Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
My AV System
- Preamp, Processor or Receiver
- Yamaha TRS-5830 Atmos Receiver
- Other Amp
- Peavy IPR 3000 for subs
- Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
- Sony ubx800 4K UHD Player
- Front Speakers
- Cheap Thrills Mains
- Center Channel Speaker
- Cheap Thrills Center
- Surround Speakers
- Volt 10 Surrounds
- Surround Back Speakers
- Volt 10 Reach Surrounds
- Rear Height Speakers
- Volt 6 Overheads
- 2x Marty subs (full size with SI 18's)
- Video Display Device
- JVC RS-46 Projector
- Draper Cineperm M1300 119 inch Static Screen
Alex Garland made HUGE waves in the science fiction community with his feature film debut a few years back. Ex Machina was not the PERFECT film (very few first films ever are), but it was about as close to a perfect robot film as one is likely to get. It was introspective, deep, twisted, and actually was hard sci-fi, instead of the action adventure stuff that the genre has devolved into over the years. I truly loved the film, and it acquired several academy awards as well. Fast forward a few years and now he’s poised to bring another hard sci-fi film to the market with Annihilation, but instead of going with the rise of the bots, switches over to an alien experience. A move which suits his esoteric take on humanity’s struggle within, as well as a vehicle for some absolutely mind blowing visuals. While it may not be his best work, Garland does a good job at keeping his story interesting enough to keep your attentions, and deep enough to require multiple viewings before giving a complete analysis of the film.
Being a mixture of Event Horizon and Solaris, Annihilation is a bizarre sci-fi film that follows a couple through an alien environment on Earth. Lena (Natalie Portman) is seen being debriefed by a group of hazmat wearing scientists for the opening shot of the film, where they state that Lena has been over 4 months inside of “the shimmer”. Shooting back in time we get some backstory, with Lena being shown as a grieving widow for her special ops husband Kane (Oscar Isaac). Only thing is, Kane ISN’T dead, and shows up randomly on her doorstep only to collapse. On route to the hospital Lena and Kane are confiscated by a group of black coated feds, and the young scientist is thrown into a whole knew world. It seems that three years ago a strange phenomenon happened out in the Midwest. A shimmering force field came down over an isolated lighthouse, and has been expanding ever since. Exploration team after exploration team has been sent into the middle to find out what’s happening at the light house, but no one has returned… Until now, with Kane being the first survivor.
Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is building a team to go in once more, and with her husband on life support, Lena volunteers to go in with her. Initial exploration into the shimmer (as it’s dubbed) shows just what they expected. Blocked electronic communication signals. But what they didn’t expect was the strange floral and fauna mutations that dot the landscape. The entire world is being changed from the inside of this ever expanding shimmer, and as the ladies go deeper and deeper into the center of it, they have to come to grips with their own self destructive behaviors. Behaviors that will become instrumental in finding out what is at the very heart of the apparition.
The mental madness of the film is one of the biggest draws, as Garland weaves together a world that is technically familiar to us all, but also becomes alien and foreign the further and further into the shimmer the scientists go. The final act is a mind bender, but one that is actually indicative that Garland had a hard time tying together all of the loose ends of the film. He opens up so many introspective questions and avenues to follow throughout the film, but when he brings forth the big reveal, it’s almost like he can’t figure out to finish up what he started. He also relies a bit too much on esoteric visuals that are meant to be stunningly beautiful and masquerade as deep and intellectual, but really are just a bit too confusing for most mass audiences. HOWEVER, that’s not to say the movie fails completely in the third act. Garland answers enough questions, or gives you the tools to answer some of the questions in such a compact and soft manner that you really need to view the film 2-3 times to get a good grasp of what was going on. I know that my second time through the movie I picked up a LOT more than I did upon the initial viewing, and by the third time I chewed through it (theater, blu-ray, then 4K UHD) I was piecing together a little more of the subtext.
Rated R for violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality
4K Video: Video:
- Refractions – See how director Alex Garland created the tone, textures and color palettes for the various film environments on set.
- For Those That Follow – Listen to the cast's perspective on their roles and learn why they found the story so intriguing.
• Part 2 – AREA X
- Shimmer – See how filmmakers transformed real set locations to create the world of Annihilation.
- Vanished into Havoc – Check out all the action as cast and crew walk you through the mind-blowing stunts and special effects.
• Part 3 – TO THE LIGHTHOUSE
- Unfathomable Mind – Learn why the visual effects are integral to achieving director Alex Garland's overall vision for Annihilation.
- The Last Phase – Listen to the cast and crew share their fondest memories from filming Annihilation.
Annihilation is not a perfect sci-fi film, and it is not as revolutionary as Ex Machina, but it makes a really deep film that renders itself more palatable for the hard sci-fi viewers rather than the masses. It opens many a question door, and gives the audiences tools to answer them, but Garland’s film does suffer from being a bit TOO lofty at times, and flying a bit too close to the sun. It wanted to be Arrival, but came out just short of it. The Blu-ray is a decent disc, but the 4K UHD transfer blows it out of the water, but there is a catch. The 4K UHD disc is exclusive to Best Buy for a few months while the Blu-ray is given a wide release, so if you don’t have a Best Buy near, it might be beneficial to wait until the wide release for the 4K UHD disc. Definitely a good watch.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson
Directed by: Alex Garland
Written by: Alex Garland (Screenplay), Jeff VanderMeer (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Spanish, French DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Runtime: 115 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: May 29th, 2018
Recommendation: Good Watch