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DOPE Review | Annihilation

Natalie Portman Journeys into Sci-Fi Horror


  • Release date: February 23, 2018
  • Directed by: Alex Garland
  • Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Oscar Isaac
  • Rating: R
  • Run time: 1 hr 55 min

The genre of “Sci-Fi Horror” has been one of my favorites over the years. My love affair with these films started with Alien, Ridley Scott’s beautiful play on the tension from the unknown that worked as a perfect exploitation of viewers’ fears.

Enter the newest member of this film genre: Annihilation. Director Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later) follows in the footsteps of his previous films and takes the audience through a tense maze of understanding the relentless obstacle his characters must face. In Annihilation, Garland’s “monster” is that of The Shimmer, an ever-expanding alien enclave of sorts that formed on earth from a crashing meteorite. The Shimmer has begun to engulf a large radius of land, which has government agencies gravely concerned for the future of the planet.

Groups of military personnel have entered The Shimmer, never to be seen again. Natalie Portman, who plays the lead role of Lena, lost her husband (Oscar Isaac) to a covert military mission. She learns he was part of a group that entered The Shimmer when he dramatically shows up at her doorstep after a year of radio silence.

Isaac’s inability to recollect anything from his time spent in The Shimmer, along with his sudden life-threatening illness, forces Lena to seek answers. She is taken to a government compound just a short distance from The Shimmer, where she confides with officials that she wants to be a part of the next expedition inside this mysterious world to find answers.

She is joined by an all-female-led group of specialists in various fields, played by Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tuva Novotny. They must traverse the strange new world, one that is both beautiful and terrifying.

Lena quickly learns the terrain and all its lifeforms have begun taking on a form of biological restructuring, resulting in mutations impossible in our world but seemingly at home within this alien landscape. She and her team quickly learn they, too, are susceptible to mutation as the days pass and they get closer to the epicenter of The Shimmer, where they seek to unlock the cause of this strange phenomenon.

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"DOPE" Rating

Overall - 7


On a scale of 1 to 10-1 being oregano, and 10 being top-shelf kush—we give Annihilation a 7. Annihilation takes its viewers through a true sci-fi horror journey with some authentically brilliant, white-knuckle-tense moments. But there is a lot left to answer after the credits roll. The film tackles some big ideas, but misses in other areas. Annihilation most likely won't reach the ranks of Alien or other titans of this genre, but it makes an honest effort to find a spot in your mind and exploit your fear of the unknown.

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