Five reasons to see Annihilation
Annihilation may not be on your radar, but it should be. The new film from writer/director Alex Garland (Ex Machina) is a masterful blend of action, suspense, and mind-bending sci-fi. It arrived in theatres quietly last week, but is quickly becoming part of the zeitgeist as it earns critical and audience praise.
In the film, Natalie Portman plays Lena, an ex-military biologist whose partner, Kane (Oscar Isaac), has been missing after a secret black ops mission. It turns out that mission was to enter a phenomenon called "The Shimmer", an area in the coastal U.S. where the laws of nature have run amok after being hit by a mysterious meteorite. Lena volunteers to lead a team of scientists into The Shimmer to find answers, including the whereabouts of the previous, military-based teams.
Needless to say, once they enter The Shimmer, things escalate quickly, and what they find inside is both fascinating and terrifying. If you're looking for something truly new to watch in theatres, here's our top five reasons why you should seek out Annihilation:
We can't even begin to describe what a treat it is to see an action/sci-fi film in which the leads are all female. It's far from an all-female cast, but the main part of the movie's action is driven by the scientific exploration team of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny, led by Natalie Portman. They meet, bond over beers, and once they enter The Shimmer they rely on each other... until things go sideways. Every actress is bringing her A-game here, and watching their relationships shift and change is a bit part of what makes this film so compelling to watch.
When the laws of nature are broken down and remade in a new and different direction, you can expect the native flora and fauna to be affected, and one of the most mesmerizing aspects of Annihilation is its exploration of The Shimmer's effects on plants and animals. We don't want to give too much away here, but suffice to say that the filmmakers use real innovation in showing the innumerable possibilities when evolution takes a giant leap sideways. The predators aren't just bigger, they're insidious, and we can bet one or two will have you sleeping with the lights on afterwards!
The (very trippy) visual effects
Readers of the Southern Reach book trilogy on which the movie is based will probably have wondered how on earth The Shimmer could be rendered on-screen. Rest assured, it is as magical-looking as you'd hope! In fact, every remarkable phenomenon the team encounters on their journey looks incredible, beautiful and dangerous. We almost wished the movie were longer, so the camera could linger on some of weird and wild visuals a little longer! It's just one of the many reasons why Annihilation is best seen on the biggest screen possible, so that you can drink in every detail of the awesome visual effects.
One thing that pleasantly surprised us about the film is how suspenseful it is. The Shimmer is an expanse where the laws of nature are being rewritten moment by moment, so truly anything could happen - and often does. The movie takes such unexpected turns, it's impossible to predict the outcome of any given event or encounter. That makes it one of the most truly suspenseful movies we've ever seen.
It makes you think
The best sci-fi movies are the ones that not only thrill you and amaze you, but also make you think. This is becoming something of a specialty for director Alex Garland, as he's already given us plenty to ponder with Ex Machina, and Annihilation is true to that form. There's lots to explore philosophically in what the characters encounter inside The Shimmer and how it affects each of them individually, and frankly we love that nothing is cut-and-dried or spoon-fed to the audience. In fact, the ending is becoming something of a point of debate, as Garland has skillfully woven a satisfying conclusion while still leaving plenty open to audience interpretation.
Bonus reason: Alex Garland
For all the reasons mentioned already, Garland is considered an up-and-coming sci fi director; he firmly established his bona fides as a director with Ex Machina, and as a writer with 28 Days Later. We're sure he's got a long career ahead of him, and we can't wait to see what he tackles next!
Watch our interview with Alex Garland below and click here for tickets to see Annihilation:
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