Annihilation: Evolving Very Slowly into Something Unique
I mean what can I say about this movie? It’s one of those movies that when you have a spoiler discussion with someone – one person tends to say something along the lines, “You just didn’t get it”.
This makes it hard to critique it unless one feels the need to take a course in Annihilamonty and I. Don’t. Think. It’s. Worth. The. Effort.
So we follow Lena (Natalie Portman), a former soldier and present biologist, who was forced to deal with the disappearance of her husband Kane, played by Oscar Isaac. Kane is a soldier who was given the mission to investigate an alien phenomenon nicknamed…. the Shimmer *cue techno reverbs*. He shows up a year later barely alive, now Lena decides she must join this woman-only team to venture the Shimmer as well. Now to the movie’s credit, it does often have calculated layers of scenes that, at first, seem random. We dance back and forth between the dangers of her past, her presence in the Shimmer, and fear of her uncertain future. These visions cleverly help us connect the threads of the overlaying theme of Annihilation.
I often hear the world rave about the beauty of ….the Shimmer *cue techno reverbs*. I was a little underwhelmed by it. To me, it was often just a sparkly forest and with an ever-present sheen over everything. The movie wanted to make it clear that the deeper they go into the Shimmer, the more alien and warped the world becomes… I mean I guess? I never felt they reached a part that screamed, “we should turn back”. Yet at the same time, the Shimmer never felt safe. It may not have presented scenery that was “horrific” per se, but it does unsettling atmosphere really well. It was ultimately the well-crafted situations and creatures they encountered, that more or less gave the team pause (one creature, in particular, was terrifyingly brilliant).
Speaking of the team, they never truly explained why there was a team of just women going in. I mean, if we’re assuming that the world is hostile since no one comes out of it, I couldn’t fathom why a team of mostly non-military trained women are going in, expecting better results. Reasoning aside, the actors all did their part well and showed us broken but real people. We see many shades of each of them throughout their journey. Each individual demonstrated their own personal weaknesses, and the mission was testing them, so for those who couldn’t… well Couldn’t*cue techno reverbs*.
I’m keeping this vague as to not spoil so I’ll say this: if you like cerebral type movies, this may be your thing.
The problem is while the movie contains many metaphors and allegories which are interesting to discuss, it only presents a theme rather than a statement.
To some, that’s impressive enough but for myself, I needed all of the slow pacing and character development to lead to a point. It’s akin to making a book about how brushing your teeth is love, and how bacteria can break up love. Then if I showed toothpaste coming to keep the teeth clean- you could guess where I was going with that, now you’re wondering what the message behind the theme… Then I say, “There is none, I just wanted to tether dental hygiene to love in my story… Done.” Now I’m not trying to belittle the brightness of this movie but I was hoping for that gut-punch after sitting with it for all this time and then, it just ever-so-hopelessly ends. Hopes dashed, excitement destroyed, and all intrigued… Annihilated*cue techno reverbs*!