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8/10
Atmospheric
cherold8 June 2018
After watching this film I read the reviews voted "most helpful," which all were long lists of plot holes and logical inconsistencies. They are absolutely right. I didn't think about it while watching the film, but when it's pointed out, yeah, nothing in this movie makes much sense.

But I still really liked it. It's creepy and atmospheric and more concerned with the psychology of people on a suicide mission than on the nuts and bolts of scientific investigation. It's often intense , usually beautiful, well acted, and had some really weird and mesmerizing moments.

I won't argue that you should forgive it for its plot holes, or that it has any deep meaning, or anything like that. In fact, it's probably easier to make a convincing argument against the movie than for it. I'm just saying, I really liked it.
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2/10
Throw all logic out the window!
cooltoys00710 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
First of all this movie was not confusing, nor was it thought provoking. I get the idea of morphology, the shimmer refracting dna and the idea of one's own self destruction to becoming something new/ different. Those ideas were cool, but that's not what I have issues with. It's hard to take this movie as a deep, intellectual movie when common sense and basic logic is all tossed aside. Here is a list of things that I couldn't get passed in this movies:

1. The team. Only one person had military training yet they were all given automatic weapons?

2. The biologist doesn't wear gloves when swabbing specimens? Who cares about contamination right?

3. Everyone they sent into the shimmer has died and never made it back except one guy who is dying and coughing up blood. They kept him in a quarantined area and wore hazmat suits around him, but they go into the shimmer unprotected?

4.This is a military/government operation, where's the military? It would have made more sense to send a team of scientist in with a team of trained military professionals. I get the girl power in this, but you could have sent them in with an all female unit.

5. You kill a giant, vicious mutated gator and decided the best mode of transportation is to get in the water on tiny row boats? People! We are talking about a gator that is on steroids and has severe roid rage! This place is a swamp!

6.Their idea of standing on guard at night is to have one person on the ground 200 ft away from everyone in a small guard shack that has no walls where something can grab you from all angles while everyone else was high up in a lookout tower. There was a balcony on the tower that had one set of stairs that went up it. That is where you put your guard.

7.Who the hell packed their gear? No night vision goggles? No secondary side arms? No masks in case of deadly spores? The side arms and night vision googles later in the movie were stripped from the soldiers equipment they found.

Now. I am not saying do not watch this movie. You can do whatever you want. It's your choice. You might like it and not be bothered by the things I listed.What I am saying is that I cannot agree with those that are praising this as the best sci-fi movie or that it's the most intelligent one. For every intellectually stimulating subject that's touched in the movie is quickly overshadowed by some boneheaded decisions and actions.

There are (in my opinion) better Sci-fi movies out there. Arrival, Blade Runner 1 and 2, Ex Machina, Any Star Trek movie, District 9, 2001, Alien and Aliens, Predator, The Maze Runner, The Matrix, Close Encounters, The Edge of Tomorrow, Minority Report, Interstellar, Dune...

You want thought provoking movies? Check out these: Arrival, Memento, Fight Club, The Sixth Sense, The Number 23, The Count of Monte Cristo...
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8/10
Strange, abstract, mesmeric
ajwh-5359314 March 2018
I've thought about this film for days after seeing it. I don't even know what specifically I've been thinking about, all I can say is it left a big impression on me. I disagree with those who say it's intellectual. I don't think it is nor was it intended to be. It's visceral, primal, just like the world inside The Shimmer.

For me, films work on three hierarchical levels: at the very basic, they should be entertaining. All films should succeed here (but not all do, which is why we should rightly slam those that don't!). Then, there are films that are not only entertaining but also elicit an emotional response; they move us in some way. Finally, there are entertaining films that are moving but also have meaning; they resonate on a deeper, often metaphysical level. To my mind, Annihilation achieves all three.

Forget the plot holes. They exist in every film, otherwise they wouldn't be stories. Some of my favourite films have canyon-sized plot holes and inconsistencies. If you analyse any film you'll find them, and often you don't have to look very hard, e.g. Back to the Future. Do the plot holes and gaps in logic stop BTTF from being a great film? Not to my mind, because I'm invested in the movie. Plot holes only matter to me when they draw me away from the film; if it fails to entertain me.

Does the plot in Annihilation even really matter? The film is about the experience, the visuals and audio, the curiosity, the suspense. A world that could only be accessible to us in our imaginations is here brought to life on the screen. It asks a lot of questions but isn't interested in the answers. It's bold, brave, challenging. Some of it is spectacular, some of it less so. Naturally, that will split opinion, but we've become too accustomed to the ready-packaged "Happy Meal Movies" that the studios churn out for us. We're addicted to them like we're addicted to sugary fast food. We should welcome any film that attempts to wean us off that and broaden our palates.

