DEREK DIVINE: Annihilation is one of those famous instances when watching a film where the explanation of the threat is all you can keep thinking about. As Annihilation keeps going deeper and deeper into the mystery of “The Shimmer”, it’s the prime ingredient to holding your attention. Life’s made a little easier, though, with the Tour de Force of acting talent that fends of an often sluggish pace; the women have a unique, strange calm to their personas that mask the intense fear wrecking their nerves.
“Monsignor” TRAVIS MOODY: But hey, I’m just over here nervous for any movie that had to follow cinematic superhero royalty. This #5 hitter plays like a sci-fi movie I kinda like and kinda despise. Kinda, only because I’m trying to figure out what just the fuck I watched.. especially in those jarring, final 10-minutes. If the film’s climax were another one of those alien-of-the-week episodes of The X-Files–a show known to take itself as unserious as it does serious–then I’d be all for The Strange: Biology prof Lena’s (Natalie Portman) worst nightmare is an apparent tin-foiley Academy Award statueman popping out of a kaleidoscopesque warp zone, mimmicking her every move. Our worst nightmare? Seeing Portman’s strongest and most nuanced performance since Black Swan get derailed by such acidic buffoonery that, in the end, answers nothing and alters the tone of the movie drastically.
DIVINE: Now, I’m not saying I need some celestial being of light that looks like it came out of Star Trek to sit me down with a detailed Powerpoint presentation, but some dialogue would’ve been nice. Instead, we get something more along the lines of miming mixed in with an interpretive dance number that is not only confusing.. but seems more out of sorts than you at a damn Yankees game. This film has shown that there is something extraordinary going on but it at least had kept everything on a tangible physical level up until this point.
MOODY: True, but even the other Thorgirl represented in Annihilation, Tessa Thompson, decided it was time she packed her things up and headed back to Westworld before turning into the Poison Ivy (and with the way things are goin’ over in the DCEU, that ain’t a bad idea…) I like Poe Dam.. Oscar Isaac‘s chilling performance, a stoic PTSD soldier ready to fly over the cuckoo’s nest from one tour in “The Shimmer”. Kane is both dead and insane (much like the WWE counterpart) and deathly insane.
DIVINE: I do like that we are never given the usual scenes of our “heroes” socializing and becoming close buds before the mission. They are just thrust into trusting each other based on their common decision to try and help mankind. The story finds small instances to reveal background into each woman so we can see them as more than a wager of which one dies first. For all the fears that we know they must be feeling, director Alex Garland does do a wonderful job of setting a mood throughout the entire film of anxious dread and cold sweat uneasiness that not only happens inside “The Shimmer” but even in the scenes when Lena is reunited with her husband, Kane who she thought had perished long ago.
MOODY: Yeah, although Kane & Lena have their cute bedroom chemistry that should have you feel for two people whose life is about to get thrown away, “The Shimmer” — which should have been Garland’s title of this shlocky AF movie — is the place where all the fun happens: it’s sort of Stephen King’s Under the Dome, except that Dome was initially the good place. A lot of what happens here for our ragtag crew of Shimbusters (Gina Rodriguez is fun-ny!) is compelling sci-fi horror, with Mark Bigby‘s wonderful art direction easily stealing the show. There’s giant ice crystals in the sand, hybrid things like plant-people and mutated bears that people-speak. It’s all surreally imaginative. And if geeks judge Annihilation solely based on that, they’ll enjoy it just fine. 3.25/5 Bibles.
DIVINE: And most people will. Garland seems to be trying for a very artistic expression of what has landed on earth, to go along with the constant displays of flower arrangements and fluorescent trees he has inhabited in his flick. I know that some folks like to have their own interpretation of the message behind a film, but(!) I like it laid out on a big ‘ol silver platter; I want to have a clear understanding of what the director is trying to say, and with Annihilation, I have one; but I’m very unclear if I’m correct or not. In the end, this movie was like looking at a piece of dessert that looks delicious; and, then, when you eat it you realize there’s no sugar added and it leaves you disappointed. 3.5/5 Lighthouses.
Paramount Pictures’ Annihilation is in theaters everywhere tomorrow.