Entertainment MOVIE REVIEW: High-concept sci-fi thriller ‘Annihilation’ a cerebral experience | The Cullman Tribune


MOVIE REVIEW: High-concept sci-fi thriller ‘Annihilation’ a cerebral experience

“Annihilation” is written and directed by Alex Garland who is perhaps best known for his award-winning 2015 sci-fi thriller “Ex Machina;” his newest film falls in the same genre. Natalie Portman stars as a biologist named Lena, who, along with a team of other scientists, volunteers to investigate an environmental phenomenon dubbed “The Shimmer.”

The Shimmer is slowly expanding and has strange effects on all life forms inside of it that Portman and her team set out to try and understand. The film starts a little slowly but quickly moves into The Shimmer where Garland’s visual style is fully put on display. The Shimmer’s effects on the environment make for some incredible set pieces and digital and practical effects involving the plant life, animals and the characters themselves. The film isn’t meant to be a horror flick, but there are a couple small moments that are truly disturbing and ramp up the intensity once you pass the run-time’s halfway point.

Portman is the lead and the standout performance, but Jennifer Jason Leigh also puts together a subtle, effective performance as the team’s leader. Oscar Isaac doesn’t have as much screen time as the female leads but is both mysterious and likeable as Lena’s husband and a soldier.

“Annihilation” really delves into some high concepts when it comes to biology and creation without giving you all the answers. Because of that, you leave the theater not sure where to begin when it comes to discussing or thinking about the film, particularly the third act. The climactic sequence keeps you completely locked in on the screen as you try to wrap your head around what is happening. Not everyone will connect with or even enjoy the ending, but there is no question that Garland is swinging for the fences.

Garland also messes around with the chronology of the film, showing us scenes taking place in the future and the past in order to give us exposition or character information as the plot progresses. There are a couple of moments where it becomes a little distracting, but for the most part it is used to good effect and gives us information without the characters just explaining things to each other and the audience.

This high-concept thriller will definitely create some mixed opinions leaving the theater, but there is no doubt it will make a lasting impression that you will remember and talk about for days and possibly weeks to come.

Griffin’s score: 4/5 stars

Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures

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