• James Rutherford

'Annihilation': The Beguiling Tale of Five Scientists' Perilous Expedition into an Enigmatic Realm


Movie poster for the film Annihilation starring Natalie Portman

Annihilation (2018) is a highly cerebral and beguiling science-fiction horror film starring Natalie Portman as Lena, a cellular biologist and U.S. Army veteran. Stationed at a clandestine government facility codenamed "Area X", Lena is assigned the precarious task of leading an expedition into "The Shimmer"—a mysterious zone created after a meteoroid crashes along the southern coast of the United States.


After Lena's husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) returns from a previous mission into the Shimmer debilitated and is committed to a government facility, Lena is recruited by administrative psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to guide a subsequent journey into the ominous realm. Rounded out by physicist Josie Radek (Tessa Thompson), geomorphologist Cassie Sheppard (Tuva Novotny) and paramedic Anya Thorensen (Gina Rodriguez), the unit penetrates the translucent perimeter and enters an alien expanse of environmental mutation—the DNA of all living organisms increasingly intermingled and transformed.


Adapted by screenwriter-director Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Devs) from the novel by Jeff VanderMeer (the first installment of his celebrated Southern Reach Trilogy), Annihilation is a tantalizing tale of otherworldly infiltration. Garland mines VanderMeer's work to perfection, leading the viewer deep into a hypnotic domain where the laws of nature and science progressively deteriorate. Highly immersive and peppered with sequences of adventure, terror and esoteric provocation, it's a wonderfully unique foray into big screen speculative fiction.

 

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