I’m torn on this.
Alex Garland’s next film film following his beloved sci-fi film Ex Machina is Annihilation, and I’m not sure what to think about it.
On one hand, the film has some really good pieces of science fiction and looks marvelous. On the other hand, Annihilation has stretches of boredom and feel too long. It has an interesting cast, but most of the characters do not receive ample development. Either the dangling plot points are areas that are open to interpretation and discussion or plot holes that the film never properly addresses.
Lena (Natalie Portman) is a biologist whose husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) disappeared a year ago and she is trying to come to grips with the loss. One night, her husband returns, but there is something wrong with him. On the way to to the hospital, they are hijacked by government agents and taken to an isolated area.
Here, Lena discovered that her husband had volunteered to lead a mission into a strange place called the Shimmer. It is an area in swamp land that is surrounded by a shimmering wall that blocks radio waves and attempts to searching within. Every attempt to go inside the Shimmer lead to everyone dying…except for one man.
Lena joined with a group of women to head into the Shimmer to try and find answers to the puzzle. The other women were played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez and Tuva Novotny.
Now the film starts off in the future with Lena telling Benedict Wong about what happened in the Shimmer. I did not like this at all because she tells you in the first five minutes exactly what happens to the other women who went into the Shimmer and it tells you that nothing was going to happen to Lena. I’m like SPOILERS, y’all. I do believe that flashback format was a mistake in story telling. Why am I going to get invested in any of these other characters if I know they are all doomed from the start?
The relationship between Oscar Isaac and Natalie Portman seemed sweet and loving…that is until it wasn’t. Let’s just say that there was something tossed into the story that felt like it was added late that did not fit with what I was seeing and felt wrong for these characters.
When the women went into the Shimmer, the first part of this was fairly tense and dramatic. There were some interesting creatures seen in the Shimmer and the scene flashing back to Oscar Isaac brandishing a knife was creepy as all get out. However, the longer they were in the Shimmer, the less interested I was.
Then the ending seemed to fall flat. It seemed as if it was painfully clear what had happened and the film just kept on dragging its feet.
Annihilation is very inconsistent. Parts of the film were wonderfully done and it was certainly beautiful to look at, but there are other areas that were too long, boring and lacking development. There will be plenty of people who find this film amazing and several others that think it is a disappointing step down after the great Ex Machina. Me? Drop me right in the middle.