As kids most of us would color in some way or another and the rule we would always hear was to color inside the lines. I mean sure coloring within the lines is cool if you like to conform, but come on, letting lose and ignoring those lines is like living on the wild side. Studios are a lot like your elementary art teacher because they want filmmakers that will stay in their line and make the “safe” picture. Every once in a while they will let someone loose and that’s when you get a film like “Annihilation”.
The man behind this work of art is Alex Garland who directed the film you told all your friends they should see in “Ex Machina”. In his latest we meet Lena (Natalie Portman) who is a biologist and a professor at John Hopkins, and who doesn’t look too engaged with life right now. The reason so is because she lost her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) to the military, but during a weekend at home she finds out that is not true. Kane shows up like nothing has happened, but he is not the same Kane she knew. When he starts to get sick and is taken to a hospital they are intercepted by military. It is at a secret location that Lena is shown what Kane’s mission was and her own interest is peaked to what she is seeing. When she meets some other woman at the facility she discovers they are set to explore what is called “the shimmer” themselves. Knowing that the answer to what happen to her husband could be in there she joins the other three women who are led by Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) as they enter the unknown.
As I mentioned above, “Annihilation” really is a work of art, because like most art it may invoke a different feeling within each person who sees it. This film though is not only a feast for your eyes, it also is one for your brain, a combo that is not usually seen together in movies. Like with “Ex Machinia” there is a deliberate pace and feel to it as Garland lets you absorb what is happening in front of you. When it is all done you want to soak it all in and you are left to think about what you just saw. The story is not the only thing that is magnificent, as the cast shines. Portman is this generation’s Ripley as she is someone you want with you in a dark alley , but the rest of the cast are no slouches. Joining her is Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotony, and the above motioned Jason Leigh and who all shine in their roles. “Annihilation” is smart Sci-Fi at its best as after viewing it, it will serve for a great conversation piece with the friends you see it with. For me this solidifies Garland one of the keepers of the Sci-Fi world and hope he plans to stay for a while.