Annihilation (7.5 out of 10)
“It’s not destroying.......it’s making something new.”
When it comes to any narrative, whether told through short stories, novels, television shows, films, or any other medium, there tend to be a number of moments throughout the story that the audience (i.e. reader, viewer, etc.) is likely to recall. There could be a thrilling opening sequence that gets things immediately rolling, a key dramatic monologue at the story’s mid-point or, more likely, an action-packed climax. But, more often than not, and for better or worse, what the the audience remembers the most is the ending. Sometimes the story ends with a huge surprise twist, or sometimes it ends with an ambiguous ending to stir the intellect and get the audience member thinking long after the story has ended. For some, the ending may have worked beautifully and on numerous levels, while for others, it may have been a bit of a letdown and hurt what was otherwise a terrifically told story.
With Alex Garland’s sci-fi thriller, “Annihilation,” I found myself leaning more towards the latter. Now, that's not to say I didn't enjoy the film on the whole. Annihilation is a beautiful film with a number of very effective thrills (and a couple truly terrifying and chilling sequences), many thematic layers to stimulate the intellect for those who love heady sci-fi, and some solid to great performances (including what might be one of my favorite performances by Natalie Portman). On top of that, there is a climactic scene near the end that is altogether mesmerizing, beautiful, and unnerving, and a narrative with a healthy dose of ambiguity to keep you guessing right up until the end.
It's that end, though, that I found to be the most problematic part of the film. While there were parts of Annihilation that I felt were a bit derivative of some much older, sci-fi classics, without giving anything away, I'll say the end left me literally saying, "So, it's basically another __________. Hmm, that's pretty lame." I know there will be many who disagree with me and feel the climax and conclusion of Annihilation are the icing on the masterpiece cake, and it does get you thinking a lot about what transpired before, but for me, it was a very good and, at times, brilliant film that ended with a bit of a disappointing thud. For some viewers, and for better or worse, that is the part that they'll remember most. I give Annihilation a 7.5 out of 10.
- Ryan Zeid