Movie Review: Annihilation

It’s not destroying… It’s making something new.

Annihilation is the second movie by director Alex Garland and it’s based on a novel by Jeff Vandermeer. It stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Oscar Isaac.

Natalie Portman is a biologist who signs up on a mission to investigate the shimmer, a mysterious area where the laws of nature don’t apply.


 

The Good

One way to describe this film is it’s depressingly beautiful, the movie starts of with a scene depicting the events that lead up to the creation of the shimmer and once we get into the meat of the movie and our characters get into the shimmer it’s vibrant and colourful setting is wondrous to look at. Giving us a well used visual effects that benefits the movie tremendously.

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Our leads are also good with Natalie Portman leading them, you understand their motivation as to why they want to carry out this mission. The true beauty of the film however is it’s story elements, this is a thinking person’s sci-fi and it allows the viewers to fill in the blanks. Alex Garland, who directed Ex Machina, once again created a science fiction that allows it’s audience to soak in what they’re watching and leaves them to ponder afterwards.


The Bad

This movie is a slow burn which means we get plenty of slow moving scenes with very quiet dialogue. Also being a smart sci-fi movie I can see plenty of people being bored by this and not understanding what the movie is about and it’s completely fine.


Rating

annihilation-movie-screencaps-5

Though not as intriguing or fascinating as Ex Machina, Annihilation is still a solid sci-fi flick there’s a good mixture of suspense and mystery as well as some touches of horror. At times it’s beautiful but sometimes it’s disturbing, the visual effects were used to great effect and the acting is decent. This might not be some people’s cup of tea but if you like thinking science fiction movie this might be for you.

Good Bad 3.8/5
    • The Shimmer
    • Natalie Portman
    • Great Visuals
    • Slow Pace
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Book Review: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

“There are certain kinds of deaths that one should not be expected to relieve, certain kinds of connections so deep that when they are broken you feel the snap of the link inside you”

-Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation

It’s the twelfth expedition into Area X and this time only four people were sent in, a biologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor and a psychologist. The expedition seems to be going well when the team discovered a tunnel of some sort or a tower as the biologist would call it. However this tunnel raised some questions as it was not marked on their maps as well as it is embedded into the earth. As the team try to unravel the mystery behind the tunnel they too discover secrets among themselves.

This book is a bit of a hit and miss, sometimes it’s great and really absorbing, sometimes you just can’t help but roll your eyes. That said, it’s still an interesting read. The book starts off with the biologist narrating the story. It is written in first person and I’ve always liked first person narratives so I thought it would be an engaging book. The team is composed of four women, and as mentioned before they have their own respective roles. Unfortunately the writing on them is mediocre as they are one dimensional, except for the biologist as we read through her narrative. But their personalities are bounded by their roles and we never see any character development among them.

The story is sometimes difficult to follow as a lot of it is made up of the biologist’s metaphors and internal monologues, where once it goes back to the story you might have forgotten where you left of. Another complaint is the use of words on the book, a lot of the words are hard to comprehend. For example

“why others had followed suit until it had become as inexorable as a long-ingrained ritual. By what impulse, what shared fatalism?

Unfortunately there are a lot of these phrases within the book and it does take you out of it.

The story though is intriguing there are a lot of mysteries in this book and a lot of them are unanswered, hoping the sequels will answer them, but they are exciting and it makes you want to read on. Area X is fascinating and you do want to figure out what is up with this place. A lot of the book deals with a person’s psyche as well as the horrors of hypnotism and they are played out well within the book. There are times where you are completely absorbed into a monologue or into an event only to be taken out by an unnecessary flashback.

Overall Annihilation is OK for a first book on a trilogy. It sets events up for the sequels and it leaves enough to keep you wondering what else is there. For 200 pages the book is fairly short, however with irregular pacing and confusing words the book proved to be a challenging read. Recommended for people who are into psychological thrillers.

Rating: 2.5/5