Annihilation (2018)

edited March 13 in Horror Movies
SPOILER ALERT! This is a detailed review of the film Annihilation, which I just saw, so don't read it if you haven't seen the film.

I liked Ex Machina, was looking forward to Annihilation. The first part of the movie is an interesting balancing act of awkward romantic drama and crafty plot twists. The disorientation when they arrive inside the Shimmer is scary and believable, but the "creatures" didn't really do it for me, although technically they were quite well done.

I had this same problem with Ginger Snaps - please resist the urge to turn horror think-pieces into special effects creature features, because it can really change the tone of the film and disrupt the audience's suspension of disbelief.

I would have preferred it if Annihilation had explored the disorientation more, and it was frustrating to see them sideline it after they'd executed it so well in the beginning, giving it the same vibe as the criminally underrated disorientation thriller Coherence (2013).

A lot of the character motivations in the middle section of Annihilation struck me as a bit nonsensical, but Natalie Portman's performance alone makes it worth watching, by far the best thing about the movie. This is mostly an all-female cast, and Portman is playing a version of an action hero. She's genuinely great at it, seems to effortlessly embody her character's quiet confidence and compassion.

I like Alex Garland, how his science fiction is dark enough to qualify as horror, but the ending felt like it didn't really fit, that it was trying to tie a neat bow on something that wasn't quite ready to ship yet. As for the movie in general, I feel like Portman's outstanding performance elevated the material to something better than it probably deserved to be.

All in all I would say this is an above-average movie, not as good as Ex Machina, but better than anything else in mainstream horror right now.
«1

Comments

  • This was a decent flick, I saw it a few weeks back.

    The last 30 mins or so were the best the film had to offer as it took awhile for things to really take off.

    Really dug the mutations especially the tree's and it was definitely a daunting experience at certain times.
  • Good movie, one of the year's best so far.
  • I think it's brilliant and way better than Ex Machina. I was lucky to catch it on the big screen.

    What sets it apart for me, is the performances. They're all quiet, understated and add to the eerie feel. I think the horror is just the right amount to the science fiction, and if you're going into this looking for 'creatures' you'll be disappointed, save for one sequence towards the start of the third act. Speaking of the third act, wow!!

    I also loved the soundtrack, which I've been pretty much-playing nonstop since I've seen it.
  • @gunsrazorsknives Excited.

    So it's on Netflix UK now, but I'm having such a hard time getting over the fact this is the only way I'll be able to see it. :/
    • Guilty Remnant •
  • I really dug it. Had a strong "Colour from Outer Space" vibe. 9 out of 10
  • @Atmosphere it sucks that outside the US and Canada, you can only see it on Netflix. There are some visuals here that are definitely made for the big screen.

    I hope you like it.
  • TexasSnacksTexasSnacks is Certified Rotten
    edited March 15
    This movie is absolutely fantastic. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since watching it. Portman really carries the movie. It combines so many elements of sci-fi, drama, horror, thriller and it is thought provoking. One of those films that the more you watch it the more you discover. I held off rating it but I think it's definitely a 9/10.
  • MaydayMayday - Mega-City One
    Definitely going to stand as one of the best of the year. So much going on, so much to think about. I wish I could justify the expense of seeing it again in the theater. For now, I'll just have to wait for it to come out on DVD so I can watch it over and over.

    Jury. Executioner. Judge.

  • edited March 15
    With the international release on the Netflix it shouldn't be hard to find some good HD streams.

    I saw the movie in the theater last week. I didn't hate it but it's definitely a movie that I'll never need to watch again.
  • MaydayMayday - Mega-City One
    Yeah, well Annihilation tweeted it doesn't absolutely hate you, but never wants you to watch it again. So there. Nyaaahhhh.

    Jury. Executioner. Judge.

  • vigour-mortisvigour-mortis Vancouver, BC
    I hadn't read the book (despite being a fan of Mr. VanderMeer) so I wasn't sure what to expect. I loved the creature in the cabin. Super creepy. Not sure how I feel about the end.
  • MaydayMayday - Mega-City One
    The book is very different than the film. Almost like Garland took the outline of the book and then wrote his own screenplay based on the premise. Kind of like Under the Skin, where the movie differed greatly from the novel except in basic concept.

    Jury. Executioner. Judge.

  • vigour-mortisvigour-mortis Vancouver, BC
    edited March 16
    Ah yes, I had heard that. (I still need to see Under the Skin). I wonder if there will be movies to cover the rest of the books.
  • MaydayMayday - Mega-City One
    I'd love to see sequels, but despite the glowing critical praise, I doubt the film will make enough money for the studio to finance others.