This is a proper cinematic film, so what a shame it is that here in the UK (and many other countries) we were denied the pleasure of seeing it on the big screen. I can only imagine how even more beguiling and entrancing the experience would've been.

Turn off the lights, switch off your phones, and sit back and feed your imagination and sense of wonder. I know that's why I watch and love films. 8.5/10.
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6/10
Pretty to look at but ultimately an unsatisfying experince
SmashandNasty23 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
A biologist (Natalie Portman), a psychologist (Jennifer Leigh), a physicist (Tessa Thomspon), an anthropologist (Tuva Novotny), and a paramedic (Gina Rodriguez) embark on an expedition into "The Shimmer", a mysterious quarantined zone.

Our take: See it in theaters if you like pretty things, but skip it completely if you can't handle frustrating plots. Post credit scene? No.

Not your standard sci-fi flick, Annihilation has a slow but promising start. It is full of excellent performers that give the caliber of performance you'd expect from them - Portman stands out, but the rest of the female ensemble all hold their own while facing their personal demons and also facing a weird, and a seemingly hostile alien landscape invading Earth. Rodriguez is probably the most surprising. From her hair to her attitude she's 100 miles away from Jane Villanueva, the role she's probably most well known for.

Stunning visually, yet not quite on par with Avatar's Pandora, it features the same sort of colorful flora and fauna. The score is compelling and well-matched to the film. But ultimately, it loses itself in convoluted science mumbo-jumbo and truly bizarre alien stuff.

There are too many plot holes throughout to make a satisfying film. If you're looking for answers, you'll be sorely disappointed in the few if any, you receive. The "science" is shoddy at best. Only a few brief lines of dialogue are afforded to explaining the mutations in "the Shimmer" and they are unsatisfying and incomplete. It doesn't come off as the sort of movie you would be able to understand if you were just a little smarter, or a bit more well-read, instead it seems as if the issues it has are largely narrative. The screenplay purposefully doesn't give enough information and rather than feeling bogged down by too much science and explanation, we were distracted by the lack of it.

The film just - got too weird too fast. And there wasn't enough good in it to make up for that. We're all for strong female ensemble films. We're all for talented WOC playing scientists and doctors. We're also all for smart and well-written sci-fi. This just didn't deliver.
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3/10
Awful illogical weirdness masquerading as artistic intellectuality
garciam4423 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
From the trailer I was expecting an action-packed sci-fi thriller... but I was very misled. What I watched was nearly 2 hours of mind-numbing tedious garbage. Nothing is really ever explained, everyone talks very slowly (I am assuming they are trying to create suspense, but it is very unnatural) - the whole setup just seems very odd and illogical for a group of women scientists preparing to venture into someplace treacherous and unknown.

I will say the special effects and CGI were very good - so it did have spectacular visuals - the only reason I am giving 3 stars. Everything else was either mediocre or awful - and too often illogical.

Spoilers ahead...

Some of the stupid things that happen in the movie:

Despite 3 years of study - sending in teams and drones - running tests at the perimeter - no one inside of a scientific (government?) facility has any information regarding what is going on inside of this bubble-like anomaly encapsulating an area of swamp and coastline - they call it inside "The Shimmer."

A female psychologist plays the tough bad-ass character. Not the paramedic or former soldier - no the psychologist (you would assume a psychologist might be sensitive and sweet). And for some reason this psychologist has been making the decisions regarding who enters this anomaly (a.k.a. The Shimmer). I'm not even sure she is part of the government - which I assumed was in control of the facility because they capture Lena's escaped husband in the beginning third of the movie.

A male soldier's insides have been completely mutated and swirling around like a worm, but somehow he is still alive. Upon seeing this on video, a former paramedic exclaims it was a lighting trick and to not believe what they just saw (Aside: pretty much all of us in the theater burst out laughing).

A former soldier is using night-vision goggles to see out into the dark - but she's standing in the middle of a booth-type structure with the lights on - which obviously would disrupt the ability to use the night-vision goggles.

Cells extracted and plated from Lena's blood are rapidly dividing and mutating, but somehow she is not extremely sick and dying?

