Review: Annihilation

Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuva Novotny, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson in Annihilation

The alien DNA that crashes into Earth in Annihilation is going to engulf and destroy everything human! Unless Natalie Portman as cell biologist Lena can save the world! There are some spoilers ahead.

I really enjoyed Annihilation. It’s worth seeing for the 5 female leads: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuva Novotny, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson. These five women voluntarily go into “the shimmer.” Nobody has come back from the shimmer in 3 years.

That’s not exactly true. Lena’s husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) came back. He wasn’t really Kane, but he looked like Kane. He spewed a spectacular amount of blood all over the place. He was snatched from an ambulance and taken to Area X, a secret installation trying to stop the shimmer. Lena followed.

Tessa Thompson in Annihilation
Gene editing gone wild.

Thinking she’ll find the real Kane, Lena volunteers to join a team going into the shimmer. Like Lena, each person had a reason for going. Once they were in there, they realized that the thing that landed near a lighthouse was changing the DNA of the plants, the animals, and the humans who got close. You can see on Tessa Thompson’s arm in the screen grab above that something is going on inside her body.

Not only was it changing everything around the lighthouse, it was expanding. The gene machine was going to eat up the whole world. It would make all the humans go nuts, just like the women who went into the shimmer following the others did.

Crystal growths in Annihilation
Salt crystals growing like trees were among the many visual effects that made Annihilation intriguing.

The look of Annihilation was fabulous. Great special effects. The plants, the frightening or fanciful animals, the very air: everything looked different when overtaken by alien DNA.

Lena flees from ground zero of whatever alien entity landed near the lighthouse.

We begin the film with Lena, and we end it with her. We see her dreams (often about sex) and learn her backstory as we move slowly into the alien landscape. People get hurt along the way. Lena wants to go back – get out. Perhaps the others don’t. Perhaps the others are actually there out of an impulse to self-destruct.

Lena in an isolation chamber with men in protective suits.
Are you still Lena?

When Lena returns, everyone is afraid of her. They want to know what she remembers, what she did, what everyone else did. She doesn’t have many answers. Alien DNA makes you forgetful.

The ending both suggests that the shimmer was destroyed, and that it was not. The book the film is based on was the first in a trilogy. Will there be an addition to the gene editing alien story?

I recommend this exciting sci-fi thriller with its 5 woman lead characters. It’s a goosebumpy ride. The film is available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other streaming sources.

Watch the trailer here. That post contains some background information as well as the trailer.

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