The sci-fi genre often transports us to worlds we couldn’t even imagine existing with societies and creatures that have accomplished things that are far beyond what we have achieved thus far. Annihilation succeeds in giving viewers this feeling and brings a talented cast to explore a beautiful, yet eerie, world that audiences will only want to know more about. However, it also carries a group of characters full of tropes and a plot that can fly over people’s heads.
The film follows the story of an army biologist, Lena (Natalie Portman), as she takes a group of intelligent and capable women (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez) into “The Shimmer.” As the women walk through the contaminated area, they begin to see mutations with the plant and animal life that surround them. While they are there for scientific purposes, Lena carries a hidden agenda to discover what happened to her husband (Oscar Isaac) after he reappears from “The Shimmer.” But as they walk further in, they discover something stronger than they imagined.
“The Shimmer” is both strikingly gorgeous and horridly lonely, making viewers feel trapped yet still interested in seeing what they will encounter next. It’s a unique environment for a sci-fi film to explore and is definitely one of Annihilation’s strongest elements.
Audiences will also feel interested in what this group of women is capable of. It’s very rare to have a strong female presence in a sci-fi film, as it is mostly a male dominated genre, but Annihilation shows that there is potential for other films to follow in its footsteps. However, this unique feature is sadly brought down because these characters are whittled down to typical tropes seen throughout the genre. This unfortunately makes the characters feel less unique and leads to some pretty straightforward performances.
The group’s journey is relatively interesting and audiences will be at the edge of their seats as they go deeper into “The Shimmer” and the discoveries get bigger. But some of the film’s biggest moments are sometimes undercut and lack any sort of impact on our views of the characters. Not to mention, it also makes audiences not feel much for the characters even after some of their skeletons are revealed.
Annihilation also has a very sophisticated and scientific heavy plot that attempt to make moments in the film more grounded. But these moments might confuse the average movie-goer and make them feel like they really are not too sure what is happening. At times this can add a sense of mystery to the film, but others it can feel a highbrow.
Overall, the film’s character tropes take away from the beautifully haunting world that audiences will want to see more of. Regardless, Annihilation is a great, new entry to the sci-fi genre and give viewers a world they can escape to.