Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Based on: Jeff VanderMeer’s novel
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong, Oscar Isaac
Seen on: 7.4.2018
Biologist Lena (Natalie Portman) joins a mission into Area X, an area where nature shows strange behavior that nobody is able to explain, after her husband (Oscar Isaac) went missing there. The expedition, led by Dr Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), is supposed to find out more. Anything they can, really. The five women – Lena, Dr Ventress, Josie (Tessa Thompson), Anya (Gina Rodriguez) and Cass (Tuva Novotny) – set off and are soon faced with phenomena that are even stranger than anticipated.
I was very excited about Annihilation, having recently read the books and loved them and having mostly enjoyed Garland’s previous films. But I have to admit that Annihilation was a bit of a let-down for me. It might have been different if I hadn’t read the books, but I’m not sure.
There is so much about the entire thing that was practically custom made for me to love the film. An all female team, mysterious nature, strong visuals and a touch of horror. And those things are certainly there and they are pretty awesome.
I mean, the cast is great, even if the biologist in the novels is an Asian woman (which is only mentioned in book 2 – which apparently Garland hadn’t read as he was adapting because it wasn’t released yet, leading to him casting Natalie Portman in the role, though I doubt if he would have changed that casting if he had known sooner that the biologist was Asian, so), meaning that her character is whitewashed in the film. As is Dr. Ventress, the psychologist, who turns out to be Native American in book 2.
And Garland does manage to creat a wonderfully haunting, unsettling atmosphere that is pretty close to much of the novels. And he has excellent special effects there and some supercreepy creature design. Area X looked mostly gorgeous, even when it was scary.
But nevertheless, it was disappointing for me that the film didn’t include the Crawler (I was looking forward to seeing it on screen) and I have to admit that the ending went from mysterious, as in the books, to mystical – and mysticism just isn’t my drug of choice. Although the bigger problem for me was that I don’t think they were being quite as mystical and deep as they thought they were, making it feel a little hollow.
I just didn’t get pulled into the film as much as I would have liked. I was hoping for a little more.
Summarizing: It’s not bad, it just isn’t as good as the novels.