Annihilation (2018): Yay! Alex Garland’s Second Film!

Before dive into my review for “Annihilation,” we have some promotional material to go over. Hey! Let me just remind you, this content is free! I’m doing this! Let me just have you know something. I’m a guy, and unfortunately, and somewhat understandably, my gender’s individuals usually can’t go at least a single second of each day without thinking about sex. Before you ask, no, I’m not promoting porn. Even though that does involve sex. What I’m promoting to you doesn’t involve that kind of sex. It instead involves what can be referred to as “BIBLICALLY *APPROVED* INTERCOURSE for the PURPOSES of PROCREATION.” Ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” is a new YouTube channel and series from a couple whose members include Genevieve and Paul. The two are currently expecting a child in upcoming months and unfortunately for both of them, their journey wasn’t as sweet as chocolate ice cream. Instead, it felt more like a rocky road. As suggested, sex plays a part in this series. Not just that, but don’t forget math, tests, costs, small wins, big losses, and all of those stinkin’ needles! The video up above specifically is their second episode, but if you are interested in seeing the other videos in this series, such as the first episode and the trailer, be sure to click the link down below to the YouTube channel for “WTIVF?.” And also be sure to subscribe or hit the notification bell to keep up on their content! Also be sure to check out their other social media pages, along with their website, also down below! Be sure to tell them that Jack Drees sent you!

WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/

WTIVF? YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILXSidkzWgwrQ5Oa1py78w/featured?disable_polymer=1

WTIVF? TWITTER: https://twitter.com/WTivF

WTIVF? INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/wtivf/

WTIVF? FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/What-The-IVF-288868031634125/

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“Annihilation” is directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later) and stars Natalie Portman (Black Swan, V For Vendetta), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle), Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok, Creed), Gina Rodriguez (Deepwater Horizon, Jane the Virgin), Tuva Novotny (Eat Pray Love, Dag), and Oscar Isaac (X-Men Apocalypse, Star Wars: The Force Awakens). This movie is about a biologist who sets up a secret expedition where the laws of nature are thrown out the window. The film is also based on a book by Jeff VanderMeer which is one of the three books in the Southern Reach trilogy. On that topic, according to Alex Garland, he didn’t really think much about making a trilogy. His focus is mainly shifted towards the first book of the same name, so I don’t think we’ll be getting any sequels to this movie in the future.

Before we go any further and dissect “Annihilation,” I just want to bring up one of the banes of my existence. And no, for all of you who don’t know grammar entirely, this has nothing to do with “Batman.” This does however, have to do with Netflix. I recently did a post called “Why I Won’t Review The Cloverfield Paradox.” In it, I explain my prior anticipation to “The Cloverfield Paradox,” and how I won’t review or even watch the movie based on something I didn’t really expect to happen. That unexpected happening by the way is the fact that the movie wouldn’t be released in theaters and instead went straight to the Netflix streaming service. I explain how they basically killed Blockbuster, a nostalgic store I adore that I will surely miss. I go on to say that the way they’re changing movie and TV watching is making certain experiences dwindled from what they could be. Not to mention, they’re also killing movie theaters, which are basically “other homes” of mine, because they think it’s a good idea to have all of their movies go straight to the platform. So I never inserted this in the post, but I’ll say it here. You know the phrase “Netflix & chill?” People nowadays know it as either an invitation to watch Netflix with someone else, or just an excuse to have sex. So I hate to kill the mood, if you know what I mean, but I might as well describe some of the scenarios I recently mentioned as “Netflix & kill.”

Before going to see this movie, I found out apparently that Netflix is apparently distributing “Annihilation” internationally (except for China). I live in the United States, meaning Netflix isn’t distributing the movie to my people. Paramount is doing said job. Let me just say, this movie is very lucky to get its own review, because if it lacked any release in theaters, or if Netflix was doing total distribution, I would have saved some time. In fact, I’m willing to bet that Alex Garland, the director of “Annihilation” might also be somewhat disappointed in what happened to this film. Just read this quote spoken by him down below:

“We made the film for cinema. I’ve got no problem with the small screen at all. The best genre piece I’ve seen in a long time was “The Handmaid’s Tale,” so I think there’s incredible potential within that context, but if you’re doing that – you make it for that and you think of it in those terms. Look… it is what it is. The film is getting a theatrical release in the States, which I’m really pleased about. One of the big pluses of Netflix is that it goes out to a lot of people and you don’t have that strange opening weekend thing where you’re wondering if anyone is going to turn up and then if they don’t, it vanishes from cinema screens in two weeks. So it’s got pluses and minuses, but from my point of view and the collective of the people who made it – [it was made] to be seen on a big screen.”

