Natalie Portman stars in this 2018 science fiction horror film. Portman plays Lena, a cellular biology professor and former US soldier/badass. The film starts with Lena being interrogated . 3 years previous, a meteor lead to ‘The Shimmer’ which is slowly getting bigger and in danger of taking over the human world. Lena’s husband, Kane (Oscar Issac,Star Wars, Ex Machina), had been the only one to return from the previous expedition. Portman, along with Jennifer Jason Leigh (Twin Peaks, The Hateful Eight), Gina Rodriquez (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Deepwater Horizon) , Tessa Thompson (Avengers:Endgame, Selma) are the expedition team this time round and we basically see them battle it out with ‘The Shimmer’ and the creatures that are brought with it.
This isn’t your typical super natural horror and typically of an Alex Garland (writer of the novel The Beach and the screenplays for 28 Days Later and Sunshine) there’s also some very sophisticated and complicated themes to deal with. We have the whole human vs alien thing going which isn’t a unique story but Annihilation gives us a different perspective on this clash. We even see the two worlds merge together and the distinction between human and ‘the other’ is blurred.
The scenes are well shot and Natalie Portman is at her absolute best releasing her inner Sigourney Weaver (yes she does get a mention for the second week in a row). The always excellent Oscar Isaac plays her other half while the rest of the cast is solid too. We see the team clash amongst eachother and the dynamic between them carries the story and creates a bond between audience and character and between the characters themselves.
The script and screenplay are of an unsurprisingly high standard for an Alex Garland film and we also get some spectacular scenery. New technology has meant that graphics are far more realistic but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t praise them when they’re done well. I won’t give away any spoilers but let’s just say there’s some pretty frightening encounters between woman and animal/alien and the incredible graphics make them feel all too real.
There’s a pretty obvious feminist aspect to this film with the expedition team being made up entirely of females. Unfortunately, female driven action films are still quite unusual but hopefully films such as this, along with recent superhero films Wonderwoman and Captain Marvel can help change the male dominated movie industry. However, we shouldn’t solely judge this film from this perspective. If your main reaction to every film where the females are the main characters and the drivers is ‘hey, look, it’s a film where the females are the main leads’ then the film is doing something wrong. Annihilation, along with many, many films is simply a very well made, entertaining and layered film and your main concern won’t be the gender of the protagonists. This is how all films with female leads should be treated. If it’s crap- say it’s crap. If it’s great- say it’s great. Of course, the landscape of the movie industry is a problem but patronising films and judging them based on the gender of their stars won’t help. Sorry for rattling on a bit there but it’s just a personal gripe of mine.
Annihilation is an entertaining if slightly intense film with many layers to it that will definitely make you think and challenge you. If your looking for a light, action movie with some scares trown in for good measure then this probably isn’t for you. Be prepared for utter confusion and to have to use your brain to the full extent. However, you should also be prepared for a stunningly beautiful, though provoking and dramatic film with a huge amount of redeeming value.