The ending is so exceptionally weird that I'm not sure a written description could even come close to accurate. It tries very hard to be artistic and deep / mind-bending, but instead comes off silly and trite.
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2/10
Pretentious drivel -- makes Prometheus look rational
stephen-31013 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The ideas, and even scenes, in this movie can be found in a whole list of SF novels and movies from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse series), John Carpenter's The Thing, Alien, Avatar, The Astronaut's Wife, Blair Witch, Tarkovsky's Stalker & Solaris, and JG Ballard's The Crystal World. (In one scene I thought I was watching Ghostbusters.) It throws in some genetics jargon and wraps everything in pseudo-philosophical nonsense while adding nothing new.

The story makes no sense. Perhaps the most significant event in human history and the investigation team seems to have the budget and staffing of a small university chemistry department. Over the course of several years many research teams have entered the Shimmer, never to return (mostly). Surely, by now they'd have nuked it? But no, they do exactly the same thing again with a new team.

They go in with no back-up plan; in fact no plan at all. No protocols. Not even a bio-hazard suit? And apparently no paper and pencil for making notes, which would have been useful when they find themselves lost and with no memory of the previous 4 days. Really? They are supposed to be scientists.

The protagonists do all the stupid things people in horror movies always do: Just been attacked by a giant mutant alligator? Sure, let's take to the water in small boats. Attacked by a giant mutant bear? Sure, wander off in the jungle alone.

As with Garland's previous offering, Ex Machina, it's all style and no substance; nothing that hasn't been done before, better.
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10/10
Polarized Audience - You apparently may love or hate this
jimmyjohnjones6925 March 2018
I don't review films, but I felt I had to counter the "one star" ratings from people who evidently didn't "get" this modern sci-fi masterpiece. I have to say I'm baffled by the extremely low reviews from some people, especially those who claim they went to sleep during the movie (is it fair to give it one star if you didn't see all of it?), or those who claim they are doing it to counter the "fake" ten star reviews.

I am giving this a ten because this movie single-handedly restored my faith in cinema as capable of giving me an "experience" in the theater. This is not a perfect film. That's not why I gave it a ten. I gave it a ten because of its vision and its impact. I'd say it's a cross between Alien, Arrival, Monsters, and 2001. If you don't like films that create an environment and put you in it to experience something, you probably won't like this. It's not a straight linear sci-fi film where you will have all your questions answered. Instead, it will make you think about what life and death is, about what ties us together, and it will give you a few scares along the way, and show you things you have never seen in other films. It will also convey how important the soundtrack can be in a film.

It's tragic that other countries didn't get a chance to see this in the theater. For anyone watching this overseas on Netflix, I recommend you watch on the largest television you can find with the best sound system you can get, and crank it. If you have to bribe your friend with the 70" television and Atmos sound system, do it. It's worth it to experience this film to the fullest. I wish I could see it for the first time again in the theater.

If you've read the book, Garland says this was created as a sort of "dream" of the book, and it's only roughly based on that work. If you have read the book first, you need to reset your expectations going in.

Again, this is not a "paid" review, it's not a "fake" review. I experienced what I can only describe as a near-religious experience in the theater watching this film, and a repeated view at home brought all those feelings back. It's a tremendous work, and I can't wait to see what Garland does next.
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2/10
Like Solaris meets Stalker, but with so many holes one cannot see the point.
XeniaGuberman24 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I went with an open mind, as I've never heard of the corresponding book. Alas, I was already laughing half way through, at the scene with bear shooting - so poorly constructed the plot was. However, the bear episode was just the first culmination of the incoherent pileup of plot stretches and pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo that badly needed a comic relief.

For starters, one has to wonder why the biggest army in the world did not employ its might, or, say, just an armoured regiment, to investigate the phenomenon, but instead was sending tiny groups of volunteers for three years. Or, for example, why the gals abandoned a secure position on top of the guard tower just to be attacked. Or, one has to constantly scratch the head how come those pesky genetic mutations were able to merge different kingdoms of life and even fragments of conscience into all those new life forms. Or, on a related subject, where did the Cambridge physicist disappear to? Or, what happened to the leader of the team, really? Let's assume, it was magic. If so, why it was never acknowledged, but instead we hear laughable mumbling about HOX genes? These inconsistencies at some point become just really hard to bear. Without giving away too much of the "plot", or the lack of such, all ends pretty bad. Namely, after a spectacular animation sequence, which makes no sense whatsoever, all gets back to quasi normal, except there is an alien clone (or two?) in our midsts. The end.

Of course, one also has to wonder, if it all was just a lie by the lead character. If so, why so elaborate? And what really, really happened with that "little green man" at the lighthouse... In short, easily - one of the silliest SciFi movies in decades.
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5/10
Nope
MarkoutTV4 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Yeah this one wasn't working for me, dawg.

