Annihilation ★★

A generous two stars for an utterly disappointing adaptation that only serviced as mild entertainment to me because I read the source material and even then it is a stretch to say I was entertained. Garland’s attempt to sell a deep, thought-provoking thriller to Paramount was obviously met with “okay how about we do that, but with monsters!?” The blend does not work and instead we are given the potential of a great film mixed with gruesome action sequences. 

An attempt at character development is made, but none of it seems to flesh out in the actual advancement of the plot. Five characters enter “The Shimmer,” (a dumb name coined for the movie that had no place in the book and rightly so) and despite all of them having strengths (psychologist, doctor, some sort of magnetic energy expert(???)) only one, Natalie Portman’s character, actually knows or does anything. Portman’s Lena is a specialist in the mutation of cancer cells but lucky for us she is also an expert in anything the movie needs her to be.  

If the plot is bad, there is no word for the convoluted climax. If they were going for some sort of mind-bending “2001: A Space Odyssey” moment they only got the “odd” part right. It was pretentious and considering the rest of the movie was dumbed down, this all felt a little contrived.

Don’t get me started on the strange guitar that twanged at random points throughout, completely removing the audience from the eerie ambiance of the SHIMMAH. I’m pretty sure the twanging correlated to something but won’t spoil what I think it is, and even if that is true what an awful sound cue. You couldn’t have piped in some “Inception” bwonging instead?

Garland hit a homerun with Ex Machina. Here, he takes an extraordinary trilogy and boils it down to a paint by numbers mystery box thriller devoid of emotion and lacking in almost every catagory save for the exemplory visuals. Basically a ground out. Not a double play though because the movie was so far off from the book that it doesn’t take away from Vandermeer’s masterpiece.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad at the movie for not being a word for word adaptation of the book. I’m mad at the movie for not being good.

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