July 3, 2018


The sci-fi thriller, "Annihilation," starring Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac, starts off intriguingly. Lena is a  woman whose soldier-husband is sent on a secret mission--and goes missing. But Lena, a biologist, makes the case that she should go in search of him. There are lots of unanswered questions from the get-go. Was he unfaithful? Did he go insane? What happened to all the other soldiers who go on this same mission and never return?

The secret mission is to investigate a remote part of Earth that seems to be taken over by an alien force. An area that is ever growing and in which the laws of physics don't apply. Lena finds traces and  belongings of former explorers, including a video of her husband, who's obviously in distress. The suspense only grows in this fantastical but hostile world.

"Annihilation" was directed by Alex Garland, who also directed the stunning, flawless and haunting "Ex Machina" for which Alicia Vikander should have gotten an Academy Award, but I digress. However, Garland's directing and/or the cinematography and/or editing in "Annihilation" has a hokey quality. There's just something hard to buy into about it. We never "get lost" ourselves in the world he's created--as moviegoers should.

But the ending. Oh dear. The filmmakers saved the worst for last. I'm not going to do a spoiler because the film already spoiled itself. All I will say is: trite, "been done before," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," and do you like "mime"? Do you like ROBOT mime?" I didn't think so. Me neither. But now I've probably made you SO curious that you WILL watch "Annihilation." Don't say I didn't warn you.

P.S. I think this movie was simply a vehicle for testing out some new CGI technology (like the appalling "Polar Express"). There really is no other explanation or excuse.

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