I hate to sound like a propaganda machine, but I’ll say this anyway. Netflix may have chopped this movie’s head off, but it still has a beating heart. It didn’t totally “annihilate” the film. 😉 Getting back on track, let’s talk about “Annihilation!”

Going into “Annihilation,” I was excited. That’s because I’ve seen a film from Alex Garland which released in 2015 and it was one of the most beautiful looking films of the decade. That film by the way, is “Ex Machina.” While “Ex Machina” isn’t what I’d personally call a 10/10 movie, I have to give major props to the film from a production and directorial perspective because it made me want to be a part of the movie. Heck, it won Best Achievement in Visual Effects at the Oscars! I will also say, “Ex Machina” was Alex Garland’s directorial debut! Garland’s second movie, “Annihilation,” has arrived in various territories, I didn’t know too much about it. I’ve seen a trailer for it, I knew Natalie Portman would have the starring role, I knew it was based on a book, but not much else.

Oh wait, there was one more thing, kind of going off of something I just mentioned.

As suggested, “Annihilation” is based on a book, specifically a book of the same name. The book is part of what’s known as the Southern Reach trilogy, which is named due to a secret agency which plays an important part in the overall plot. All three books were written by Jeff VanderMeer, and were met with positive verdicts.

Funny enough, all of them start with the letter “A.” So I guess if you don’t like calling the series the Southern Ranch trilogy, you can instead call it the AAA trilogy. It’s the perfect series for going out to CVS in your car with three of your friends. Their names are Albert, Alec, and Alex (AAA). You decide to go inside the CVS store, where you end up buying AAA batteries, finding three guys at the register named Aaron, Adam, and Andy (AAA), going back to your car to realize the doors are locked, you left your keys inside, so now you have to call AAA to get this situation settled. Once that’s over, you get back in your car, you’re about the leave the shopping center where CVS is, a very small one at that. It contains other shops including AT&T, Avenue, and Applebee’s (AAA). You suddenly realize, you have some time to kill, so it leads you to pulling out one of the AAA books from the back seat, you start reading it, and you remain in the parking lot going nowhere for a period of time. Oh yeah, and your friends are just questioning why you aren’t driving.

Alright, rambling’s over, let’s get serious.

Since “Annihilation” has some of the stuff it has in it, it’s easy to imagine some people are looking forward to it if they haven’t seen it. I haven’t even read the books and I was kind of stoked! Although there were people who happen to be giving it some flak before it even came out. Why is this? Well apparently, this movie has miscast its characters, and the reason why they’re miscast is because they’re not the correct ethnicity.

Let me just say, I’ve never read the books, so what I’m gathering is from random research. And the research tells me that these complainers have justifiable reasons behind their thoughts. Do I agree with them? Sure I do. It doesn’t mean I don’t like the actors playing these characters or how they perform as these characters, but it doesn’t change the fact that these mistakes are still there. Although I will say, there are two characters when it comes to this complaint. Specifically Natalie Portman’s character of Lena and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character of Dr. Ventress. Of the two characters, Portman might be the bigger problem here. Again, I like her as an actress, so I don’t see Portman herself as a problem, but I do see this casting choice as a problem. For one thing, she’s the lead role. Also, her ethnicity was revealed in the first book of the trilogy whereas the other character had hers revealed in the second book of the trilogy. When it came to the overall adaptation of this book to film. Garland was more focused towards story than character looks. And while I look for more great stories than I do correct adaptations, this was something that could have easily been altered. While I REALLY enjoyed “Annihilation,” this will subtract its score.

Onto the movie itself, I actually went to see this over a week ago, so I apologize if some of my comments come off as weak. I usually review movies right after I see them depending on the case, but this wasn’t one of them. My Oscar recap was more important. This movie starts off in a small room with a conversation between Natalie Portman and Benedict Wong, and I knew that part of the movie was going to take place there. The overall setting there set the tone for what’s to come. We occasionally cut back and forth between that and some plot-unfolding events of the film. And with all that put together, the tone doesn’t really ever feel ruined. There’s a lot of cutting back and forth, but it doesn’t feel all jumbled together like a pizza with topping options so endless it has toppings like TNT, screws, and LEGO bricks. In other words, this movie’s edited competently and the tone doesn’t feel messed up.

