I got to see Annihilation, and it was pretty great. It wasn’t perfect. It does have some flaws, but it is genuinely smart science fiction that does what the SJWs are saying film doesn’t ever do. A movie starring five smart, capable women who are in STEM and who have a ton of personality without all being bland stereotypes. The type of thing that every social justice moron should be singing from the hills about it being an accomplishment in film, but not only is nobody talking about it, but nobody has seen it either. A fact that depresses me to no end. Let’s talk about it.
The film follows Natalie Portman as a ex-Army, current researching at Johns Hopkins. Her husband has gone missing in a very poorly paced opening, but then shows up again, very different. After he has some hardcore organ failure, she is brought into a mysterious event where a meteorite had crashed into Earth and now there is a weird effect called The Shimmer. Desperate to get answers to save her husband, she embarks on what is understood to be a suicide mission with four other women, all of whom are aware of just how precarious their situation is. Each has their own motivation and as they get closer to the source of The Shimmer, it becomes clear that they are going to be tested as people, scientists, and the bonds they can make with each other.
It’s so nice to see smart science fiction. It really is. We have so much absolute garbage like Life, which is just a rip-off of Alien. We have the endless amount of big-budget blockbuster dreck that is either very generic like Black Panther, or outright terrible like Justice League. But just like Blade Runner 2049, we have a film that is genuinely great and nobody is going to see it. This film’s numbers are in the tank. It will add its name to the pantheon of films that are smart, well-crafted, and nobody fucking saw. It pisses me off to no end.
The things this film got right – the slow-burn pace, the fantastic science elements that they explore, and the atmosphere. Not to mention the really smart use of theme. This film is able to do visual story-telling to such great extent, and only a few times does it feel like it is overplaying its hand, and one of those times is in the very end and it does damage this film to me a little just because it feels like the film thinks it is WAY smarter than it actually is in that moment. But there was so much great stuff leading up to that which hooked me from beginning to end.
We also have the performances. I loved almost every character in this movie. This film is proof that Natalie Portman is a very good actress if she just has the right director. Give her the right person and she can turn in a truly fantastic performance. But the cast with her was pretty great too. Everyone had their own reasons, and you learn more and more about those reasons as you go along. The film doesn’t just tell the audience why they are the way they are. You have to learn it as you go along. Well-written, well-acted female characters, all of whom are leads, all of whom play characters who are capable. The fact that the social justice community is radio silent about this while screaming the praises of yet-another cookie-cutter Marvel film is beyond me.
But the science was the highlight of the film. The Shimmer has this effect on all of the life inside of it that is both fascinating, and terrifying. Part of the effect of this place led to one of the most terrifying scenes in any film I have ever seen. Bar none, it scared the shit out of me. It has such perfect build-up, and when it happens you are left feeling trapped with the characters. Listening to the characters talk about their observations of The Shimmer and the effect it is having on everything inside is genuinely interesting and it makes me sad that it only goes for so long.
Then there’s the fact that this may be the first film about alien life that I think feels like an alien life since I saw Arrival. You have the story being told cut in with scenes in the present asking Natalie Portman’s character what the meaning of it all is, and she has the same response over and over again – I don’t know. Throughout it all, the designs of this alien entity and what it was trying to do is a complete mystery. Right up to the climax of the film you still don’t get what it was trying to do. I love that. So many films hold your hand and feel the need to explain everything to you because they think you’re stupid, but not this one. It’s great. Gee, maybe that’s why it’s failing at the box office. Because America is stupid.
As I said, though, there are problems. One of which is the fact that there are a couple scenes where you can tell that characters are aiming at things that aren’t really there. A trailer scene about the crocodile attack is a really good scene, but when Natalie Portman’s character is shooting at it, you can see her weapon going off not pointing at where the target is supposed to be. It’s almost Starship Troopers levels of off. I will say that it’s nice to have a scene where people are shooting guns and you have casings hitting the floor. It’s such a pet peeve for me in films when people are shooting and you don’t see or hear any bullet casings. Next, the very, very end of the film is nowhere near as smart as it thinks it is. I’ve heard so many people saying that it’s so mysterious, but it’s not. And the discourse bugs me.
I’ve talk about how this film is basically dead at the box office, and it bugs me. I hate that we have these films that are dumb blockbusters that are making huge money. We’ve seen that blockbusters don’t always have to be stupid. We’ve seen that not all Marvel films have to be stupid. But they are. It’s a bummer how much dumb cinema has taken over, and you have all this direct-to-Netflix stuff that runs the gamut from smart that nobody will see to shit that they knew wouldn’t get a release anywhere else. The days of smart cinema are number, and it hurts me inside.
Overall, this is a really good movie that I cannot recommend enough. If you are like me and are tired of the same rehashed shit, over and over again, you owe it to yourself to see this film. You really do. That’s all I got for you. Now you make your choice.
8 out of 10