Movie: Annihilation (2018)

My Thoughts While Watching

As always, tread lightly, there be spoilers.

I had a recurring thought: Please don’t allow this to be considered Oscar worthy.  I skimmed an article somewhere that mentioned this was what we all needed, this movie. I hope to find that article, reach out to it’s author and to ask that person why they thought so highly of the movie?

A meteor (? – maybe just an alien ball of light) hits a lighthouse and then starts refracting light, DNA, everything – and “grows”.  Because the iridescent nature of the area has a shimmer to it, that is what they call it – The Shimmer.  I was hoping for this to be more visually stunning. I thought they would CGI the hell outta some colors and iridescence and whatnot. But they really did not.  There were growths on the trees at one point, mid-movie. I thought to myself, some prop guy super glued those to the three and thought that was the best he could do.

A group of men go in, fail and mostly kind of die.  One was the husband of Lena (Natalie Portman) and as the military tries to contain that someone(thing) came back, they realize she can be utilized in the all-girl team.  I did like the idea of an all female crew heading out there – they had all of the key elements: scientist, protector, healer and innocent.

You confuse suicide with self-destruction.

Let’s talk about the scope of the area this thing had devoured when we are introduced to the Shimmer.  It took them eight days to walk across it.  I cannot suspend enough belief to not think that someone somwhere would notice that swath of land glowing in the dark and eating people.  And if this alien was going to clone us, it would be some stupid rubbernecker who wanted a closer look at the carnage because people are just horrible.

There was a scene with Josie (Tessa Thompson) where she discusses with Lena the shrubs that are beautifully flowered and in the shape of humans – I would like to call the greenhouse down the road and see if they can order me up a couple of those for my yard!  I loved that part.

My favorite part of the whole move: I grew up on 70s horror gore.  You do not see a lot of good gore in modern movies.  In this movie, in the scene where Anya (Gina Rodriguez) is attacked by a beast created out of the DNA of a fallen comrade and eventually succumbs to her injuries – the gore in that scene was visually stunning in all the right gore ways.  Also, the death of the beast that killed her – equally gore stunning.

If you ever get out of here, find Lena. My fan theory: Kane knew that his wife cheated.  He knew that he was going to die.  And he was seeking revenge, knowing that the Kane-clone would go seek her out.  That she ended up in the world that killed him – vindication.  (I gest… but seriously, as far as theories go, I have seen worse for movies).

It was making something new.

You aren’t Kane, are you?

I don’t think so.

Are you Lena?

no answer – embrace – laser eyes – fades to grey JUST before Annihilation!

I did not think it was a great movie. It was not the worst one I ever saw.  I will not buy it for my collection. It is doubtful I would hover on the channel when it hits HBO and I am surfing.  It was a one-off movie for me.  I would rank it a C-.

Some Interviews and Extra Video:

IMDB Synopsis: <Insert IMDB for movie>


Lead Actress:  Natalie Portman

Supporting Female: Jennifer Jason Leigh

Supporting Female: Gina Rodriguez

Supporting Female: Tessa Thompson (yes, that is Chief Webber’s niece from Grey’s Anatomy, the one they threw a prom for! Supporting Male: Benedict Wong

Supporting Male: Oscar Isaac

Director: Alex Garland


1 Ugh – 2 Meh – 3 I don’t hate it? – 4 That was solid. – 5 Loved It!

Cinematography: 2

Costume Design: 3

Film Editing: 2

Makeup and Hairstyling: 2

Music: 4 – I did like the gentle guitar that was the underlying score throughout the movie.

Production Design: 2-3

Sound Editing/Mixing: 3

Writing: 2

Overall: 20.5 out of 40



Additional Movie Info:

It received a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 87% Fresh.  It received a Rotten Tomato audience rating of 68% liking it.  Average Rating: 3.6/5 with a number of User Ratings: 7,63.0

Movie Reviews:

Specs:  Release date: 23 February 2018 (USA) / Runtime: 115 minutes / Budget: $40M

IMDB Trivia:

  • Due to a poorly received test screening, David Ellison, a financier at Paramount, became concerned that the film was “too intellectual” and “too complicated,” and demanded changes to make it appeal to a wider audience, including making Portman’s character more sympathetic and changing the ending. Producer Scott Rudin sided with Garland in his desire to not alter the film, defending the film and refusing to take notes. Rudin had final cut.
  • On December 7, 2017, it was announced that due to the clashes between producer Scott Rudin and David Ellison, a financier at Paramount, and the shift in Paramount’s leadership, a deal was struck with Netflix handling international distribution rather than releasing the film in theaters. According to this deal, Paramount would handle the U.S. and China release, while Netflix would begin streaming the film in other territories seventeen days later.
  • Oscar Isaac filmed this movie and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) on adjacent studio lots. He had the same trailer for both films and would often film scenes for both movies on the same day.
  • Director Alex Garland decided not to reread the novel “Annihilation.” Instead, he decided to adapt it “like a dream of the book.”
  • Prior to its release, the film drew some criticism for the casting of Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh as characters who are, in the books, described as Asian and half-Native American. Garland explained that none of the five female characters’ ethnicity is revealed in the first book, which is the only one of the trilogy he has read, and that the script was actually complete before the second book was published. He cast the characters based on his reaction only to the actors he met in the casting process, or actors he had worked with before. Because he wanted to take the story in his own direction, he did not read the other two books while making the film in order to not be influenced by them.
  • This film was based on the first book in the “Southern Reach” trilogy.
  • The book Lena is reading during a scene with Kane is called “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” which is about an immortal cell known as HeLa, which was taken from Lack’s cervical cancer cells in 1951.
  • The house they camp at in the Shimmer is the same house that Lena lives in outside the Shimmer.
  • The snake tattoo that appears on Lena’s wrist is not there before she enters the Shimmer. It also appears on Anya’s wrist and the body of the soldier killed on the wall in the building they enter. The tattoo is a symbol of a snake eating itself, which ties into the film’s theme of self-destruction.
  • The character names in this film, “Ventress,” “Thorensen,” “Radek” and “Sheppard,” are identical to those in the novel “The Crystal World” by J.G. Ballard. In the novel, a physician takes a journey through Africa, taking him through a forest which seems to expand. Notably, it is described that the forest and its inhabitants start to crystalize. At the end of the film, the lighthouse is surrounded by crystal trees
  • In an interview with, Annihilation (2018) visual effects supervisor Andrew Whitehurst said they gave the horrific mutated bear creature from the movie a name. Whitehurst served as VFX supervisor at visual effects house Double Negative when the company worked on the movie Paddington (2014), which is about a talking stuffed bear. Whitehurst said Paddington is a very nice bear named after Paddington Station in London, which is a very elegant Victorian station, so they named the mutant bear in this film “Homerton,” which is a slightly rough-around-the-edges station in East London.

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