Annihilation   review by Bobby Blakey

Director Alex Garland blew audiences away with Ex Machina so fans have been eager to see what he had coming up next. With his latest film Annihilation he is bringing along Natalie Portman who continues to take on diverse roles alongside a great cast including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and Oscar Isaac, but does it have the ability to become something more than just another flick or will it fail to find its place in this world?

Annihilation follows a biologist's who puts her name forward for an expedition into an environmental disaster zone alongside an anthropologist, a psychologist, a surveyor and a linguist after her husband disappears, but does not find what she's expecting. This story is based on Jeff VanderMeer’s best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, but my understanding isn’t a direct adaptation. I have never read the book so outside of the trailer headed into this film pretty fresh. The story is crafted in a different way than I had expected which is a good thing and so much more than I had thought it would be. There is a very slow burn to this film as opposed to the action that some parts of the trailer lets on, but for me it made it all the better. The story is complex without being overly complicated and has elements that not only make you think, but can leave some to your own opinions.

Portman is great here bringing a stoic yet emotional struggle to the role that matches to perfection with the character journey. She is not some sort of badass that just happens to be convenient to the story, but a person with skills that help her make the best of it. The rest of the cast all do a great job as well with Tessa Thompson coming off her bad ass character in Thor: Ragnarok to bring a more cerebral character that brings the simplistic yet important brains to the mission. One of my personal favorites was Gina Rodriguez who puts on the tough exterior and brings the muscle to the group without being forced to be manly. She carries herself differently than the rest, but still brings not only the common sense to the group, but also one of the better arcs of them all.

Jennifer Jason Leigh is great in her role as well bringing more mystery and obsession that is needed to round the team out. I was worried that the use of an all-female unit was going to feel forced just going with the current climate to make something acceptable, but I was so happy to see how it worked with the story and evolved into something all its own. The most underused of the cast would be that of Oscar Isaac which was a disappointment, but his moments are some of the more important for the bigger picture and needed to bring it full circle. The visuals are mesmerizing throughout bringing a dark beauty to it all. Seeing the ideals and directions used to convey this story makes the surrounds a character all its own. With every direction they go it offers something more to see from the small to the large. It is the prime example of the dangers of something beautiful making for a treat to the senses that will be easily remembered.   

I personally loved the strange ending to it all, but can see how this is the part that may throw some people off. So many times they go the normal Hollywood ending to please the fans or spoon feed you the information, but here is takes its own journey and makes for a memorable unique ending that I think made the entire rest of the movie worth the slow journey. This is a movie that I think you will either love completely or struggle with connecting to it just in the way it is structured, but after letting it sit and stir within my mind I have to agree with a lot of the comments out there that it is a piece of science fiction brilliance that hope connects with a  lot of people and gets the praise it deserves.

This release offers up not only the feature, but also bonus features including featurettes that take you behind bringing this science fiction feature to the big screen. Step into the Shimmer of Annihilation available now on Digital and then on Blu-ray and DVD May 29th from Paramount Home Entertainment.

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