I’ll mention once more, one of the biggest positives I can give to Alex Garland’s directorial debut, “Ex Machina,” is how beautiful-looking the movie is. The movie won Best Visual Effects at the Oscars and it’s easy to see why. Plus, all the scenery might make you feel like you’re on an exotic getaway and you’re on a nature walk. Oh yeah, and robots are there too! Much like “Ex Machina,” this movie has you feeling as if you’re entering a majestic new world. Once all the scientists are together on their journey, they enter an anomaly known as the shimmer. Inside, it can simply just be described as wondrously gorgeous. But not all of it is pretty.

“Annihilation,” at its core, is a sci-fi film. Although it has some elements of horror in there as well. This movie to my personal surprise, features one of the more terrifying scenes I’ve seen in a science fiction film. If you’ve seen the trailer, you may remember that wolf with the sharp teeth, holy s*it!

I also have to talk about the ending. And without spoiling anything, I’ll tell you all upfront. This is one of the best endings I’ve seen this decade. Why do I love sci-fi so much? Well, there’s many reasons that can qualify as an answer to that question for me, but one thing I’ve noticed is how many of those movies have endings that I just often look back on. This movie is no exception. I mentioned in my post titled “Annihilation (2018): NOT Now In Theaters Everywhere” that “Annihilation” originator Jeff VanderMeer gave praise towards this film’s ending and even said in some ways, the movie might actually be better than his own book. That’s a much better reaction than the one given by Paramount financier David Ellison, who thought the film was apparently too complicated for some minds! By the way, f*ck David Ellison. You can clearly tell I’m siding with VanderMeer in this circumstance. The ending overall felt like I was watching “2001: A Space Odyssey.” I can’t talk much about it, but given some of the situations that happen in this film and when you piece it all together. This film feels like “Arrival,” “Jurassic Park,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” all meshed together in one wonderful package. One more thing about the ending, the music in that moment can only be described as one word, and that’s orgasmic.

Moving onto characters, let’s talk about Natalie Portman’s character of Lena. While I did mention before that Lena is not entirely cast the way that a good number of people think she should be, I’ll add, Portman did a fine job here. I was able to buy her as a biologist. Every single frame I was convinced that she could possibly have a shot at becoming a professor at Princeton. Her husband, Kane, played by Oscar Isaac, also delivers an excellent performance.

All of the characters in this film overall seem to have no qualities that I hate about them, whether they’re in the category of annoying, off-putting, or so hatable because they killed someone you love so much that they must get similar treatment. They all seem to be redeemable and I really think they all did their role quite well. I will admit, some of this movie is kind of dwindling on me. And it’s not because I didn’t like the movie. I thought it was great! I’ll say once again, it’s been over a week since I saw this, and other things mattered more to me than this review. No offense to “Annihilation” and its crew.

One last thing I’ll mention is this. I said already that if you combine “Arrival,” “Jurassic Park,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey,” you might as well get this movie. You might also say that if you combine JUST A HINT of “Ghostbusters,” you get this film too. Just look at this shot and tell me otherwise!

In the end, “Annihilation” is certainly one of those films that I’m gonna have to watch again, and it’s also one of those films that I want to talk about with others for years to come. Is this movie perfect? I wouldn’t say so. I’ve already gone over some minor casting issues that are somewhat understandable after doing some research, but are still there regardless. I must say though, Alex Garland, you’ve done it again! I’m going to give “Annihilation” an 8/10! By the way, if you can’t get this in theaters in your area, chances are you may have this movie available to you now on Netflix. It actually released on the Netflix platform in several areas a day ago, so go watch it if you haven’t already! I don’t use Netflix, but I’ve talked enough about that. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’ll have a review up for “Mission: Impossible” starring Tom Cruise, which will kick off my “Mission: Impossible” review series in preparation for “Mission: Impossible: Fallout.” Also, for my next movie to see in theaters, I just realized how many options I have. I want to go see “Game Night,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” (can’t believe I’m saying that) “Gringo,” “Red Sparrow,” and you’ve even got “Tomb Raider” coming out next weekend. I don’t know if I’ll catch a movie this weekend, but only time will tell. If you need some more content to hold yourself over, be sure to check out my recap for the 90th Academy Awards, where I talk about “four men and Greta Gerwig,” a jet ski, and what could be regarded one of the of the most well deserved Academy Award wins of all time. If you want to check that out, click the box down below, and will take you to the post! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, have you seen “Annihilation?” What are your thoughts? What did you think about the ending? Also, if you saw it, how did you see it? Leave that info down below as a way of annihilating some time! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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