Annihilation (2018)


At the very beginning of the film, we see a meteorite falling on a swampy area where a lighthouse stands out. After two years, some kind of shimmering curtain descended on that area, creating a boundary between our known world and the unknown. Experts from numerous fields gathered to investigate the phenomenon, but after a year they are no closer to explanations – military expeditions were unsuccessful, technology within that space cannot send data outside, and the curtain is taking up more and more space.

The story revolves around Lena (Natalie Portman), whose husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) is a military man whose missions are not talked about publicly. She has not heard anything about him for a year, has not received information from military officials and concludes that he died in action. Just as she began to get used to life without him, Kane showed up at home, with no memory of the mission, where he had been all along and how he had returned. In vain they start coughing up blood, and on the way to the hospital they are stopped by a team of special forces and taken to the secret area Area X…

Just as Ex-Machina was a kind of rarity in the world of mainstream sci-fi films, so is the case with Annihilation, in which the author fully embraces the concepts of the uncertain and the unknown. Lena’s character gives us a great and, above all, rational answer to the question which is the explanation of what we watched (I don’t know), but that does not mean that the story and all the events in the film do not make sense, on the contrary. Most of the scenes in the film have logic and meaning, they evoke the point of uncertainty, and because of that, we were deprived of answers, which belong to an unknown area. However, I must mention that most of the dialogues are meaningless to me, not because we rarely learn anything from them, but because they act as if they are there just to say something.

Due to the lack of answers, it remains for us to discover the motives and background of everything that is happening on the screen. Everything is shrouded in a veil of mystery, the space under the curtain is filled with a mixture of primordial beauty and inexplicable fear, while the scenes of miraculously changed living beings change. Inside that space is a quintet of ladies who, except for Line, have no elaborate characters. She mourns the fate of her husband, and we understand the reasons for her eventual guilt that he came to this situation through several scenes of flashbacks, while we know nothing about the others except their occupation and the fact that, in a way, their roses do not bloom.

An important segment of the film are the notions of suicide and self-destruction. According to one of the heroines, self-destruction is completely natural, practically biological because it starts from our cells, and all they have to do is decide how to act against it – to fight, to flee or to simply accept it. The philosophical aspects of the film reach their climax in the very end, which can be interpreted in different ways. Annihilation creates a functional explanation for everything that happens under the curtain, we follow the research process and attempts at understanding. It is logical to expect something to remain beyond our comprehension, but I believe that most viewers will not be satisfied with the ending.

The film was well received from both the acting and technical aspects. The appearance of Natalie Portman raises the whole project to a higher level, and she is well supported by Oscar Isaac and Jennifer Jason Leigh. As I mentioned, the characters next to Lena are not characterized and the dialogues are not too elaborate, so the actors did not have too much material to work with, which is especially true of the other female characters. As for the visual effect, the result of the cooperation between the five companies is really impressive, which proves once again that Garland can make a visually luxurious film with relatively little money.