‘Annihilation’ is perfect for falling asleep

Ty Davis

Photo courtesy of “Annihilation”

Director Alex Garland may not have the most extensive film career, but the accreditations he has collected have been consistently critically acclaimed. Garland has been behind some of the most popular movies in recent years such as “Dredd,” “28 Days Later,” and “Ex Machina.” Unfortunately “Annihilation” may be the end of a long streak of good decisions.

“Annihilation” centers around a biologist named Lena, played by Natalie Portman, grieving over the loss of her husband, Kane, who is presumed dead after being missing for the past year. However, Kane suddenly returns home one night before being rushed to the hospital after falling incredibly ill. Before reaching the hospital, the ambulance is intercepted by the government and both Lena and Kane are taken into custody.

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After they’re transported to a government facility, a psychologist named Dr. Ventress, played by Jennifer Leigh, explains that Kane was a part of a group of soldiers sent into “The Shimmer,” dubbed so because of the continuously expanding shimmering wall.

The government essentially has no idea what “The Shimmer” is, why it came to Earth or what it is doing. On top of not knowing anything about it, any attempts to probe and investigate it have failed. Everything they had sent in never returned except Kane. To both offer her expertise and possibly find a cure for her husbands illness, Lena agrees to join a squad of four other women, including Ventress, to go into the shimmer to investigate.

The final version of the film has almost no kinetic energy to speak of. It feels like going through the motions, and I kept glancing at my phone to see how much time had passed.

There is nothing explicitly wrong with “Annihilation” by any critical measure. Picked apart and analyzed, each part of the film would be great on their own. The story is one of a kind, the direction is clean, the performances are fine and the story elements are clearly aiming for grandeur. But the entirety feels lifeless and imbalanced.

Showing at: Cinemark Fort Collins 16, Cinemark Movie Bistro and XD, AMC Classic Fort Collins 10

“Annihilation” obsesses over the intricate details and procedure of how exactly the characters do what they do and go where they go that it gives the film a crawling pace. Each act drags on for just a little too long and could have lost a few scenes without seriously affecting the film. 

“Annihilation” suffers from spotty writing in a few key areas, mainly as it relates to characters and themes.

The film tries its best to give ample personality, depth and time to each of the women but instead of becoming invested in all of the characters, none of them end up having any impactful screen presence, not even Portman’s Lena, the protagonist. A clear case of spreading the writing too thin, it would have been to the film’s benefit if even more focus was given to Portman’s character. The character’s are fleshed out but have so little individual impact on the audience you wonder why the writer considered them so important to have in the first place.

Should you watch it? No 

“Annihilation”plays with a lot of themes of life, death, nature, psychology and biology.  The film muses on and talks about these themes consistently, but I am not quite sure it culminates in a grandiose message.

Ty Davis can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @tydavisACW