It's been a while since I found myself at such a disconnect between the public and critical view of a movie and my own interpretation. Not since Dunkirk I think.

Either way much like that one I can see why people liked this movie and I don't have any issue with the fact people do, it just didn't work for me. There's no real advantage to being the guy who doesn't like the beloved movie and I'm not really in the mood to go into laborious detail to explain why I DON'T like something, hence why most of my detailed reviews are positive as well as most of my reviews in general. I don't want to do this review at all and the least effort I put into it, the better honestly. So I'm just going to do this review in a pros/cons list format.

Things I liked about the movie:

  • The environmental effects are really nice.


  • Oscar Isaac was good in it, because he's Oscar Isaac.


  • For the most part, Natalie Portman was good in it.


  • A couple of the tense scenes were indeed quite tension-filled. Two in particular.
  • The first scene where video footage is found of Oscar Isaac's crew descending into madness, complete with a highly disturbing scene of a crew member's stomach being cut open to show that his internal organs are moving.
  • The mutated bear attack scene in the house was freaky, tense and legitimately compelling. If every scene were like that we'd have no problem here.


  • The premise itself, a growing orb likely to consume the world if unchecked, where inside all DNA is refracted and distorted, while not the most unique thing on the planet, is interesting and can be done well, and there were glimpses of it being done well here.


  • The ending (although they basically gave away the surprises 5 minutes before the surprises) was well done and saved me from being truly merciless on the film.


Now the bad news:

  • The trailer was bad. It should have ended right before they ENTERED the shimmer. It would have been so much more interesting if the audience came into the movie wondering what was going to be inside. Roland Emmerich has been getting butts into the seats for his terrible films with this style of marketing for years. He can't make movies for the life of him, but he can make trailers. So as someone who saw the trailer multiple times during previews, I fully admit I was put off from the getgo. Then again although I was put off from The Post due to the trailer, I admitted it was better than the trailer made it look, although still not particularly good. But that movie ultimately was tonally different from how the trailer made it seem. With this one, save the ending and a couple details, if you saw the trailer, you saw the movie.


  • It took a bit too long to get into the shimmer. It would have been fine if in the near hour of exposition leading up to it, the film created more interesting characters than just Isaac and Portman, but pretty much everyone else in the movie is disposable... and was disposed of.


  • In my opinion, the acting performances from any of our female leads who's name didn't rhyme with Shmatalie Shmortman, were either unremarkable, or flat-out bad. Unfortunately, I thought Jennifer Jason Leigh, an actor who has been in other movies, and has been good in some of them, fell into the latter portion. She seemed to deliver all of her lines in a sarcastic tone, even when it seemed ill-befitting the moment or worse, unintentional.
  • In the middle of their fight for survival, she finds a video cassette with writing to the effect of "for those that follow". Her response: "Hrmph... I guess that means us." If I'm in the crew I'm like: "Not the time for sarcasm, jerkface." That's what I would say. Jerkface. I'm a badass.


  • Basically all the dialogue in the movie is spoken in whisper, even when they're not in the shimmer. I always find that really annoying in movies. Comes off as pretentious. That's probably a me-only issue but when every line of dialogue is performed in a quiet tone to make them seem meaningful, it takes the drama away from the actual dramatic moments.


  • So much unrealistic dialogue.


  • "In a way it's two bereavements. Losing my daughter, and losing the person I once was". Nobody. Talks. Like. That.


  • A disturbing video portraying a man having his stomach cut open to reveal his intestines moving around like a snake. Professional medic: "That was a trick of the light." There's being in denial and then there's being a moron.


  • Ultimately unnecessary flashback scenes that basically only served as trailer footage. Think the Batman in the desert scene from Batman v. Superman. A few of them provide decent exposition, but most of them were needless.


  • Shephard, recipient of the esteemed "worst actress in the movie" award and deliverer of the great "two bereavements" line during a scene of exposition vomit on a canoe, is attacked by a mutated bear and very clearly has a 0% chance of survival. However, Natalie Portman declares "we have to make sure", just so she can go out on her own and we can get a trailer shot of two white cartoon deer. And the payoff to this scene... HOLY CRAP... she's dead. Speaking of the cartoon deer...


  • Although the environment effects are beautiful, most of the creature effects are anything but. In any scene where there is bright lighting they look cartoonish and not really there. The good bear attack scene was aided by the fact that it took place during the night time. But the stuff with the deers, or the gator attack, didn't look very good.


  • At the beginning, Portman's character is asked what happened to the crew. She says "I don't know". She then proceeds to explain exactly what happened to the crew in detail throughout the events of the film.


