Annihilation (2018) review

Rated: 5 / 5



Wait, no, that’s not right.  Time must be messing with my head.

Though you should fear what’s inside the previous poster.

Rated: 3 / 5

There, that’s better.

So I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this movie.  Ok, that’s a lie, I knew exactly what to expect in terms of plot.  This is another one of those cases where the trailer spoiled enough to where I could deduce how this movie would go and how it would end, with the film left to fill in some gaps in the middle.  That being said, figuring out where a film is going to go shouldn’t be enough to ruin the whole experience.  Otherwise we wouldn’t be rewatching old favorites.

Like this one.

The one thing I will say is that this film looks great.  A good amount of practical effects and non-CG stuff was put into it to where it looked fantastic, and made things blend in well enough with the CG that was used.  Showing animals and plants and dead things becoming mutated in some strange way, and the world that is made/altered as a result.  It’s great stuff in the looks department.

But anyway, so the film is about an asteroid (or is it a meteor?) that smashes into Earth, into a lighthouse (I’d imagine there’s some symbolism there, a lighthouse guiding a vessel safely to shore, in this case guiding an uninvited vessel).  This asteroid then proceeds to emit purple shit, which expands slowly, threatening to consume the world.  So we send in some military who don’t come back, and then a team of female scientists who have a small amount of combat training (save for Natalie Portman, who has a good amount), to do what men before them could not do.  Women power!  Well I will say this, in terms of assembling a team of female scientists to kick ass and eliminate the (semi) supernatural threat, this film is certainly better than Ghostbusters: Answer the (Cocksucking) Call (and yes, that was the actual title of that movie, you’re just not remembering it right).

Let’s do/study/shoot this shit!

From there they go to learn more than they initially did about this colorful yet dangerous area, because they didn’t receive any information about it previously.  It’s at this point that I realized the film isn’t as intelligent as it thinks it is, 20-30 minutes in.  I mean, for fuck’s sake, you’re telling me no one sent in a team to simply act as a scouting party, not meant to go to the source of the problem, but simply to recon the area close to the (ever-expanding) border before heading back to tell about what they learned?  After attempting to do this for 3 fucking years?  That’s bullshit, especially with all the weird shit that goes on down there.  You would think there would be at least one team that would go, “You know what?  This shit is to freaky for my ass.  We’re outta here.”

That kind of stupidity belongs in low-budget shit like this, not in a theatrical film!

But anyway, so they learn that this asteroid and its aura are causing everything organic to mutate or change in some way.  Plants, animals, organs, cells, etc.  There’s even a pretty damn great and terrifying moment that demonstrates this when they stumble upon some “found footage,” which is a great enough scene to watch the entire movie just for that moment (why can’t we get a found footage film that’s that good?  Hell, why couldn’t we get the found footage version of this movie?  That would’ve been awesome!).  So this first causes them to run into a crocodile that has had minor mutations involving increased size, a weird throat and noise, and shark teeth.

So, a mutated alligator.  What does that remind me of from 1980 and 1991?

While the first film was good, trust me, the 2nd one is not as good as this poster would lead you to believe.

But anyway, aside from the mutated alligator, they also come across a mutated bear.  Alright, come the fuck on!  Surely you can be more original than this!  Haven’t you ever heard of Prophecy, which is pretty much the exact same thing as this movie except with mercury causing all this instead of an asteroid!?  You could’ve given us a giant killer tick or mosquito or bunny, or hell, even a killer plant (even if movies about all of those have already been made; ah fuck it, originality is dead)!  Hell, why not try killing it the way they did in that Prophecy movie?  With a bow and arrow!  You should get one of those bows and arrows Rambo had and blow the shit out of that thing, like what Lara Croft is probably going to do in that upcoming live-action Tomb Raider movie (which looks like ass, and not the good kind).


But I digress, they did some cool things with those animals, which leads to some interesting discussions.  Which brings me to the theme of the film, or at least what I gathered from the meaning.  They ask “why?”  Why is this asteroid thing here?  Why is it doing this?  Why is it causing these changes?  What does it want?  What is it’s purpose?  The answer the film seems to give is that it has no purpose, it wants nothing.  It just came here, and is just doing this just because.  It has no meaning, because life has no meaning.

This theme seems exemplified with the cast members, who each attach their own meaning to the series of events, to the why/how of it all (except for Portman’s character, who goes along with the more nihilistic message of the film).  How one should approach death, how one should approach annihilation.  How one should approach the afterlife, should it exist (in my personal opinion, unrelated to the film’s say on this, there is an afterlife; I may make a post on that sometime in the future).  We, as humans (unless you’re a nihilist) attach meaning to things.  Life, death, events.  There’s a purpose to it all, one way or another.  But is there?  What if we are just a series of responses to responses to responses to chemical interactions that are only natural?  What if there is no meaning to all that happens?  What if change is neither good or bad, it’s just simply change, no better or worse than something that doesn’t change?  Thus I believe the film pushes forth a message that because our attachment of meaning to anything/everything is pointless, change is nothing to be feared.  It just is.

In terms of the acting department, everyone seemed solid, save for Jennifer Jason Leigh, which puzzles me because she’s usually a solid actress.  She doesn’t show any emotion at any point in the film, which I guess is the point, since she plays a character near the end of her life who has seen so many people die that she no longer cares.  But even so, you would think that some of the weird shit that goes on in this movie would get some sort of emotion out of her.  The only conclusion I could come to is that she’s a psychopath, which is something that could’ve been pointed out, adding a dimension to the film as to how a person with no emotion views life.  All that’s really hinted at in that department is a line stated about all the women on the team, “We’re all damaged goods.”

Anyway, while this film isn’t as smart and deep/complex as it thinks it is, it’s still solid enough to be worth at least one watch.  One of the better sci-fi-horror films to come out in a long time (I say this not having seen 2017’s Life, which I heard was just mediocre and not all that special).  Here’s hoping the upcoming remake of The Blob (which is supposed to come out this year) is just as good (I don’t have my hopes up; maybe because this film almost tempts me into becoming a nihilist).

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