Gonger Reviews: Annihilation
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, and Oscar Isaac
Synopsis: Biology gets all twisted up when an alien (???) shows up and takes a sight seeing tour of the Southern Reach. Five ladies of science enter this twisted region to investigate the odd phenomenon and perhaps learn something about themselves. Its like The Thing (1982) meets Stand by Me (1986). Heart warming and terrifying!
Directing: I was looking forward to Alex Garland's follow-up to the epic Ex Machina (2014). I wasn’t disappointed. He creates a terrifying (I wasn’t scared - nothing scares the Gonger!!!) and cerebral flick with a surprising colour pallet. You can tell this guy sees beyond the box and thinks in a infinite world of possibilities when it comes to film. It's actually a very refreshing science fiction. 2/2
Writing: I never read the book on which this film is based, written by Jeff VanderMeer, but I get the idea that the book is probably far more psychological terrifying. Like I said “I wasn’t scared (cause nothing scares the Gonger!!!)” but I get why this is scary. It may have been the studio, it may have been writing for time, but I think it lost something in the transfer from page to script. It's ok though because the dialogue is heavy and the plot had me engaged the whole time. 1.5/2
Editing: It’s a little funny. I have a feeling Barney Pilling cut this flick to fit the narrative of the film. Its a little disorienting but not unwatchable by any means. Perhaps he breaks the laws of editing physics mashing scenes with genes and genes with beans! Go see the flick and you’ll get that joke. Or don’t and live in a world of darkness, a world of mouth-breathers that talk during movies and only see disaster flicks with titles like Hurricane Heist about exactly what the title suggests! ! What?! There is a movie called that! Coming out this year! Good! You movie talkers can go to that one and talk about nothing together! What where we talking about again? Oh yeah, editing. Yeah it was good... 1.5/2
Cinematography: Rob Hardy shoots an eerie feeling visual with ominous lighting. What interesting is how much light is used; this could be classified as a sub-horror film. Usually light is given as a safe heaven for our characters but not here. Not nobody is safe at any time and again this works well with the narrative. I thought the framing was a little, well, what's the right word... boring. It's not his fault really as this film aspect ratio (yeah we’re going there) 2.39:1 which is the standard for modern film making. It makes it cinematic but not unique. I might be talking out my ass but I think different flicks need different aspect ratios. Check out A Ghost Story (2017) which has very interesting framing. Film science ya’ll. 1.5/2
Acting: Should I start with the good or the bad? This is the Gonger! Always the bad must go first! Portman and Issac's chemistry is off and this is a big part of the film! Some of the players seem a bit laboured, including Portman. This is a shame because this cast is friggen top grade! I say this but we can’t overlook the fact that Portman does create a full character although a little shallow. I thought Jennifer Jason was mother f*cking Leigh-git! I didn’t even know she was in this one and when she shows up on screen I almost squealed with joy! She's great and I would almost be as bold to say this is one of her best works. Leigh gets the subject matter and builds a character around it. She does get all the good lines really but why not give it to the chops of the flick! Novotny nails it too with very little screen time. I actually thought she had some sinister plan and play a bigger part at the end of the day. So the acting is a little unbalanced. Thats how it goes sometimes. 1.5/2
8/10 I’m really liking this trend of out there of grounded sci-fi. I love that Alex Garland has been leading this charge. Keep 'em coming!
Allan Stringer @Gonger_Reviews
Allan Stringer (if that's his real name) hails from the Mutara Nebula and has travelled through space and time to check out the only thing us pathetic humans have to offer: movies. Marvel at his intelligence!