Annihilation (2018)

Review by CJ

Alex Garland

Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny

Other notable appearances:
Benedict Wong, Oscar Isaac, David Gyasi

Running time:
115 minutes

Watch this if you liked:
Interstellar, Contact, A Wrinkle in Time


When biologist Lena’s (Portman) husband returns from a covert military mission with a life-threatening condition, she must enter ‘The Shimmer’, an invasive anomaly that is continuously expanding, to save his life.

I found Annihilation to be a visually spectacular film with a good concept. Unfortunately, I also found that it lacked the engagement and enthusiasm that could have really made the film entertaining.

The characters in Annihilation are hollow and have almost no development. Their back stories are flung together in throw away conversations or dull flashbacks that don’t reveal enough about them to give them any depth or humanity. The performances are lacklustre which seems odd to me given how many award winning and talented actors are featured. This makes me feel like the bland personas were a directional choice or to do with the dialogue … or all of the actors were just having synchronised and consecutive bad days.

The end of Annihilation is left unresolved, but by that point I didn’t care because I wasn’t concerned about the characters and was apathetic about their fate. You can have the best plot twist in history (this film didn’t), but if the characters are uninteresting and bland, it comes down to the simple question — who cares?

If the character building in Annihilation was half as well done as the world building, we would be having a very different conversation. Aesthetically Annihilation is effective and gorgeous. Even the monstrous aspects of it are a delight to watch.

If you enjoy watching films for purely visual reasons, then Annihilation is a good case study for surreal effects, interesting creature design and otherworldly aesthetics. But if you’re after an interesting science fiction film or thriller with good characters and development, you’re better off looking elsewhere.


“Ventress wants to face it. You want to fight it. But I don’t think I want either of those things.”

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