  • The big monster at the end of it all is a machine that creates clones of people to the tune of weird psychedelic rock music... meh. It's completely superficial of course but just for me personally it was a little bit of a letdown.


  • The scene of Portman interacting with her clone was effective, but why did the clone wait until it had a grenade in it's hands to stop mimicking Portman's movements? Shouldn't it have ran alongside Portman at the same time, ultimately blowing both of them up? I think it would have been a far more effective ending if Portman sacrificed herself in order to kill the threat anyway, but that would have required some actual bravery on the part of the filmmaker.


  • The big bad menace is defeated with a grenade. I wish one of these thriller movies would actually end with a clever way to defeat the monster at the end, not conventional weaponry. Same problem with War of the Worlds. A pretty decent thriller and a threatening menace, and how is it finally taken down? A bazooka. Again, a me problem only. That's why I'm not saying the movie is bad. I'm saying it didn't work for me personally.


  • The final Oscar Isaac video makes it clear that there's a pretty decent chance that he isn't the real one. Kinda takes the piss out of the twist.


Maybe it's just the New York City tap water because despite the glowing reviews, in my theater there were a couple walkouts and some chirping of "this is stupid" behind me. But me and this film were just never in sync. It came off as a movie desperately wanting to be more smart and meaningful than it actually was.

One person clapped. I'm happy for them.
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7/10
Was it carbon based?
petra_ste20 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Annihilation is a tough sell. Fans of fast-paced action movies who just want to watch Natalie Portman shooting monsters in the face may be irked by the film's slow pace and reliance on atmosphere. On the other hand, admirers of weighty, cerebral science-fiction may consider Annihilation too pulpy; there are not many violent or horrific scenes, but what violence is there is quite gruesome and what horror is there is fairly disturbing. Nitpicky moviegoers will complain that many things here (both character choices and scientific stuff) don't stand up to closer scrutiny; it's not quite Prometheus bad, but it's sometimes baffling (funny how all these scientists handle the most sickening, pestilent-looking specimens without gloves). Fans of the source material may be disappointed by changes; I haven't read Jeff VanderMeer's novel but I understand writer/director Alex Garland took many liberties with this adaptation.

Me? I liked it just fine. Annihilation is not on par with Garland's remarkable Ex Machina but it does scratch my itch for creepy science-fiction/horror made with craft and care. This feels, in tone and themes, quite Lovecraftian.

In fact, the premise is reminiscent of Lovecraft's underrated The Colour out of Space. A mysterious biological entity from space infects a region of the United States; flora and fauna start mutating, mixing different species, with an uncontrolled proliferation like a giant, ever-expanding tumor. Five female scientists venture in the zone; among them is protagonist Lena (Natalie Portman), seeking a way to help her husband (Oscar Isaac), a Black Ops soldier who came back from the zone sick and deeply changed.

The movie looks great in spite of a slim (for Hollywood standards) 40 millions budget, with excellent, creative production design. While it's not as intellectual or abstruse as some reviews may lead one to believe, Annihilation does put enough spins on familiar tropes to feel fresh and novel; it's not the usual Aliens clone. I did find the very ending a little obvious though.

Still, the film builds up the tension nicely to some unsettling moments, like found footage of a previous mission or an encounter with a monstrous hybrid. I also like how the mutations are not always a source of horror but occasionally also of awe and beauty; again, it feels very Lovecraftian.

Finally, a special mention to the climax in the lighthouse, which I won't spoil; it's creepy, unexpected and feels unique in terms of confrontations with extraterrestrial entities seen in movies.

7/10
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5/10
Ambitious Disappointment
matthewssilverhammer1 March 2018
Remember when alien movies were just about little green men or robot humanoids coming to conquer Earth? Annihilation is another in a long line of modern sci-fi films to be more interested in the philosophy than the practicality of extra-terrestrials. But unlike Under the Skin or Europa Report, its ponderous nature never quite reaches its point. It's definitely a metaphor for something, but what? Aging? Marriage? Dementia? Time? Death? Perhaps a second-viewing would clear some of this up, but then I'd have to slog through this movie again. An unknown object has crashed onto earth, causing a slowly growing "shimmer" wall that seems to make anyone who enters it disappear. In so many ways, it's just a lesser version of classic films. Like Tarkovsky's Stalker, it's comfortable with saying "I don't know", but more out of confusion than intrigue. Like Villeneuve's Arrival, it uses alien beings to talk about humanity, but with little emotional impact. Like Carpenters' The Thing, its unexpectedly and brutally gory, though not as technically impressive. However, it's a hard movie to write-off or be complacent about, given its strangeness and ambition. The bursts of horror are fun and unique, with cool creatures and a steady directing hand. Most of all, it's visually striking cinematography and often quite beautiful production design are undeniable. Most of its issues seem to stem from the writing, which isn't just thematically unfocused, but also just full of cliched dialogue. With Ex Machina, Alex Garland made a strong impression with that debut. And even with all of Annihilation's script problems, his camera's eye and brainy tendencies keep him as a filmmaker worth watching.
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9/10
Very dark and bizarrely beautiful sci-fi masterpiece, but I can also see why some don't like it.
Hellmant23 February 2018
'ANNIHILATION': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

