In 2014, a book titled, “Annihilation” opened in bookstores worldwide along with the sequels titled “Authority” & “Acceptance” as part of “The Southern Reach Trilogy.” A year before the books were published, movie studio “Paramount Pictures” bought the movie rights for the trilogy. The studio focused on adapting Annihilation, the first installment of the trilogy. Novelist/Filmmaker, Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Dredd, Ex Machina) was recruited to write & direct the film. Notable big names such as Natalie Portman, (one of my favorite actresses) Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez & Oscar Isaac signed on to participate in this project.
After a two year gap of writing, filming & editing all the juicy details, Paramount distributed the movie in American theaters & released it exclusively on Netflix from international countries. According to Paramount, audience members at a test screening disliked the film, because it was way too intellectual & complex. I think it was the reason why Paramount only released it in American theaters instead of a worldwide opening in many countries.
Annihilation was released in 2018. It received mixed to positive reviews from critics and movie goers alike. Despite warm reception, the film made $43 million at the box office failing to recoup its $40-55 million budget. Former U.S. President, Barack Obama listed Annihilation as one of his favorite films of 2018. As of today, Paramount has not confirmed if a sequel to Annihilation is in development. Maybe they’re keeping details under wraps or possibly scrapped a second entry due to underperforming at the box office.
Before “The 91st Academy Awards” air on February 24th, I want to share my real thoughts on one of my favorite movies of 2018. Sometime in the future, I’ll do a Top 12 Films Of 2018 editorial on my favorite films of the past year.
The following review doesn’t contain any potential SPOILERS. If you never ever ever got a chance to watch this movie, feel free to read my non-spoiler article.
Alive & Dead Aspects
Alive: The Main Cast such as Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez & Oscar Isaac all did a fantastic job for their respective performances.
Fun Fact: Both Natalie & Oscar appear in the “Star Wars” franchise, but in separate trilogies. Wait a second! Both of them play an onscreen couple, which means Kylo Ren is gonna be mortified. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’re probably gonna get the joke.
Alex Garland did a great job writing & directing the film.
Scare Factor felt authentic lacking Jump Scares. Like “John Carpenter’s The Thing,” the actual bone chilling atmosphere is paranoia.
Death Scenes were realistic. One in particular is pretty nasty. If you have a weak stomach, bring a barf bag.
The film lacked overused Horror Cliches. I would assume that the main characters watched Wes Craven’s “Scream” with Jamie Kennedy’s character, Randy Meeks knows every single trope from the horror genre. If not, perhaps they watched “Malibu’s Most Wanted.” Ya know that one scene with B-Rad (a wannabe rapper) yelling in a movie theater while watching a scary movie.
When I saw a preview for Annihilation, I thought it was gonna be a rip-off of “Stargate” or “Atlantis: The Lost Empire,” As I watched the whole movie, I was surprised that Annihilation wasn’t a cheap knock-off of Stargate & Atlantis.
Special Effects features Practical Effects & C.G.I. were pragmatically used to build The Shimmer’s environment, creatures & atmosphere. I’m giving the effects team Bonus Points for making the world believable.
Don’t expect this movie to be an all out action movie, it’s actually a cross between John Carpenter’s The Thing & “Predator.”
My favorite part of the film has something to do with “somebody” screaming. I have no choice but to give this pro an Extra Point.
Cinematography felt normal lacking technical flaws throughout.
Musical Score reminded me of the video game “The Last Of Us.”
The film’s primary themes center around Disease, Mankind, Humanity, Loss & Dehumanization.
Benedict Wong (Dr. Strange’s sidekick) also appears and he did a good job for his performance.
Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character is named, Ventress. Wait just a gosh darn minute! Natalie Portman was in The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy. In “The Clone Wars,” Asaji Ventress is Count Dooku’s apprentice. Looks like somebody been watching Star Wars! I bet a crew member snickered when somebody mentioned Ventress.
A Plot Twist occurred. Thank goodness M. Night Shyamalan wasn’t involved in the film to include water as a weakness from “Signs.”
I can’t tell you about The Ending. You will have to see for yourself.
To be honest with you fellas, I wasn’t confused on the lore behind The Shimmer, technology, themes etc. I’m used to seeing thought provoking movies related to anything by Christopher & Jonathan Nolan. As a Nolanite, (fan name for The Nolan Brothers) I understand complicated mind bending aspects. Sometimes they can be a pain in the butt. If you have the patience like I do, make sure you pay close attention.
Dead: Without giving too much away, the motivation behind The Shimmer can be very puzzling. I couldn’t understand why.
The Final Verdict: A-
Annihilation is a decent yet thought provoking sci-fi horror thriller that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. All the positive elements I’ve listed, indicates why this underrated gem is a breath of fresh air. If you have nothing to do over the week, I highly recommend this movie.