If you have access to Netflix you have a treat in store.
Annihilation is Alex Garland’s second movie as director/writer after the Oscar nominated Ex-Machina and joins his writing portfolio that includes The Beach, Sunshine and 28 Days Later – all Danny Boyle movies.
Starring Natalie Portman (usually pretty bland and fairly much so here) and the superb Jennifer Jason Leigh (who plays it down in this) it’s a full on girl power let’s take on the aliens movie without any aliens.
The story concerns five female scientists who are sent into a strange growing entity called ‘The Shimmer’ on the coast of the USA hat hat has already chewed up and spat out a bunch of marines and inexplicably threatens life on earth. In its early days it needs dealt with and female scientists may hold the key.
Inside ‘The Shimmer’ we find a world where DNA is ‘refracted’ in such a way that flora and fauna swap DNA and the resultant organisms range from extremely beautiful to hideously malformed. These along with a breakdown in the scientists’ own DNA and organ tissue (leading to madness) form the threats to their existence as the seek the source of ‘The Shimmer”.
In many ways the concept is pretty close to standard fare but it is treated intelligently. (Too intelligently, it seems, for the US test cinema audience who didn’t ‘get it’ and so it was released straight to Netflix.) Portman’s back story adds interesting colour and fleshes the movie out without intruding.
Maybe they tested int in the heart of Trump country because it’s not that tricky. Anyway, cinema’s loss, your gain. It’s a cracking yearn, well acted, well scripted, clever and stunningly shot. My wife, who doesn’t go for sci-fi ordinarily, loved it.
Garland is a great ideas man and is already a gifted director. This is a sound addition to his canon of work and I highly recommend it.