“Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.” -Isaac Asimov
Wow… where do I begin?
From the brilliant mind of Alex Garland, writer and director of the sci-fi masterpiece Ex Machina comes the truly profound, undeniably groundbreaking Annihilation. Based on the book from author Jeff VanderMeer, Alex Garland created from the novel an adapted screenplay that is wholly unique and completely batshit insane.
A film like this is what film fans salivate over. The original film is something of a ghost these days as tentpole franchises, remakes, redos, rehashes, and redones are the real money makers anymore. The cries for originality are loud and unmistakable but it would seem they are nothing but empty demands. When movies like this or Mother come along they are met with disinterest and irrational hatred. The idea of original content seems to be more appealing than actual new properties. I fear that with this film, much in the same way Mother was met with disdain and Blade Runner 2049 was just criminally overlooked, Annihilation will be scoffed at and pushed aside for the sea of sequels and remakes that will envelope the rest of 2018.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good superhero movie or the occasional crack at remaking an oldie but what I sincerely love is the original idea. These ideas are not always golden but what every new idea made a reality have in common is the courage it took to make them. It’s easy to make Transformers 50, it’s a guaranteed money grabber (WHY?! Don’t you people have shame?!) but a film like Annihilation is a shot in the dark at a target the size of a keyhole. The room for error is virtually nonexistent. Luckily brave souls like Garland, Denis Villeneuve, and Darren Aronofsky are around to push the status quo.
I’m sure I’ve said this more times than my own name but with any great script there must be a strong cast or that great script of yours is asswipe. Natalie Portman leads a tremendous cast of strong women like Jennifer Jason Leigh who help push a bizarre but extreme storyline into strange and fascinating territory. Together they trek into a world that is both familiar and completely changed. There is a theme of duality among the most different of species. As if cross-breeding between a crocodile and a shark were commonplace or a bear-like creature that screams the shrieks of a dead, once petrified woman were nothing new. This place called The Shimmer is one of confusion and mutated horrors. Annihilation is Jurassic Park created by Stephen King if you can imagine. This is a mind trip and it will undoubtedly be one of the most divisive films of the year. I see no middle ground here, it’s a love it or hate it kind of film and oh so many are going to leave the theaters angry. (For some reason this pleases me but I honestly can’t figure out why. Maybe I’m just an asshole. Probably that. If you do hate it please enjoy your Transformers dreck and Fast & Furious shenanigans and leave the good movies for the rest of us. Your slow asses are taking up prime theater real estate. Sorry, I’m bitter.)
When this movie ended I was left in awe. I was both fascinated and confused by pretty much everything I just saw. I mean I understood it but I didn’t really understand it. Does that make any kind of sense? A possible infuriating theory to all of this is that sense has no place here. The very laws of physics and biology begin to morph and combine and expand at an alarming rate. Creatures change into other things, plants begin to take on human form, and humans delve into a realm of pure nonsensical lack of rhyme or reason. Up is down, right is left, and your brain is mush after this film is done with you.
One of my favorite kinds of sci-fi are the stories that hopskotch the line between science and horror that combine into one acid induced, mushroom laced, mind-melting journey of unimaginable nightmare fuel. I have seen a lot of messed up things in my life that have left me desensitized so when a film can shock me visually I applaud it. Annihilation is equal parts science fiction and horror film as minds lose sanity and other worldly entities terrorize not only the characters but the audience as well. I will not specify in hopes of not ruining the surprise but there is a scene in this film that is unnerving and replete with dreadful imagery that will burrow itself into the psyche of anyone who sees it. It was a scene that makes you look away and watch at the same time as you wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life. I was at once intrigued and sickened and without question constantly engaged with a glee that is normally reserved for psychopaths as they murder a neighborhood cat and bury it in the backyard. Not that I would know anything about that kind of thing…
Annihilation is an exemplary science fiction film masterpiece with prime dramatic storytelling that is complex, ambiguous (maybe infuriatingly so), powerful, stimulating, scary, and possibly scarring and it is every bit amazing because of it. I can’t outright say what this film is because to describe it would be to describe the impossible. A group of scientists journey into the unknown and discover all rules and laws of nature no longer stand and such a notion is nothing short of nightmarish. Beyond this I leave the film in shadow and simply say to anyone brave enough to watch, hold the fuck on.
Rated R For: violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality
Runtime: 115 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson
Directed By: Alex Garland
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes, absolutely.
Check out the trailer below:
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