Annihilation is a movie that I’ve wanted to see every since it was released–however, I could tell that, while Sci-Fi, it was not one that falls within my preferred genre of Action Sci-Fi, or Space Opera. It is generally described as an “idea” Science Fiction movie, meaning that the ideas and concepts are what takes precedence. In my experience, I find that while there is some character development and some light action, generally speaking, they tend to be on the slower side in terms of narrative flow. Not complaining, just an observation–unless it is farce, I generally like all types of Sci-Fi.
So, this movie was directed by Alex Garland, and he has a visually striking style. The problem is, based on the movie’s narrative, I’m not sure yet whether I find his style to my liking. I’ve tried several times to watch his other Sci-Fi movie, Ex Machina, but I only have managed to get through about half an hour so far (probably just going to have to watch it in half-hour “spurts”). However, while I appreciate his style, it was hard going to try to get through the movie. I knew that if I stopped at any point, I probably would not come back to it and it would be another recent Sci-Fi movie that I abandoned mid-stream (Inception and Looper), so I just plugged on through. I don’t think Alex Garland’s narrative style works for me . . . his visual style is arresting and very distinctive, but I’m not sure that story-telling-wise, that I like the way the narrative connections come together.
Science Fiction of “Ideas”
Yes, Sci-Fi is a genre of ideas and is driven by great ideas. The problem is that one should also really focus on characters and characterization and setting. The problem that occurs is that while their are characters in peril and/or crisis, we are often held at a distance from these characters (especially in Annihilation) and it is hard to form a bond with the characters. While I’m not the best with names in real life, I’m usually pretty good with character’s names, yet I’m struggling to remember the names of the major characters and I just saw the movie 3 or 4 days ago. I remember them, what their actors looked like, what occupation/role they fulfilled, but I don’t remember them as characters and I think this is where the movie ultimately failed for me. Even the ending has a twist (that I won’t spoil) that changes the way the characters might be perceived at the end, but because I didn’t really care about the characters, the ending didn’t work for me because I just didn’t care. The story, as presented, focused too much on the visual effects and the mystery of the “Shimmer” and not enough on the characterization and why I should care. Even the mystery of the Shimmer, while sufficiently explained during the course of the film, didn’t lead to a moment of Epiphany for the main character, but was rather presented as simply a random, if extraordinary event, that was ultimately rendered moot by the main character’s actions during the story. As much as critics dislike The Cloverfield Paradox, I feel that ultimately, while Annihilation is a movie with better special effects and better overall logical storytelling plot points, I find that I enjoyed The Cloverfield Paradox more because I could understand and get behind the characters and their motives. In Annihilation, there was simply too much distance between the viewers and the characters.y
Overrall Grade: C
For a .99 rental, it was at least worth seeing, but I’m glad that I did not pay full theatrical price to see it. Too much focus on the visuals and the ideas behind the visuals and not enough on characterization really dampened my enjoyment of the movie. It also shows some graphic content with the deaths of a couple characters (I guess the director wanted to show the the brutality of the world–but it came off, to me, as unnecessary and exploitative–violence for violence sake and it pulled me out of the narrative when those two scenes occurred.
- Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
- Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
- Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1, Currently on Script Page 28)