Annihilation

2018, Uncategorized

Dir. Alex Garland

Starring: Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong, Gina Rodriguez, and Tuva Novotny.

Alex Garland maybe one of the greatest names in contemporary science fiction cinema. As a screenwriter he has given us the likes of 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Dredd, and Never Let Me Go. His directorial debut, Ex-Machina, was adult sci-fi at its best, and showcased how his flair with a camera was equal to his skill with a pen. For me, the big shame of Annihilation is that I didn’t see it in the big screen. Rumours are that the studio behind it thought it was too intellectual to sell to modern day cinema goers, so sold it to Netflix instead. It’s a shame as much of the joy of the movie lies in the details, which are harder to spot if you’re watching on your phone. Yes, I did end the film confused about some things, but that’s the point of a film like this, you’re supposed to question what you saw, it’s supposed to provoke discussion. Too often are audiences treated as dumb, so it’ll be a shame if this becomes the norm for studios.

Annihilation is the story of Lena, played by Natalie Portman, an ex-soldier who is now a teaching academic in the field of biology. Her husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac), is still a soldier, and has been away for two years. Lena fears the worst, but one day Kane shows back up out of the blue. He has no idea where he has been, or how he got home. He starts to become ill and falls into a coma. A government agency soon step in, and tell Lena that Kane was a part of a team who entered The Shimmer, a permeable membrane that has settled around a national park in Florida and is slowly expanding outwards. Kane was the only member to come back. In order to find a solution to what is wrong with Kane, Lena joins a team of three other women scientist to enter The Shimmer.

Annihilation is an ambitious movie. There are ideas in this film that go beyond the normal blockbuster. It follows themes of self-destruction, and re-birth, and explores what it is that drives us as humans. It’s not a perfect film though, it juggles its ideas well for the most part, but doesn’t pay everything off at the end. The thing about it though, is that I saw it last night, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Maybe, it’s too soon to write a review for it, because it really is a film that needs to gestate in your mind. I think this might be my first review with slight spoilers, as it’s a hard film to write around.

It’s a truly feminine film. I mean that in the sense that it’s a feminine story. Nothing happens in this film for no reason, so the fact that it’s four women scientist going into The Shimmer is important. Each moment of this movie is like a puzzle piece, and you need them all to unlock the film. I’ve seen a lot of people who’s questions after the film seem to be on the nature of The Shimmer, on whether it’s an extra-terrestrial weapon or not, I think that misses the point. The questions I was asking were about identity. Is Lena still Lena? I honestly believe the answer to that is yes, and no. Sticking with the themes of destruction and re-birth, Lena isn’t the same Lena as the beginning of the film because she has gone through something, and is now irreversibly changed.

The film is gorgeous to look at. The dreamscape that is The Shimmer, looks incredible. At points being fantastically beautiful, and at other points being terrifyingly hideous. Both the production design and the cinematography are incredible. The special effects can leave something to be desired, especially at the climax of the film, which almost lets the whole thing down. Portman is terrific in the central role, but too many of the other roles feel underwritten. There’s one moment where another character tells Lena all of the groups secrets, and that seems to be it for their development. I’m still mulling over some of the science, and I can’t quite believe it holds up, which isn’t usually a problem as it is just a film, but the ideas of this film are rooted in their science.

Garland has stretched himself, and his budget, and created a fascinating watch. It’s ambitious, but doesn’t always nail it’s ambitions. It’s definitely a film that will stay with me, and that’s what I want from my sci-fi. It’s an emotional story that didn’t quite connect with my emotions. It’s a cerebral film, which will keep you thinking.

7/10

After thoughts: Spoilers Ahead

– The thing that bugs me most is the tattoo. It’s obviously important. It switches from character to character, and Portman has it on her forearm at the end of the movie. If this tattoo is supposed to represent that she’s a doppelgänger then why did she have it before entering the lighthouse. Does that mean she was already a doppelgänger before she entered? I could be part of the DNA being refracted, but Tattoos aren’t programmed into our DNA.

– My overall feeling is that the Lena who came out The Shimmer is the original Lena, but also completely different. The way our body works is that cells constantly replicate and die. So the person you are in five years time is still you, but every cell will be different. Lena’s cells had started to replicate with the mutation so by the end she is a completely different person whether she is a doppelgänger or not. This is a physical manifestation of the battle she is having with herself, and how what she goes through changes her, echoing Sheppard’s dialogue when she talks about the death of her daughter, saying she mourned for two lives, her little girl, and the person she once was.

– The film can be read on many levels. The two I like the most is as a metaphor for cancer. In particular cervical cancer, which is mentioned at the beginning of the film, and which I think ties into the design of the tunnel at the lighthouse. The other way is it looking at it in a very Jungian fashion. Karl Jung talks about how we have to deal with trauma in the sub-consciousness in order to over come it, well this film could be looked at as journey into Lena’s sub-conscious where she has to battle her own self-destructive behaviours in order to overcome the mistakes she has made.