    Jury. Executioner. Judge.

  • vigour-mortisvigour-mortis Vancouver, BC
    Yeah I have a bad feeling you're right. It couldn't have been a cheap film to make (including paying Portman and Isaac).
  • MaydayMayday - Mega-City One
    Yeah, it was a 55M budget. They got like 25M from Netflix for the Euro programming rights, but since it's not getting released in theaters outside of North America and a few other places, it's not going to rack in much money. Sadly, these high quality films that appeal to the thinking public tend not to appeal to the general public, so we're stuck getting them few and far between.

    Jury. Executioner. Judge.

  • edited March 16
    The fact of the matter is Paramount are still pushing the middle of the road movies that are pretty much dead now as a result of the changes in the business over the past years (BO dominance of superhero and franchise filmmaking, rise of streaming services). As much as it pains me to say it, but these are the end times for interesting, moderately budgeted movies to get wide distribution. It's just not going to be viable anymore. That means people like Alex Garland, Darren Aronofsky, Alexander Payne (who have all had big flops for Paramount in the past year) are going to struggle to get their movies made going forward, and most likely will make the move to TV. Prime example is Fincher. The current climate just does not accomodate these types of movies anymore. Fincher obviously realized this and it's why the only projects he's been working on since Gone Girl are Mindhunter for Netflix and a fucking sequel to World War Z. Don't get me wrong, the idea of a big budget zombie flick as directed by Fincher somewhat excites me, but there's no way he would even entertain such a prospect back when he was profiteering off the boom of challenging, independently financed movies in the 90s.

    I've been resisting the "cinema is dead" argument for as long as possible, but with a case like Annihilation - a great, challenging and unique sci-fi that can only find a home on Netflix - it's kind of a thankless job holding onto that rope anymore. I was annoyed at Paramount before, but having now seen the movie, I completely understand why they dumped it. Not because it's a bad movie. It's just a movie that has no market in mainstream cinema anymore.
    • Guilty Remnant •
  • @Atmosphere I kind of agree with what you say. Loads of small, indie films still get theatrical releases. That's why art house movie cinemas exist, but with the rise of Netflix, production companies can now bypass those and save money on advertising and loss of earnings from limited screenings and earn huge money from streaming.

    I think Annihilation would have done alright at the cinema. Alex Garland has become more of a name cinemagoers know of.
  • edited March 16
    @gunsrazorsknives Of course I'm using a generalisation here, I'm not saying that no smaller budget movie can be a hit. But they're becoming few and far between, and most of those are awards movies which benefit from awards season buzz and word of mouth. However, I'm talking about the truly middle of the road pictures (we're talking upwards of 20mil to around 50mil) are such a risk to studios that they're getting virtually wiped out when it comes to domestic BO... like, 'don't even make it on the map' wiped out. Now, a few years ago, if any of these movies so much as broke even or made a relatively good profit, it wouldn't be such an issue. But the problem with the marketplace these days is that it's so unbelievably competitive, moreso than it has ever been, and so mild/moderate numbers just aren't very enticing to the Studios anymore. When you have juggernauts like Disney dominating the world stage, as a result you have every other major studio wanting a slice of the action (as we're now seeing with these poor, ill-fated attempts to ape the success of the Marvel cinematic universe). A24 is kind of singlehandedly holding the torch for small, interesting movies these days, but the only reason they've managed to stay afloat and keep the momentum going is because they keep their budgets very tight. If Garland had gone to A24 with Annihilation, cut the budget in half and used more unknown talent as opposed to like, five established stars, he would of been in with a fighting chance of a success.

    I struggle with the idea of Annihilation doing well in theaters. $11 mil opening weekend is pretty poor, but then that's sort of expected with how little they put into marketing the movie. But even with a bigger ad campaign, I think this was always going to be a tough sell to general audiences. Alex Garland has earned some prestige among the film community, but I'm not sure I buy basic cinemagoers necessarily knowing his name. Natalie Portman? Her BO figures speak for themselves really. High concept sci-fi? Always a huge gamble. I like to imagine a world where everyone would rush out to see this, but I think Paramount in the end made the absolute right call from a business standpoint. Just sucks for us movie fans who wanted to get the theatrical experience.
    • Guilty Remnant •
  • edited March 16
    Also worth noting that the Ellison's and Paramount might have banked more on the movie had Garland been willing to take notes and tweak the movie here and there. I get it, he's an auteur, he wants final cut, and obviously his management was good enough to secure it for him. But not all Studio notes are bad, film is a collaborative medium, and so Garland may have inadvertently shot himself in the foot by refusing to play ball.
    • Guilty Remnant •
Sign In or Register to comment.