Have you ever seen a bug zapper work? Insects are drawn to the alluring light, pulls them in closer and closer to the source of the device and when they get close enough, BOOM! The life is shocked right out of them.
Alex Garland’s newest feature Annihilation works exactly like a bug zapper! Natalie Portman stars as Lena, a soldier-scientist who signs up to discover what is happening inside an ongoing, expanding, inexplicable phenomena called The Shimmer. Lena is part of a five-person team of scientists to determine what The Shimmer is, why it formed, why nothing ever comes back from it. Once inside, everything that Lena and her team, know about the laws of nature and human sanity is turned on its head, for danger lurks around every inch of The Shimmer.
How does Annihilation work like a bug zapper? The audience are like insects, drawn to the beauty and mystery of the light of this film. As the film progresses with each passing moment, the audience is drawn in further by the mesmerizing and tantalizing visual splendor, only to be jolted by the shocking imagery and detail that strikes when least expected. This movie is designed to prey upon the audiences senses and thrill!
Just when you have a clue as to how good a filmmaker Alex Garland can be, he ups the ante by delivering a game-changing science fiction thrill ride. He has beautifully adapted Jeff VanderMeer’s gripping novel and transformed it into a feature that audiences won’t dare to forget.
The attention-to-detail, the heightened level of suspense, the pacing, the execution of the movie is utterly nailed in every detail. Garland is a filmmaker that movie buffs NEED to keep an eye because the idea of his potential is scary after watching not only Annihilation but his previous film Ex Machina as well; both are films that damn near impeccable!
Natalie Portman is superb as the soldier-scientist Lena, compelled to uncover the mystery of why her husband disappeared into the Shimmer and what happened to him. The rest of the cast including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Oscar Isaac, Benedict Wong, David Gyasi and Sonoya Mizuno are all terrific.
Garland’s suspenseful storytelling prowess is balanced equally with the overall aesthetic of Annihilation. Rob Hardy’s cinematography is so simplistic and effective in seizing the beautiful peril of the film; frame by frame is non-stop beauty and shock-and-awe. Barney Pilling’s editing is methodical, designed to disorientate the audience as the team in the film. Mark Digby’s production design is utterly outstanding, Michelle Day’s set design is superb and the art direction is jaw-dropping.
Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury’s music is tense but I feel that this movie may have been better served without a score, to truly turn the tension of the film to a higher level, but the film feeds of tension regardless. Sammy Sheldon’s costumes are solid enough for a mention as well.
Annihilation is one of those movies that not only lives up to the reputation of its creator and its acclaim, but its name as well, for this movie is designed to enchant and destroy its audience. This is another groundbreaking achievement in the sci-fi genre if you ask me!