Summary: A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.
Cast and Characters.
Natalie Portman as Lena. She is a biologist and former soldier, Kane’s wife. It’s been some time since Kane went on his mission and Lena has dealt with his absence in a quiet torturous kind of way. She keeps to herself, she always seems sad and when he returns, she takes it upon herself, after she’s taken to the facility, to find out what happened to him. Throughout the movie, we see her think quick on her feet, use her military background to make tough and smart choices and we see her use her biologist brain to learn about The Shimmer. I think Lena is an interesting character in that she’s kind of quiet, and you’re not sure if you like her or not, but she’s a survivor and usually those types of characters can be a hit or miss and I think because Natalie Portman is likable, she keeps Lena likable. I thought Portman was really strong in this movie and share carries it very well. The action she had to do was cool, the emotions she conveyed I felt. I mean, I think she’s always good.
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dr. Ventress. She is a psychologist and the leader of the expedition. She’s weird but she has her own agenda for leading the expedition. She’s also quiet, similar to Lena but you definitely don’t really trust her and what she might do. She seems really harmless but I would never let my guard down around her. We learn things about her,that reveal her reasoning and it begins to make sense. I don’t think I’ve really seen Jennifer Jason Leigh in much (outside of A Single White Female and I don’t know if I saw the entire film) but she has this uncanny ability to be very unsettling and she has a great scene at the end of the film.
Gina Rodriguez as Anya Thorensen. She’s a paramedic who goes on the mission because she’s one of the few who doesn’t have anything to lose. Anya is the cool one, who seems always up for anything, but she’s strong. She tries to protect her team, mostly Josie as she seems like the youngest and Cass. Anya is the first one to show being affected by their time in The Shimmer and it’s interesting to see that development. She has some pretty badass moments too. I’ve never seen Gina Rodriguez in anything, but she seems really likable and she is. This character I think is likable because she’s the tough one, but Gina really gives her some humanity and when we see the decay… she plays that really well.
Tessa Thompson as Josie Radek. She’s a physicist and I think the youngest of the group. At least it seems that way, everyone is very protective of her. We learn a few things about her too along the way, and I can’t help but to feel protective of her as well. I think Tessa Thompson does a good job making her characters stand out by being someone you root for even if she isn’t the lead. Josie is smart, but it’s easy to see that what she sees in The Shimmer unsettle her and she just wants to learn and understand. She also has a badass moment.
Tuva Novotny as Cass Sheppard. Cass is a surveyor and geologist. She seems like she’s the oldest of the group Lena meets. She, like the other women has a sad past, she’s at the site as a way of escaping just like the others. She is the one who reveals back story information to Lena. She was cool and though I’ve never seen the actress in anything before, I thought she was able to be this person who felt like she’s seen a lot.
Oscar Isaac as Kane, Lena’s husband and a soldier in a previous expedition. I love Oscar Isaac, no matter what he does, he’s such a great actor. When we first see him, he seems strange, like something is off about him which makes you want to know how he managed to make it out from the Shimmer. In the present, he spends a lot of the movie in a coma, but we do get to see flashbacks, as well as video footage of him inside the Shimmer. He’s always great and he always finds the balance of being a bit off and being the kind of guy who is adventurous and curious as he seems to be in the flashbacks.
Visuals. I think one of the best things about this movie is the visuals. It’s very beautiful in a lot of ways. It has some scary and gross imagery, and with me being a punk for nasty looking stuff, its gross. but a lot of it is also very beautiful. There is a scene where the group goes to this small town looking place, and you see these flower statue things and it was really weird but beautiful. Not to mention, what happened to Josie was handled really pretty. BUT like I said, the scary imagery, for me was definitely freaky.
The Soundtrack. I thought the music was handled really well. Especially in scenes of exploration, it had this kind of serene feel to it but at the same time, it was alien. There were times where the music overpowered the movie, where it was really loud, I don’t know if that was on purpose, but it definitely made me react to certain things in ways that I might not have without the music. Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow did a good job with the music.
Thought Provoking. This is the kind of movie that would leave people talking afterwards. Some will not like it, some will and some will see the depth of the story and create their own theories and ideas of the ending especially. I think that’s the making of an interesting movie in any aspect. My friends and I were definitely talking about the ending and what we thought it meant. We also chatted about what was really going on and what the aim was with The Shimmer. It was so interesting
Danger is Real. Inside The Shimmer is creepy okay. There were a lot of beautiful things that were evolved from things we know into something else but there were also some dangerous things that became even more dangerous. There are two scenes in particular that deal with the same thing that had me on edge. Between the acting, the visuals and the music/sound… it was so heightened.
The Lighthouse. Just the entire scene in the lighthouse is amazing. All of it. Probably my favorite sequence in the entire film.
The Story. Now, I’m not the type of person to tell someone “Oh you just didn’t get it” because I think that’s condescending. Now, I may ask questions to get your thoughts on something but I will never say those other words. But, I do think the movie tries too hard to be… different that in ways it just feels like a giant question mark. Maybe that’s the point but it’s also really frustrating. Answers are not given and I think the movie thinks it’s giving answers, but instead it’s just vague and cryptic.
Boring/Starts off Slow. I do think this movie is really boring in the beginning. I like set up, I like to see characters in their natural element before they are suddenly put in a situation that it nothing they’re used to, but I still want to be interested in their life before. I don’t think the movie picks up until they go into The Shimmer. Everything before that, was really boring, really slow and while I was curious to see what was going to happen, I didn’t really care. If you like action and adventure, while this movie has that, that’s not the focus. Especially at the beginning.
The Flashbacks. Throughout the movie, we got these little flashback scenes of Lena and another man. Without going into detail, when we first saw it, I went “huh?” and when they showed it again, I kind of rolled my eyes. I get why it was there, it showed a bit more into Lena’s reasons BUT I don’t think we needed to see it. Honestly, the moment at the beginning was enough for a viewer to infer what might have happened.
Overall, I enjoyed watching Annihilation, I think it’s an interesting movie that I’m sure people will either love or hate, I don’t know how much middle ground there’ll be. I liked it. My friends and I did talk about it afterwards, with our own theories, and I even asked a coworker who read the book, some questions but after that, I moved on. I’m sure some people will talk about it for ages. The acting was very good, the characters were interesting and I’m curious to see what happened after the end, I hope there’ll be a sequel. The visuals were stunning and I bet seeing this movie in IMAX would be beneficial for the sight of it alone. I thought the music really helped set the atmosphere for the film, especially when in the Shimmer. The danger felt real. Also, the lighthouse, the entire scene was amazing. However, I do think the story is confusing on some levels, mostly because it leaves a lot of things open-ended, or open to interpretation, it’s hard to really get what the movie is saying. I think it’s talking about evolution in a lot of ways, testing the strength of a person but the journey to get there is a question mark at times. I also think it starts off slow and gets a bit boring as the pacing slows down. Lastly, the flashbacks of Lena and the other man, I felt were unnecessary. It just padded the film more. Overall, I liked Annihilation.
Rating: 3.4 out of 5 stars.
I read that the studio wanted this movie to go on Netflix. After watching it, I can see why they would want that, it does feel like it could have been an awesome Netflix movie but I think it’s worth seeing in the theaters… if it’s still in the theaters. This review is overdue lol.
But have you seen Annihilation? Do you think it should have been a Netflix film?
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