Starring Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Oscar Isaac
Directed by Alex Garland
A meteorite slams into an unspecified part of the USA, turning a plot of coastal land into a growing, living biosphere covered with a shimmering layer of protoplasm.
Natalie Portman plays a biologist leading an all-female expedition (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny and Tessa Thompson) to investigate this bizarre occurrence. Her crew is the latest of many reconnaissance teams sent into ‘Area X’.
The thing is, no one has ever returned — okay, except one, the good scientist’s Special Forces soldier husband (Oscar Isaac — yes, nerds, there are two Star Wars alums). Inside the dome, the women experience memory lapses and psychotic outbursts (Rodriguez losing her shit is a sight to behold), and encounter weird interspecies mutations (an alligator with shark teeth, anyone?).
Annihilation (or ‘Alien Nation’, if you say it really slow), out now on Netflix, is adapted by writer-director Alex Garland from Jeff VanderMeer’s award-winning 2014 novel. But as the movie progresses, you can also spot the DNA of Predator, Jurassic Park, The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Talk about interspecies mutation.
While it has startling moments of suspense and gore, it isn’t as compelling as Garland’s robot-gone-awry directorial debut Ex Machina. I just wish there was more to the story than just trippy visuals, which I’m pretty sure would be more impressive if projected on the big screen. (***)