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REVIEW — “Annihilation”

Annihilation is the much-anticipated follow-up by Ex Machina director/writer Alex Garland. The film serves as an adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s story around a biologist named Lena (Natalie Portman) and her quest to find out what happened to her lost husband. There’s a mysterious entity sprouting from an eerie lighthouse that is engulfing large chunks of land bit by bit. Lena agrees to embark on a journey to discover what is coming from the lighthouse, with a team lead by the dry Dr. Ventress (Jeniffer Jason Leigh). The deeper the team goes into this mysterious entity, the stranger and deadlier it gets. The movie then plunges into the team falling apart while the world around them gets more and more intense. Leading to an epic conclusion that will definitely have people talking after the credits are done rolling.

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I have to say I was looking forward to Annihilation since I first heard about it. Natalie Portman? Alex Garland? Sci-Fi thriller? I was totally about it. So when it finally rolled around I had high expectations. It met my expectations, but it didn’t exceed them. I think it’s a terrific film, but the directing in my opinion could have been better. In terms of suspense the directing kind of takes a dip. There were a lot of scenes that could have been set up with maybe some score or better pacing. I wanted to be scared, crawled into my seat, but I wasn’t. It’s hard to narrow it down to the directing or editing, but the dialogue is very spaced out.  It makes the dialogue-heavy scenes drag when they really shouldn’t. Now all these complaints are not to say that Alex Garland did a terrible job, but there is a lot of room for improvement.

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Since it was a large sci-fi release, Annihilation called for an awesome cast. The actresses were really the backbone of the whole operation.  Natalie Portman does an incredible job as always, proving yet again she is one of the best working actresses in Hollywood. The supporting cast also does a top-of-the-line job playing off of each other. One of the best storylines is how the team progresses as time goes on and all that richness in the film is due to the fantastic acting done by the actresses. Oscar Issac does a great job playing the husband, but his role doesn’t call for many actions. However, he has an incredible monologue that you can’t miss, so keep your eyes peeled. Overall, the energy the acting brings to the screen is what all the hype is about.

Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuva Novotny, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson in Annihilation (2018)

The editing honestly is not as good as it could have been. The timing of the cuts is just kinda off on a lot of the scenes, making the pacing lag a little bit. The cinematography is great however that lens flair that glistens throughout the entire film is admittedly tacky in several scenes. The design of the world is tremendous. As the crew gets deeper, the environments become more complex and beautiful, it is absolutely one of the best qualities featured.  I love the verdant looks and the different color growths you see scattered throughout the universe of Annihilation. It brings you into the film and it makes you connect with the story a lot more. Also, shoutout the costuming department for those really cool khaki uniforms they are repping at the start of the whole mess. Kinda want one.

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Annihilation is a great film, but I could see a lot of people dismissing it as not for them. Which is honestly understandable, however, I side with those who enjoy the film. Sure it gets a tad avant-garde at the end, but I thought that sequence was the highlight of the entire feature. The suspense could have been a bit more gripping, but the film overall is a great sci-fi entry.  The ambition of the film is there but I feel like this movie missed the opportunity to be a bona fide classic. This is a recommended flick for anyone who wants to watch a cool sci-fi drama with some great intelligence put into it. 4/5



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