VIDEO: See Tim’s review of “Annihilation” with Zachery Lashway on KARE 11.
Natalie Portman makes a rare appearance outside of her largely dramatic film career with “Annihilation,” a thought-provoking sci-fi thriller that elevates the genre to the next level.
Portman plays Lena, an expert biologist who joins a secret expedition to investigate an alien phenomena call “The Shimmering,” a prism-type of barrier that surrounds a huge quarantine zone in the Florida wild. Many people have entered The Shimmering but no one has returned, apart from Portman’s husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac), who emerges in a zombie-like state and on the verge of death.
Once inside The Shimmering, Portman and her fellow expeditioners (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson among them) discover everything inside the dreamlike zone from plant to animal life mutates, leaving Lena and the team in a desperate situation to discover its mysteries since borders of the quarantine zone are rapidly expanding and consuming everything around it.
A brilliant follow-up to his stunning debut “Ex Machina” with Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson and Issac, “Annihilation” feels refreshingly original, even though it draws from many sources including “Arrival,” “Alien” and “The Thing.” It’s hauntingly atmospheric, as well as very violent and bloody at times, yet it’s definitely not a typical sci-fi film. Instead, it mirrors the greatness of “The Outer Limits” and “The Twilight Zone,” but with the benefit of a bigger budget.
Defying sci-fi film convention (in a welcome shift, the film’s protagonists are a group of five females with scientific backgrounds instead of the usual group of macho male lunkheads spewing one-liners), “Annihilation” ultimately offers a narrative much more cerebral and thought-provoking, and the conclusion leaves as many questions as there are answers — something that makes sense since it’s based on the first book in author Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy. With any luck, “Annihilation” will do well enough at the box office so Garland can complete the thrilling tale.
Lammometer: 8 out of 10
AUDIO: Hear Tim’s review of “Annihilation” and “Ash vs. Evil Dead” Season 3 with Tom Barnard on “The KQ92 Morning Show” (segment begins 2 minutes in).
Tim Lammers reviews movies weekly for The KQ92 Morning Show,” “KARE 11 News at 11” (NBC), WCCO Radio, “The Tom Barnard Podcast” and “The BS Show” with Bob Sansevere.
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