The new science fiction horror flick from writer/director Alex Garland (who also performed both duties on 2014's 'EX MACHINA'). It's about a biologist who volunteers to lead an expedition into a dangerous environmental zone, after her husband comes out of the zone seriously injured, and the sole survivor of his expedition. It's based on the novel, of the same name, by Jeff VanderMeer. The film stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and Oscar Isaac. It's gotten nearly unanimous positive reviews from critics, but it also performed really poorly at a test screening (which prompted a Netflix release overseas, instead of a theatrical one). I think the film is a very dark and bizarrely beautiful sci-fi masterpiece, and I can also see why a lot of people won't like it.

A year has passed since a team of soldiers entered an environmental disaster zone, and never returned. One soldier, named Kane (Isaac), suddenly reappears, much to the desperate relief of his biologist wife Lena (Portman), but he doesn't remember where he's been or how he got home. Then he has a sudden medical emergency, and is rushed to a hospital. In an attempt to help him, Lena decides to join a team of all female scientists, on an expedition back into the environmental zone. Things of course don't go as planned.

The movie is very hauntingly beautiful, and it's especially highlighted by an awesomely haunting score, and some breathtaking visuals. The story is interesting, but it's definitely slow-paced, and the climax is much more of an intellectual payoff than a spectacular action scene (which many viewers might be hoping for). So I can definitely see why some people would hate this film, but I loved it. It's one I definitely won't forget anytime soon too, and it's great to see Natalie Portman (my old favorite actress) back in top form!
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9/10
Artful sci-fi horror mystery
clark-ingleton17 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Gina Rodiguez, Tessa Thompson and Tuva Novotny, and is directed by Alex Garland, who wrote and directed the highly acclaimed Ex Machina from 2015, and he also wrote Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, Sunshine and The Beach.

Portman plays Lena, a biologist whose widowed to her husband Kane, played by Oscar Isaac, who was drafted to the Middle East and has been gone and unheard of for a year. When he returns home seemingly without memory and in need of hospitalisation, Lena is intercepted by a large research vessel investigating a large area known as The Shimmer. The Shimmer is a growing area of land, where some time ago, something from space (a meteor?) hit what was reported to be a lighthouse, and engulfed the whole area, and this shimmering envelope is spreading and engulfing further and further. Everyone who has so far gone into The Shimmer (military and scientists) have simply never returned or been heard of again. That is until the return of Kane. Given Lena's love for Kane and the possibility of bringing him back to health, she agrees to venture into The Shimmer and the lighthouse, along with a psychologist, an anthropologist, a paramedic and a physicist (played in order by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuva Novotny, Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson) to find out what this area is, how to stop it, how to keep it safe etc.

This slow burn will take its time setting up characters, world, ideas and concepts, and will not hold your hand and walk you through it, however it certainly isn't, at least for me, completely abstract and ambiguous. I found it all to be reasonably accessible, although there's a hell of a lot in here to unpack in this mildly spoilery review.

So one of the main concepts and ideas that takes place in The Shimmer is that all biological DNA from all known species, suddenly has the ability to splice with one another, creating hybrids of many things, which on paper and on the surface sounds cheesy and dumb. "Let's make a movie where alligators splice with sharks, and the people have to fight them with big guns and explosions and chases!" But within context of the film, and the way it tackles this idea, it's creepy and eerie and morally, scientifically and environmentally... questionable.

One of my favourite scenes is when Tessa Thompson's character has her arms exposed for the first time, as through much of the film she has long sleeves to cover her scars. But she says to Lena "Ventress wants to face it, you want to fight it, but I want neither.". She then turns and walks off, revealing that DNA from plant life has taken over her, and she's come to simply accept it, and it sounds silly and hokey, but in execution it was eerie and mysterious, and there was profound beauty to it. The film's title is an odd one, because hearing it, it sounds like an action extravaganza, and even hearing the plot and seeing posters it looks it too. But Jennifer Jason Leigh's character outright says in the film, and to paraphrase "When the DNA and cells all split and merge and refract and divide, until there's simply no cells left, implosively cancelling everything out as they split and become smaller and smaller, it results in annihilation", which is where the title comes from.

