Prepare to Be 'Shellshocked' by Annihilation

One critic labels it 'an emotional and mental tightrope'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2018 10:22 AM CST

Often diverging from the Jeff VanderMeer novel that inspired it, Annihilation from writer-director Alex Garland sees five female specialists set out to explore something akin to a force field that has appeared in Florida. Only one man has escaped it, and he's, well, rattled. You might be, too, after seeing the movie, according to critics, who give it a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. More:

  • Annihilation is "ferocious, feral, female-centric," and hopefully just the start of a series, writes Todd McCarthy at the Hollywood Reporter. It appeals to both "fright fans" and "connoisseurs of seriously good filmmaking" with surprises in store for all, "even if you've seen hundreds off science-fiction films." All of the characters "make a strong impression," Natalie Portman especially, he writes.
  • Garland "proves himself once again to be one of science fiction's most exciting, visionary talents" with a "beautiful, riveting sci-fi mystery" you'll be dissecting afterward, writes Adam Graham at Detroit News. There's action, but Annihilation is "slow and deliberately paced," making for "an emotional and mental tightrope, and Portman navigates it perfectly," Graham writes. She is "unnervingly good."

  • The film "is, literally and figuratively, all over the place," but "Garland's goal isn't clarity: it's allusiveness, and a style of entertainment that swings freely between adventure, some of it silly, and serious mystery." He achieves it in a "daringly original" and "unrestrainedly enjoyable" film that's "a shimmering treat from a singular intelligence," writes Joe Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal. This one will make you "think, and feel."
  • It's "astonishing," the "kind of film that leaves you dazzled, shellshocked," writes Leah Greenblatt at Entertainment Weekly. "The dialogue can be stilted and sometimes hokey, in that particularly sci-fi way; characters aren't so much developed as sketched for utility," she writes. "But the overall effect is extraordinary: a lavish, magnificently unnerving visual feast threaded through with well-earned jump scares and real metaphysical force."
(More movie review stories.)

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