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Natalie Portman is a biologist, and former soldier. Exactly one year ago, her husband, played by Oscar Isaac, went into a mysterious, mutated area called “the shimmer” and disappeared. Everyone thinks he’s dead, until, one day, out of nowhere, he shows up on Portman’s door, deeply ill. She learns from a psychologist, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, that he was part of a reconnaissance mission sent into “the shimmer” to find out just what it is, and that, to date, he is the only person to return. Upon hearing that there will be a new team sent into the area, Portman volunteers, for some reason, and she and the group venture forth into “the shimmer” where they encounter all kinds of crazy shit, including mutated plants, mutated crocodiles, and even mutated bears.
Annihilation is a film that, on paper, I should love. It’s a sci-fi movie, with an all-female cast, and some very interesting visuals. In practice, however, I found the film to be boring, pretentious, and surprisingly hollow. Then again, this film is written and directed by Alex Garland, the man behind Ex Machina, a movie that, if you’ve read my blog, you know I REALLY didn’t care for. Luckily, this picture doesn’t have nearly as much unintentional racism as that movie. It’s still not good, though, and a lot of it has to do with the way Garland helms the film. He directs all his actors to say every line in as slow and serious a manner as possible, and there’s barely a moment in this movie where anyone smiles, or acts like a human. This is especially true with Jennifer Jason-Leigh’s character, who, to the best of my recollection, never shows the slightest trace of emotion in anything she says. Granted, her character is supposed to be very repressed and mysterious, but there’s a way to convey those things in a manner that is interesting. As it is, she just comes off as dull and lifeless. On top of that, the character’s make serious, life or death decisions in this movie that don’t really make sense. Portman, for instance, decides to go into “the shimmer” because, according to her, she owes her husband. Owes him what? A cure? A life? An answer? The film tries to explain this away by showing how she had an affair, but, the truth is, if she was really sad, and just wanted to kill herself, why go through all the headache of an expedition. Why not just take some sleeping pills? Oh wait, I know. Because we wouldn’t have a movie otherwise. And, finally, the characters just aren’t very interesting. You know next to nothing about them, and they are all so bland that none of them sticks out. Well, that’s not true. Gina Rodriguez stands out, because, in addition to having the funniest dialogue, she shows some actual emotion. I guess Garland couldn’t dampen her spirit. On top of that, she’s the only one who reacts like a normal person when all the crazy shit starts happening. She’s the one who says, “hey, maybe we should leave.” But everyone else just looks at her with their dead, monotone eyes, and says, “No, we have to stay. For science.” I’m not joking when I say that after Gina died, I lost all interest in the movie.
Guys, don’t go watch Annihilation. Yes, it has admirable qualities, like an all-female cast and some truly impressive visuals. And, yes, it is a bit smarter, or, at least, it thinks it is, than your average horror movie. But the characters are uninteresting, the acting, with the exception of Gina Rodriguez, is wooden, and the pace is SLOW. You want my advice, treat yourself to something more exciting, like Black Panther, or funny, like Game Night. This flick ain’t worth your time.