Movie review: Annihilation
Presentation of Annihilation
Hello guys! I wanted to talk to you about a new movie that really bewildered me. Its name is Annihilation, it was produced by Alex Garland and has been released on Netflix since the 18th of March 2018. This is a sci-fi/thriller movie starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac (You may have seen him in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the previous one, The Force Awakens playing Poe Dameron).
The No-Spoil part
Lena (Natalie Portman) is a biologist and a former U.S. Army soldier, she's also married to a soldier, Kane (Oscar Isaac), but he has disappeared for 1 year during a secret mission until the day, he mysteriously reappears in their home. He can't remember anything and she doesn't recognize her husband in him. At that point, she discovers the "X zone" where a mysterious shimmer has been developing around a lighthouse in South America.
Inexplicable phenomena occur in that zone and the previous military squads have been missing since they were sent in it apart from Lena's husband who got himself out. She decides to join an expedition squad composed by 4 other women, the psychologist Dr. Ventress and leader of the expedition (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Anya (Gina Rodriguez) who is a paramedic, Josie (Tessa Thompson), a physicist and Cass Sheppard (Tuva Novotny) who is an anthropologist. As the four women are progressing in this shimmer, they will face many strange and dangerous phenomena.
The first scene is really puzzling: we saw Lena in a closed hermetic room interrogated by men in hazmat suits and some looking at her behind a window as if she was a dangerous infected beast. As spectators, we are asking ourselves: who is this woman and what did she do to be in that room?
The Spoil part (do not read it if you want to discover the movie by yourself!)
All the movie is alternating scenes from flashback with Lena's husband, the expedition in the shimmer and the present time with the interrogation. So I was a bit lost at first because of all these changes in time. I was as lost as her when she saw her husband coming back to her after 1 year of disappearance. He is badly ill and is most likely to die. Progressively, she and the spectator discover what happens to him. First, she is sent to the shimmer with the 4 women's crew.
First mysterious thing: after they have entered the shimmer, they wake up in a camp without remembering anything of what they did the previous days in it. They continue to move on and discover strange mutations in flowers, animals as if their genes are continuously evolving.
They come across strange beasts. Josie is almost caught by a big crocodile with shark's teeth. Then, they fall onto the base of the previous team in which a video is left for the next expedition crew. We see Kane in this video (Lena's husband) opening the guts of another soldier, a particular gore scene where the guts are in fact moving like a snake inside the man. The women find the room where the man was opened and see that a sort of germ has been developing inside and around him deforming its body.
Afterward, they decide to settle in the base for the night, they choose an oversight cabin near the fence but a terrible thing happens. Cass is dragged into the forest by a thing looking like a giant bear. Overtaken by the events, Josie and Anya want to go back but Dr. Ventress and Lena do not agree.
After a small argument, they go on and find the body of Cass, definitely dead in the forest. When the nights falls, they stop in a house and during their sleep, Anya has been attaching the three other women on chairs, she has definitely lost her mind and during her moment of madness, the giant kind-of- bear appears again in the house, looking very horrible.
Anya attacks it and gets herself killed until Josie brings down the beast. Before the sun rises, Dr. Ventress decides to pursue the expedition on her own to the lighthouse while Josie and Lena stay a little around the house. Josie decides to kill herself by making one with the foliage like she was merged in it. A peaceful way to die in comparison with Anya's death. Then, Lena makes it until the lighthouse in which she finds a camera and a body to the opposite side of the room. She watches on this camera a video of Kane ending his life with a luminous hand grenade and talking to a clone of him, asking him to find Lena. She understands that the man who came back to her is definitely not her husband but the clone who Kane is talking to.
In a hole in the room, she hears the voice of Dr. Ventress and finds her completely mad, then she burst into a strange flying luminous cell in front of Lena.
The cell is, in fact, aspirating the genes of Lena, in order to form an identical her. Lena tries to fight it but cannot and decides to destroy it but putting in her clone's hands a grenade. The clone imitating Lena's slightest movements puts the lighthouse on fire destroying the alien creature and all around it, thus the shimmer too.
Lena goes back to the base that was outside the shimmer and is interrogating about how her companions have been lost and how she destroyed the lighthouse and the alien phenomenon. Then, she meets Kane's clone and the movie ends with their embrace and a strange light in Lena's eyes that could mean that the alien cell is inside her. But who really knows because the movie ends in a really mysterious way.
My impressions about the movie
At first, I was afraid that Annihilation was just another sci-fi movie about aliens who want to replace humans, who want to fight them. But I got really captivated by the movie as the plot was progressing. It is not just a classic alien movie. In fact, we don't see "proper" aliens with the usual stereotypes of the genre. Flashbacks are well placed and at the end of the movie, we can all put it together and fully understand the relation between Kane and Lena and moreover, we understand the plot.
I particularly enjoyed that the crew was entirely composed of women, showing them as different characters with their own personality. I only regret that Lena's character wasn't enough deeper. The end lets us puzzled and makes us think about the all plot, the alien mysterious phenomenon and what Lena has become after the expedition.
In conclusion, a really good movie that I recommend if you want something to make you cogitate a little bit!