‘Annihilation’ flawed, but thought-provoking


“Annihilation” is a science fiction thriller following five military scientists journey through a mysterious zone called “The Shimmer” in an attempt to understand its origins. It’s the kind of film that leaves audiences questioning, “What on earth did I watch?” without giving them an easy or upfront answer to their question.


The film is intent on leaving the viewers constantly questioning and wondering about the increasingly radical conditions within “The Shimmer” while the film, through use of specifically placed details, gradually points towards the true nature of “Annihilation’s” great mystery.

The movie certainly is a slow burn, and certainly takes its time in reaching to a point of interest, coming off even as boring even up until midway. Many scenes last for far too long, are usually silent, and many times without justification for length. While the film may start slow, it begins gradually upping the pace, and by the time the film begins closing up its ramped up into a crescendo of terrifying insanity.

However, the film’s beautiful shots and gorgeous effects often make up for a scenes lack of pacing, with the film’s visuals easily being one of its most attractive features. It takes liberties populating its world with bright vibrant colors, creating an almost fairytale-like dream that can quickly become a nightmare. The CGI looks incredible, and is used effectively throughout the entire film. From the uniqueness of “The Shimmer’s” landscape, to the terrifying abominations that lurk within. The film widely varies in tone, which is occasionally used to its advantage, surprising the audience when a calm scene quickly shifts to horror. “Annihilation” is at its best during these moments, and manages to deliver on some surprisingly effective frights.

“Annihilation,” for what is an extremely niched film, sports a largely accessible mainstream cast, starring Natalie Portman, and featuring known talent such and Benedict Wong or Oscar Isaac. Natalie Portman as Lena and Oscar Isaac as Cane are certainly the better two actors on screen, but are dragged down by an extremely uninteresting cast of characters.

The other four scientists, Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Anya Thorensen (Gina Rodriguez), Cass Sheppard (Tuva Novotny), and Josie Radek (Tessa Thompson) are easily one of the worst parts of the film. This is no fault of the actors however, as their characters are hardly established outside a short introductory conversation.

The most development that is given to the rest of the scientists is simply having Lena be told their backstories in a short scene of rushed exposition. The film fails at making audiences care for these characters during potential dangers and conflicts when viewers have been given nothing about them and all these characters largely have the same dry dialogue.

This is easily the film’s greatest failure, and one that could’ve been fixed if another thirty minutes had been allocated to character development, and instead cut short some early scenes that were unreasonably slow-paced. “Annihilation” is based off a book of the same name from Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach Trilogy,” so if there is ever a sequel this would be the problem to fix, as this alone held the film back from being much greater.

While the film for many could easily be one of the more impressive thought-provoking science fiction films to come out this year, it could easily be a boring confusing slog with an ending that makes even less sense. While I thought this films high’s certainly exceeded its lows and provided a unique and immersive experience, I would be very cautious before advocating that the average movie goer watches it, as “Annihilation” is certainly is not a film for everyone.

“Annihilation” has a runtime of two hours and the film is Rated R for violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality.