending, reality-altering experience. However, it is far more straightforward a film than it thinks it is. Aside from a few interesting questions about the correlation between creation and destruction, it's far more interested in straight sci-fi/horror spectacle than any deeper philosophical probing. That being said, the film is full of some incredible imagery (both beautiful and horrifying), there are plenty of tense, downright scary sequences and at times some truly stomach-churning violence. Annihilation is a weird little film, but I think it could have afforded to get even weirder. — Forest Taylor
Written and directed by: Alex Garland, based on the novel by Jeff Vandermeer // Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and Oscar Isaac // 115 minutes