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Annihilation Review – A Metaphor

,Annihilation (2018)

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Directed By: Alex Garland

Cast: Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny

Language: English

Annihilation is not a masala entertainer but nevertheless, everyone can relate with this movie. Annihilation is the type of movie which everyone dissects and discusses after its finished. And after watching, everybody interprets it differently. It deals with sensitive issues like depression, grief, guilt and self destruction in a strange narration.

Annihilation begins with the interrogation of Dr. Lena (Natalie Portman), a biologist and former soldier. She and her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) are the only ones who have been back from the “shimmer”. For majority of questions on shimmer she has only one answer : ” I don’t know”. The movie then goes into a flashback where Kane, a soldier has gone inside the shimmer and long been presumed dead. But, he comes back changed (well not literally). He becomes ill suddenly and is dying each day. To find answers and to assuage the guilt of cheating on him she volunteers to go into shimmer which is expanding each day. Please discover the details of the shimmer by watching this masterpiece.

A team comprising of five women scientists is chosen . Dr Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a psychologist serves as lead followed by Anya Thorensen (Gina Rodriguez), a paramedic, Josie Radek (Tessa Thompson), a physicist, Cass Sheppard (Tuva Novotny), a geomorphologist  and Dr. Lena. The idea is to reach the light house from where it all started. Inside the shimmer GPS doesn’t work, they forget extensive periods of time and a mutated alligator attacks Josie. And they also realize that they themselves are undergoing a rapid transformation. What happens there and how Lena and Kane came out forms the rest of the story.

Annihilation is not a horror movie but there is a tension which at times is overwhelming. There is loads of terror too- some of the beasts are simply horrific. But Annihilation has a pattern: in every major scene, a quick clip and a flashback give out just the enough information about it while intriguing us about the next scene. You’ll probably call me mental if I tell you that one of the most horrific scene was discovering that someone was slowly changed to a plant full of beautiful flowers. Even the beauty in the movie in some of the scenes are horrifying!

The movie is about self destruction, the shimmer is earth’s cancer and her way to fight back through mutations. It is about achieving entropy by various ways. We all have the propensity to destroy ourselves. When Lena enters the shimmer she becomes part of the process and gets sucked into the destruction. The reflection or the double is in fact her which mimics Dr.Lena. It tries to stop her from leaving the hole. It symbolizes our human nature- when we have a sudden awakening about the wrong and we have to fight ourselves to right the wrong. Other women with Lena are also broken and thus everyone has a reason to venture inside the shimmer. The shimmer is the eventuality of destruction where some choose to accept it while some fight it.

One can also interpret Annihilation as the destruction and changes that happen when an individual gets cancer. A mutation in itself – extrapolated over a whole geographical area. And as I said before each one can interpret Annihilation differently and the ambiguous nature of the movie fuels our imagination.

As per the performances I liked Tessa Thompson and Natalie Portman. I certainly understand the apprehension of the producers to release this movie on Netflix rather than on big screen. Audience’s reception of “Mother” would have cast a huge doubt in the minds of producers.

At the end I would like you all to watch the movie and more importantly I would like to hear from you what you understood or how you interpreted Annihilation. My better half’s interpretation of the movie is you should not go near an abandoned light house! Face Palm!

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