New Movie Review: Annihilation

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Rated 2 of 5 stars

Based on the first novel in a trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, named Southern Reach, the movie Annihilation is created. I was excited to watch this movie because I enjoyed Ex Machina so much that I knew the Director could create a cinematic marvel that would have audiences engaged and confused. Unfortunately, Annihilation did bring confusion but never really released the audience from that state of confusion by explaining anything.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the storyline:

Lena is a professor of biology and her military husband has been missing for a year until he returns one day disoriented. Shortly after, he becomes deathly ill and Lena and him are both carted away to a covert research facility. While there, Lena is enlisted to help research a phenomenon called the Shimmer, which is a shimmery border around miles of land that continues to grow. Many teams have been sent in to decipher what is happening in the shimmer but none returned, other than Lena’s husband who is now in multiple organ failure and unable to give any answers. Lena decides to go in with the team (all women) to find out what is going on in the shimmer and get to the source of the initial blast, a lighthouse.

The writing was wrought with “I don’t know” and yes/no questions and answers. This began to grate my nerves toward the end of the film. If no one knows what’s going on and the movie itself doesn’t explain it…then there is no true plot. There are only actions and re-actions based on what a character does but the question of “why?” is never answered in this film. You will not know what the shimmer is (other than a prism that refracts everything within the shimmer…but is it alien? why did it come? why the lighthouse? why is it expanding? why haven’t the other teams made it?). Many of the characters were not used appropriately, such as the EMT that did not utilize any EMT skills during the movie (twice she could’ve and she didn’t use it), the lead doctor who did not lead the team at all, made bad decisions and didn’t make sense of anything other than a map, and another scientist that was killed off pretty quickly in the story line without having contributed. We only gained two pieces of information from this scientific team (the DNA was mixing to create something new and the shimmer caused everything inside to refract DNA…basically, creating something new).

The characters were very one dimensional and throughout the movie we hope to cling to someone…something…ANYTHING. But sadly, there is nothing. I haven’t read the books so I am not sure if the writing for the book led to this quandary or if the screenwriters flubbed this so royally. This movie could  have been great had it given us a true antagonist or protagonist. Or at the very least, some interesting dialogue. The film relies heavily on concept. It makes you throw out common sense completely and any military people in the audience like myself will see MULTIPLE issues with the story line and the actions of the characters. This was the most disjointed movie I’ve watched in a while. The only pro I could find was that it was visually pleasing. I’m thinking that the Director hoped that the beauty and suspense would override the need for a plot. The end will leave you completely confused and dissatisfied. Save your money on this one!

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