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March 28, 2018

Annihilation (2018) --- "A Girl Ventures Into The Unknown To Uncover Her Husband's Disappearance But She Uncovers Will Blow Your Mind."

Plot Summary
Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and Oscar Isaac. It was written and directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later).(1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Based off the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, directed & written by Alex Garland, and starring a horde of actors – including Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, and Oscar IsaacAnnihilation (2018) is the newest sci-fi thriller flick with a complex and thought-provoking story that is dark and bizarrely beautiful.

     Director & Writer Alex Garland made an impressive impact in film history with his debut film Ex Machina (2015) and he has a talent for creating sci-fi films that are thought-provoking and visually impressive. Annihilation has a very complex story and the only advice that I have to say is stick with it. This is not a film where you can watch will playing on your phone, if you leave without pausing or you get distracted by outside sources then you will no doubt missing a few important details.
     The story is intellectual and emotional but it is also instinctive and primitive, similar to the world inside The Shimmer. Everything is a mystery from beginning to end, and the underlying tone of the film reveals that there are things beyond our comprehension and trying to compare them to what we already know is illogical. The film’s suspense never seems to dissipate which leaves you anticipating and slightly frightened for the next step. The ending is more of an intellectual finale than a spectacular action battle scene. The ending also leaves us with some unanswered which is probably why some viewers didn’t like the film. What are different ways we self-destruct? How can we self-destruct without even noticing it? However what at first seems like destruction or annihilation is actually just the evolution into something better, something new.
     The story is also hauntingly beautiful that is especially highlighted by an equally haunting score and breathtaking visuals. The world within the Shimmer is just as terrifying and mysterious as it is rich and beautiful. It explores a world that pushes our imagination and the soundtrack only further enhances the visuals. There were haunting guitar riffs and strings that slowly become distorted with perfect use of the Crosby, Stills & Nash song "Helplessly Hoping", which is not something one would expect from a sci-fi film. The casting is just as solid.
     Natalie Portman (Jackie) is one of my all-time favorite actresses and once again she delivers a solid performance that manages to stand out against the engulfing nature of the film’s environment. She plays the brilliant and conflicted biologist perfectly and portrays a wide range of emotions that demonstrates how people try to rationalize the impossible. Oscar Isaac (SW: Last Jedi) manages to dominate practically every one of his films and this is one no exception. Although he has very few scenes and dialogue the few moments we see him demonstrates his charisma and versatility as an actor. The rest of the cast is also great. Tessa Thompson (Creed) is great and offers a few solid scenes that are somewhat-solo, Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight) plays the psychologist on a mission to succeed where many have failed perfectly, and it is great to see Gina Rodriguez (Deepwater Horizon) play the macho female war hero this time. As the film progresses, both Jennifer and Gina give way to a character that is much darker and sadder.

     Overall, Annihilation (2018) is a profound masterpiece where Under the Skin (2013) meets Predator (1987). The visuals are stunningly beautiful and the story is emotionally intellectual as it illustrates a person’s weaknesses in face of the unknown and our sadly ingrained self-destructive tendencies. It demonstrates that suicidal outcomes and self-destructive outcomes are different but are prone to producing the same results. The difference is that one is a conscious choice while another is subconsciously ingrained. If you enjoyed the complexity and thoughtfulness of Arrival then you will no doubt enjoy this one as well.

“The mutations were subtle at 1st; more extreme as we got closer to the lighthouse. Corruptions of form. Duplicates of form. Echoes. Sometimes it was beautiful.”
- Lena

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  9.3 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  9.3 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
12 Monkeys (1995)
28 Days Later (2003)
28 Weeks Later (2007)
6th Day, The (2000)
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001
Arrival (2016)
Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner 2049 (2018)
Decent, The (2005)
Ex Machina (2015)
Fountain, The (2006)
Her (2013)
In Time (2011)
Interstellar (2014)
Island, The (2005)
It Follows (2015)
Life (2017)
Looper (2012)
Morgan (2016)
Place Beyond the Pines, The (2013)
Solaris (2002)
Surrogates (2009)
Transcendence (2014)
Thing, The (1982)
Under the Skin (2014)

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