Rogue Hippo’s Review Score: 6
PLOT SUMMARY: Lena (Natalie Portman) is part of a team of scientists tasked with entering, and explaining, The Shimmer. The Shimmer is a continuously-expanding quarantine zone around the site of a meteor strike. On top of that, The Shimmer gradually alters the DNA of all who enter it; oh, and by the way, no one ever returns. Lena has returned, however; and the movie begins with Lena surrounded by a team of scientists who ask her to explain what happened while she was inside The Shimmer. She proceeds to tell them the story of what befell her team.
Wow, if you’re a sci-fi fan like me, that plot and that trailer look like they have a lot of potential! Unfortunately, the actual movie didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Lets break down the good and the bad. As usual, I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers.
- The visuals are incredible. As I mentioned before, The Shimmer is altering the DNA of plants, animals and humans which leads to a lot of visually amazing scenes. It’s an eerie and incredible world that I wish I could explore. Avatar is a dumpster fire of garish CGI compared to Annihilation, which manages to pull off the perfect balance of beauty and horror:
- The monsters are also really impressive. You get some brief glimpses of them in the trailer (the shark-gator at 1:30 and the mutated bear at 2:00). The entire bear scene is terrifying. That thing is one of the freakiest movie creatures that I’ve seen in a long time. There are some other interesting creatures that I won’t spoil for you… even a moment that gave me flashbacks to Alien.
- The acting is solid. I say “solid” because, I’ll be honest here, I’m not a connoisseur of great acting performances. By that I mean that I either notice bad acting, or I don’t notice the acting at all. Bad acting makes me think “Ugh, that was some terrible f#&$ing acting” and it just pulls me right out of the movie experience; that never happened in Annihilation so I will conclude that the acting was solid.
- I hate open endings. I won’t spoil anything for you… I will only promise you that many questions will be left unanswered when the credits roll. I get that some directors like that sort of thing, but some viewers hate that sort of thing (hint: me).
- I found the chronology to be confusing at times. Lena tells the story of her experience in The Shimmer while also having flashbacks of multiple moments in her relationship. Some of these events were either really important, or meaningless, depending on when they occurred in relation to each other which wasn’t always clear to me.
- I hate deep, hidden meanings. I get the feeling that Annihilation was going for a deep message… and I completely missed it. Was it about humanity’s self-destructive nature? Was it that we’re better off with The Shimmer than left to our own devices? I don’t know. The climax left me completely baffled as to the meaning behind actions of the two characters. I spent 3 minutes on a fan-theory website and it just gave me a headache; it’s also clear that NO ONE really knows what the message was supposed to be. Feel free to explain it too me in the comments if you think you’ve got it all figured out. I prefer the shark-gator… I can grok a shark-gator.
- It’s the kind of movie that you should probably watch twice; but it’s just not good enough to watch twice. I think that a lot things would make more sense if I watched Annihilation again… I just don’t want to.
In the end, I really enjoyed about half of Annihilation. However, the other half had too much introspection and too many hidden messages for me; and if that’s your cup of tea, great, drink it up and enjoy it. I would’ve preferred the movie equivalent of Mt. Dew Kickstart… a shallow, action-filled, gore-fest that will leave you wondering what kind of person would create such an abomination.
Until Next Time,