By Daniel Occelli (Mexico City)
After the almost flawless Ex-Machina, visionary director Alex Garland comes back with another sci-fi masterpiece, this time on a slightly bigger scale with Annihilation.
After the loss of his husband, biologist Lena goes on a suicide mission in northern Florida, where a meteor crash aftermath starts completely shifting the environment in its surroundings. The film stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac and Natalie Portman.
When I first heard about this film, I was mesmerized, I couldn’t wait a day to see it on the big screen, the effects and the cinematography looked stunning just in pictures which made me stay away from every trailer they released for this movie, that’s why finding out Netflix bought the rights to the film and preventing it from getting a World Wide release infuriated me, Paramount was not only disrespectful to Alex Garland, they were also disrespectful to every member of the cast and crew and to every human being, saying the film was too smart for general audiences to get it, NEWSFLASH, we need more films like that, Arrival was a huge Box Office success and the fact that they pulled the plug on a film that was pretty similar in its core made me really angry. But today we are not here to discuss the film as a business move, today we are here to discuss why the film should’ve been given a chance to be in theaters since it is as of now the best film of 2018 and one of the best sci-fi’s of recent memory.
2016 had Arrival, 2017 had Blade Runner 2049 and now we have Annihilation, a film that may look like an action, horror sci-fi on the outside, with huge alligators and bears, and meteors crashing on earth, but in reality the film is a much deeper study on self-destruction, and the humanity behind it, lead flawlessly by an all-female cast with amazing performances, especially by Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the film itself looks amazing, the cinematography is as colorful as it is pale, I know it is a weird way to describe it but it is almost dreamlike, the way Rob Hardy uses light and shadows is amazing, some shots inside the Shimmer and of the Shimmer itself are breathtaking and the effects are just stunning. The music is beautiful in every scene, the use of the soft guitar in scenes like the meteor crash and the use of Moderat’s The Mark was as scary as it was mesmerizing.
What I loved most about Annihilation was the directing of the film, and the script, the way Alex Garland tells this story, how it evolves, the narration aspect works great because we know as much as our lead character, making the plot twists and climax much more effective, the way the science in the film is explained is very subtle with no unnecessary exposition, it never doubts the audience’s intelligence like the studio did, and don’t get me wrong, the film is not easy to follow, but looking back on it, everything you need to know is said or referred to in one way or another, which tells us a lot about the writers and their incredible script.
As for negatives I couldn’t find a lot, but the pacing can be an issue before we get to The Shimmer, once inside, the movie never stops, I was at the edge of my seat for the whole second and third act, but the first act can drag a bit, especially knowing nothing and understanding even less than that, the movie sets up a lot of questions and takes it’s time to answer them, this is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that the film will get better upon reaching. I was also a bit disappointed wit Oscar Isaac’s performance for most of the film, but he really comes around in his last scene with amazing acting and a heartbreaking delivery.
I will give Annihilation a 9.2/10 and I would strongly recommend it to every sci-fi fan out there, it’s out on Netflix, go check it out.