A biologist (Natalie Portman), a psychologist (Jennifer Leigh), a physicist (Tessa Thomspon), an anthropologist (Tuva Novotny), and a paramedic (Gina Rodriguez) embark on an expedition into "The Shimmer", a mysterious quarantined zone. Our take: See it in theaters if you like pretty things, but skip it completely if you can't handle frustrating plots. Post credit scene? No. Not your standard sci-fi flick, Annihilation has a slow but promising start. It is full of excellent performers that give the caliber of performance you'd expect from them - Portman stands out, but the rest of the female ensemble all hold their own while facing their personal demons and also facing a weird, and a seemingly hostile alien landscape invading Earth. Rodriguez is probably the most surprising. From her hair to her attitude she's 100 miles away from Jane Villanueva, the role she's probably most well known for. Stunning visually, yet not quite on par with Avatar's Pandora, it features the same sort of colorful flora and fauna. The score is compelling and well-matched to the film. But ultimately, it loses itself in convoluted science mumbo-jumbo and truly bizarre alien stuff. There are too many plot holes throughout to make a satisfying film. If you're looking for answers, you'll be sorely disappointed in the few if any, you receive. The "science" is shoddy at best. Only a few brief lines of dialogue are afforded to explaining the mutations in "the Shimmer" and they are unsatisfying and incomplete. It doesn't come off as the sort of movie you would be able to understand if you were just a little smarter, or a bit more well-read, instead it seems as if the issues it has are largely narrative. The screenplay purposefully doesn't give enough information and rather than feeling bogged down by too much science and explanation, we were distracted by the lack of it. The film just - got too weird too fast. And there wasn't enough good in it to make up for that. We're all for strong female ensemble films. We're all for talented WOC playing scientists and doctors. We're also all for smart and well-written sci-fi. This just didn't deliver.
A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don't apply.
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April 6, 2019