The shimmery world of ‘Annihilation’


Yasmine Castaneda,

If you are planning on watching the new science fiction film, “Annihilation,” be prepared for a weird, intriguing and unsettling world. The film examines our self-destructive nature and looks at how emotions such as depression, grief and sadness push people to their limits.

“Annihilation” is directed by Alex Garland and is a follow-up to Garland’s award-winning directorial debut, “Ex Machina.” The film has received mixed reviews from mainstream audiences that suggest the film is intellectually complex and the plot may be too difficult to understand. The first trailer was released on Sept. 27, 2017.

I was excited about the film when it first came out, but I agree with the critics: it’s too confusing. I don’t know what the film is trying to tell us, or what I’m supposed to get out of it. One aspect I really enjoyed was the visual element of the film which included the shimmery world of Area X, the various genetic mutations throughout the film and the overall production value.

The film, which was released Feb. 23, is based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novel from his Southern Reach Trilogy. There is one major change that readers have spotted so far that differ from the book. In the novel, none of the characters are ever given actual names but are rather called out by their profession. The women on the team are successful career driven individuals; one is a biologist, psychologist, anthropologist, a paramedic and a geologist.

“Annihilation” stars Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Oscar Isaac and Benedict Wong. In the film, each woman’s character is given a name.

“Annihilation” opens with Natalie Portman’s character Lena who teaches microbiology at John Hopkins University while her husband Kane, played by Oscar Isaac, goes off on various government missions. One night Kane comes home distraught and unable to hold a conversation. His reunion is cut short as a military team quickly ambushes the couple and takes them into what seems like custody. Lena is then taken by gunpoint to a military medical research unit, close to a natural park where “occurrences” are said to happen. This “park” is called Area X.

Previous expeditions have gone through Area X, which has the tendency to have different effects on crewmembers both mentally and physically. Crew members on Area X expeditions have reported hallucinations and being overrun by mutations including a gigantic alligator and a talkative bear. The film ends at a lighthouse that holds the answers to the whole warped universe.

On Dec. 7, 2017, a deal was struck with Netflix handling international distribution. According to this deal, Paramount will handle the US and China release, while Netflix would begin streaming the film in other territories 17 days later on March 12.

In the United States and Canada, “Annihilation” was released alongside “Game Night” and “Every Day.” The film was projected to gross $10–12 million from 2,012 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $3.9 million on its first day, including $900,000 from Thursday night previews at 1,850 theaters. “Annihilation” ended up making $11 million over the opening weekend, finishing fourth behind “Black Panther,” “Game Night” and “Peter Rabbit,” according to Deadline Hollywood, an online magazine.

As of March 11, the film has grossed over $26 million domestically since its Feb. 23 release date according to Box Office Mojo. The film runs at 1 hour and 55 minutes and had a $40 million budget. The film was ranked the fourth box office movie for its opening weekend, now at weekend three, the film is ninth on the list.

If you are interested in watching “Annihilation” be prepared to be left with many questions and few answers. The film will leave you with various interpretations but not one clear explanation.