Annihilation has similar elements to many other sci-fi films, all of which are very different, and which Annihilation combines into something very unique. There were moments where I was reminded of Alien, Predator, 2001, AI, Event Horizon in an almost identical scene in which the crew discovers videotapes of bizarre, aberrant and horrifying behaviour from the previous crew, as well as the conceptual horrors of exploring the unknown. There's Under the Skin in there, especially in the last 30 minutes, where it all becomes as abstract as you can get and deals with DNA splicing into clones and emulation and sacrifice.

So in the end Annihilation is a difficult film to review without either giving it all away in your explanation, which I probably have, or by making something that, in its execution, is artful and thought-provoking, but by describing it can sound lowbrow and unsophisticated. It's hard simply remembering all the ideas and threads and concepts, but it's an example of when sci-fi can be out there and complex, and I couldn't recommend it enough. It's definitely a think piece, where the story and concepts kind of outweigh the performances a little, but it's a journey fully worth taking. Brilliant to look at, visually interesting and different, there's a lot you can get out of it. It was one where I immediately wanted to see it again to further take it in, which is a rarity for these sorts of heady films, but it's even one I see myself revisiting more.
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1/10
Annihilation of a Decent Idea
tigerfish505 March 2018
A meteorite strikes a lighthouse on the southeastern US coast and a mysterious 'Shimmer Zone' begins expanding from the impact point. The government keeps the event a secret and sends military units into the area. None of these personnel ever return, until the special forces husband of an ex-Army biologist called Lena suddenly shows up at their home. He's been missing for a year, remembers little of it, and immediately falls seriously ill. After this 15 minute prologue, Lena joins the next all-female expedition. The five women enter the zone, witness disturbing events and discover their communications devices no longer work. Rather than return to base and report these discoveries, they push on, making more foolish decisions as they proceed, until they resemble dim-witted teenagers in a slasher pic.

Many sci-fi fans will recall JG Ballard conceived the original idea of an expanding zone where the laws of nature are transformed. By comparison to Ballard's 1966 novel 'The Crystal World', Garland's film of Jeff VanderMeer's copycat story is a conventional adventure movie spiced up with some sci-fi mumbo-jumbo. The military and scientific background becomes increasingly unbelievable as routine action sequences and CGI pyrotechnics overwhelm all the grown-up possibilities. 'Annihilation' ends up as inconsequential as Garland's 2007 'Sunshine' screenplay - and after 'Ex Machina', it's a major disappointment.
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4/10
Tonal Mess
sscott9423 February 2018
The movie tries to be brilliant but it's a mess. Tonally, it doesn't know what it wants to be. Suspense? Horror? Sci-Fi? Action? It does a terrible job of blending all of these. By the end, I was left wondering, "What was the point?"

The protagonist's journey is muddled by the end the story limps to the finish line. The writer/director doesn't seem to know where the story is going,halfway through.

Interviews with the cast reveal that the story and tone changed throughout filming. Also, other's who have read the books have said that he drastically departs from the book, changing the ending completely - never a good sign.
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3/10
Been a while since i was this disappointed
merpman-944021 March 2018
I was expecting a mind bending, make you ask questions of your own existence kind of movie. Did not get that at all.

What i did get was a slow, huge plot hole, mess of a boring didnt ask any questions at all really kind of movie.

Nearly fell asleep, i would have, except the guy 2 rows behind me was snoring too loudly !
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2/10
Annoying nonsense
JamesMcIrish12 March 2018
This is not a science fiction film. It is a vaguely pretty puff piece, that goes absolutely nowhere, says absolutely nothing and constantly irritates while doing so, with its lack of narrative, vagueness and utterly boring finale.

It isn't true to say there are flaws in this film, because the entire thing is so fundamentally flawed and devoid of logic as to render the term meaningless. This is a vehicle for pretty graphics, nothing more.

It does look pretty though so, hey if you're into CGI art then maybe you'll like it.

Me? I thought it was a steaming, stinking turkey of a movie.
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1/10
What the fork just happened?
mf-3351712 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
For all the hype that's all this movie was.

Character development is spotty. We hardly know anything about most of the characters by the end of the movie. Their dialog and interaction is just flat and boring.

The plot is just a giant mind sucking hole! Still not even sure "if" the reason for the shimmer was alien? What did the thing in the shimmer want? Was it really trying to destroy the planet?

