Before I give my brief thoughts on Annihilation, if you’ve seen the film please check out this fascinating and fantastic deep dive into the themes of the film.
In comparison, mine is going to be surface level impressions at best and with only minor spoilers). So, let’s begin…
To start with, I am a big Alex Garland fan. I’ve always loved his writing and his first film Ex Machina was my favourite film of the year it was released. I haven’t read the novel, but I was definitely primed for something special.
For most of the running time, I was interested, engaged, and occasionally gripped. But I also felt my brain nagging me about small details. What is their plan? Why is Natalie the only one interested in capturing and studying data? Can’t they just get to the lighthouse from the sea? Why aren’t they photographing and recording everything? Why is there no urgency to share their discoveries?
There was something about the finer details of the characters and the plot that frustrated me a bit. Ultimately, it felt a bit rushed. I wish we had more time to get into the procedural elements. And learn more about the characters who, aside from Natalie, are all underwritten.
Luckily, throughout the film there are moments or heights that are truly impressive. Some of the visuals felt truly unique, although the trailer spoiled most of the best shots. I loved how Natalie carried herself in this film – she’s played a “badass” many times before but the way she moves in this film…she’s not playing a badass, she is one.
One of the moments from the trailer that I really didn’t like, with the bear, actually turned out to be one of the best scenes in the film. Without spoiling anything, they do something with that scene that is so creepily genius that I kind of wished that there was more to that mystery.
So at this point, the film is like a mixed to soft positive from me.
And then the last 20 minutes happens.
And I am blown away.
I’ve been thinking about the ending ever since. It was so unexpected, and moving, and creepy, and powerful. It won’t be for everyone, but Garland shoots for the stars and for me, he hit the bullseye.
So, in summary – a good film with a great ending. And Natalie kicks all sorts of ass.