The Most Anticipated Movies Of 2018 – Part Two

2017, Uncategorized

Welcome back! In this post we are looking ahead at 2018, and the movies that we can’t wait to see. If you haven’t seen Part One you can find it by clicking here. For now though we’ll continue to go through the movies which have us excited to go to the cinema over the next twelve months.

 

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A Wrinkle In Time

Every year Disney releases a blockbuster that offers something different. These films unfortunately in recent years haven’t done too well at the box office. Although not financially successful they do offer something unique, and original. Tomorrowland is the perfect example of this. A Wrinkle In Time is Disney’s 2018 offering, and it looks fantastic. With a distinctive look, and a director with a real voice and vision in Ava DuVernay, known for Selma, and documentary 13th, it’s the perfect fit for this space and time bending adaptation of the beloved novel. It also features an all star female cast with Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

 

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Deadpool 2

The merc with the mouth is back in 2018, and we can’t wait to hear what he’s got to say for himself. Proving that adult orientated super hero movies can still make money, Deadpool was the ultra-violent, ultra-funny shot in the arm that the genre needed. Let’s hope that Ryan Reynolds can catch lightning in a bottle again.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

 

 

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Mortal Engines

From producer Peter Jackson, and based on the best selling novels by Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines is a steam punk fantasy where cities are huge moving machines that eat up smaller towns as they scourge the earth. This is sure to be a visual marvel.

Anticipation Level: 6/10

 

 

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Mary Poppins Returns

Some may argue that the original film didn’t need a sequel. They’re probably right, but we’re getting one, and we are excited about it. With Emily Blunt in pitch perfect casting as titular nanny, and the help of Hamilton star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda on co-star and song writing duties, we can’t help but feel this could be a treat of a film for young and old.

Anticipation Levels: 6/10

 

 

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X-Men: Dark Phoenix

It’s always a mixed bag with the x men films. For every X-2 there’s a Last Stand, for every Logan there’s an Origins, and for every Days Of Future Past there’s an Apocalypse. So fingers crossed that mega-producer Simon Kinberg’s directorial debut is one of the better ones. The Dark Phoenix story is one the most well regarded in comic book lore, and even though it’s been adapted partially in The Last Stand, this will be chance to right old wrongs.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

 

 

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Annihilation

Alex Garland, the writer behind films such as 28 Days Later, Never Let Me Go, and Dredd, made his directorial debut in 2014 with Ex-Machina. A gloriously adult, and intelligent sci-if movie which made the most of its one building setting. To follow it up he’s going a bit bigger. Natalie Portman plays a biologist who signs up to enter an environmental disaster zone in search of her missing husband. This could be the break out hit of 2018.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

 

 

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

It’s time to jump back into J.K. Rowlings wizarding world, and this time we know what we’re getting. After an enthusiastic  if  mixed response to the first movie, we now know that we’re following the rise and fall of Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald. After being stopped by Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander in the first film, the sequel will reportedly relocate to Paris, and we will be introcuded to Grindelwalds friend who became an enemy Albus Dumbledore, played here by Jude Law. Harry Potter fans, it’s time to get excited.

Anticipation Levels: 9/10

 

 

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Creed 2

Creed was a complete suprise. A Rocky sequel where Rocky trains his old rivals son had no right to be as good as it was. Now anticipation is heating up for the sequel, with Creed lined up to fight the son of the man who killed his father. Sylvester Stallone co wrote the screenplay, and was going to direct it until he recently stepped down clearing the path for Steven Calle Jr. It will also feature the return of Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

 

 

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Ant-Man And The Wasp

Coming after Avengers is Ant-Man and The Wasp. With Evageline Lily being bumped up to co-headliner the film will follow her and Paul Rudd as they attempt to unravel a mystery to uncover secrets from Hank Pyms past. If it’s anything as inventive as the first movie it’s sure to be a blast.

Anticipation Levels: 8/10

 

 

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Avengers: Infinity War

Possibly the Most Anticipated movie of 2018 is Avengers: Infinity War. The culmination of a twenty year, and 18 film plan. This is what it’s all been leading up to. Thanos has been teased since the first avengers movie, and we are finally going to see the big bad in action. It’s also the film where a lot of our main heros find themselves out of contract, so the stakes are raised as anyone could die. Returning directors Anthony and Joe Russo will have plenty of confidence after smashing Civil War out the park, and the trailer suggests they’ve done the same here. If that’s not enough it’s also going to introduce the Avengers to the Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Anticipation Level: 10/10

 

That’s the end of our Most Anticipated Movies Of 2018. Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below…