Top 10 worst movies of 2018 so far
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2/10
They must be paying people...
cbaw195713 March 2018
They must be paying people to give this movie any kind of approval at all. Those in ivory towers pontificating on existential meaning and the use of post modern allegory to defend this film are just missing the point,i e: it's a bad movie. From beginning to end, it's just bad. I don't want to argue the technical virtues, for sake of argument, I will affirm some good photography, special effects, and maybe even the art design. But WOW! the movie just made no sense. The was no character identification, just nothing in the story made yo like or sympathize with anyone. There was no clear sense of direction in the story line or even in the editing. The acting was mediocre and lackluster. The characters themselves were paper this and stereotypical. I can't emphasis enough my contempt for this garbage. And please, anyone who brings up 2001, I will throttle you..
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2/10
This B movie is profoundly terrible and should have go straight to video
adamwho2 March 2018
This movie is profoundly terrible. You have been warned.

Annihilation is at best a straight to video B movie.

People will tell you that the visuals a great. No it is standard CGI fare

People will tell you that the score is great. No it is completely forgetable

The plot and characters are so stupid that you have to wonder how the screen play was approved. There were no deep scientific questions, there was no profound meaning.

Basically the movie throws a bunch of incoherent nonsense at you and hopes you will be fooled into thinking it is profound.
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2/10
Disappointing
paphotography13 March 2018
After reading all the reviews saying this was a brilliant film, I was left wondering if I watched the same film. OK, slow to start, but it never really picked up any pace. When it finished I was still trying to get my head around the storyline... Not impressed by the visuals, which I expected to be far better. Overall a boring film.....don't bother.
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1/10
This film should be annihilated!
mlahola9 March 2018
I drove in a huge snow storm to see "Annihilation" and thank god I also saw Red Sparrow or I would have been really pissed. Several flashbacks to irrelevant sex scenes with no sex in them. I imagine the film director after realizing his picture is boring and stupid decided he better show Natalie Portman's bare back or risk losing distribution of this drivel altogether. After several teams of marines disappear in a forest someone thinks it's a good idea to send in a group of young women "scientists" with assault rifles, and no training to confront an unknown alien something or other. Just as expected the brainless girls start fighting amongst each other and each one wants to go her own way. How very high school is that? To rationalize sending in a team of children Jeff Vandermeer and Alex Garland thought they better have the little girls say a few scientific type sounding words but not too many because they are a bit hard to pronounce. This film gives the SciFi genre a bad name.
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9/10
Three reasons you may not like this film
red_zebra225 March 2018
I found this film tense, thrilling, beautiful, imaginative and intriguing. I'm bemused by the number of highly negative reviews here, but have three possible explanations. The first is that the main protagonists are all women, which seems to bother some viewers. I found this aspect a breath of fresh air, with interesting and strong female characters that develop and are revealed over the course of the film. The second that may not appeal to lovers of standard Hollywood fare is that the pace is somewhat slow and thoughtful. However, this adds a wonderful air of mystery and suspense. I'm pleased to see another reviewer below also saw a comparison with Tarkovsky's Stalker in this sense (though of course nothing can compare to his cinematography). Here, the tranquil or tense atmosphere is punctuated by some scenes of exceptional horror that really shake you. And the third is that there is no nicely packaged "answer". There are several possible explanations for the "shimmer" as we go on, but I don't think there is any clear right one. The characters actually discuss this ambiguity themselves, so I do believe it is completely intentional. Finally I would add that the music is amazing - some amazing atmospheric industrial sounding tracks by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury. One of the rare films I would watch again.
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9/10
Loved it
Goody-69-37564717 March 2018
After reading the negative reviews I wasn't expecting this film to to as great as it was! I'm glad I went off the ratings instead!

Great acting, brilliant story, great ending

A bit of horror, nothing too gory

It really had me imagining and thinking about it for quite a while afterwards

Sci fi at its best!

Well done to all those concerned!
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8/10
Good sci-fi with refreshing touch. Enjoy it, don't intellectualise it.
eyefordetail18 March 2018
It's hard to find novel sci-fi these days, but this movie explored a few new directions that I found entertaining. The story is good and the execution carried and developed the suspense well. Sometimes a movie needs to be rated as how engaging it is, how it kept your attention and how it made you feel, not how many "plot holes" there are, how "logical" it was and such intellectual drivel. Enjoying a movie is like drinking a beer - you like it or you don't, but please don't give me a diatribe on the size of the bubbles and whether the colour is golden amber or light gold. Who cares? I enjoyed the movie and the acting and was engaged to the end. Which means in entertainment value: Goal achieved.
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