Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
Bravery / Courage / Self-sacrifice
What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer
Are we alone in the universe? Answer
Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer
Questions and answers about the origin of life
Natalie Portman … Lena
Benedict Wong … Lomax
Sonoya Mizuno … Humanoid / Katie (Med Student)
David Gyasi … Daniel
Oscar Isaac … Kane
John Schwab … Paramedic
Jennifer Jason Leigh … Dr. Ventress
Gina Rodriguez … Anya Thorensen
Tuva Novotny … Cass Sheppard
Tessa Thompson … Josie Radek
Sammy Hayman … Mayer
Josh Danford … Shelley
Kristen Mcgarrit … Lena Double
|Director||Alex Garland—“Ex Machina” (2015), “28 Days Later…” (2002), “Dredd” (2012)|
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“One way in. No way out.”
Lena is one of the best biologists in the business. She studied and currently teaches biology to medical students at John Hopkins University. Prior to becoming a biologist, she served for several years in the U.S. Army. For Lena, however, things have become rather quiet, lonely, and, to be honest, upsetting. You see, Lena was once married to a former soldier she served with, Kane. However, while Lena returned home, Kane never did, and, after about a year of making phone call after phone call, eventually Lena gave up hope and considered him KIA (killed in action).
One night, however, as Lena is repainting the bedroom, someone walks up behind her and to her surprise it’s Kane. When asked about his whereabouts for the past year, Kane can’t remember much of anything, just that he was probably sent on some mission but that after he was deployed he remembers nothing else. As he tries to reason with Lena, he starts hemorrhaging and vomitting blood, Lena rides with him in an ambulance to the hospital… that is until Lena and Kane are abducted and sedated by governments officials while en route.
When Lena wakes up, she learns that she is at a government base camp located a few miles outside of an extraterrestrial site known as The Shimmer, a prism of light that covers an entire forested area. The Shimmer has been around for 30 years, unbeknownst to the public, and many military reconnaissance teams have been sent in to retrieve information from the main source inside The Shimmer, the Lighthouse, but those who have gone in have never come out. Kane, having served on one of The Shimmer missions, returned, but is dying. Lena is told that this is on account of what occurred during his mission.
Lena volunteers to go with the next team, a group of female scientists, inside The Shimmer to reach the Lighthouse and hopefully find answers to The Shimmer’s purpose and, with any luck, a way to save Kane.
“Annihilation” is unlike any other sci-fi film I have seen in a long time. The last time, I was this intrigued with a sci-fi film was with the film “Arrival.” While the trailers, as some have pointed out, may have marketed this picture as a horror movie, the horror is not the focus. If I were to categorize this film, it would be along the lines of a very well made but very violent and frightening thriller.
Critics have panned the pacing of the film as one of its weakest elements, as it is slow, and viewers are required to be patient as the story develops. However, I find that the slow pacing was a deliberate choice made by the director to build the suspense and sense of unease, which strengthens the film as a whole, but also as a means to sit back and actually enjoy the story.
What really impressed me, lastly, was the setting provided by the film’s visual effects. In the story, The Shimmer has “evolved” or created new life in that area, and what the audience witnesses are beautiful, unknown species of flowers, vibrant plant life, and if you look close enough, hints of The Shimmer’s mixed colors on the rest of the scenery. The CGI used in the creation of the new species that exist within The Shimmer are also breathtaking. To be honest, I felt as if I was watching the film “Avatar.”
“Annihilation” has some objectionable content, much of it unnecessary, that viewers should be advised of before deciding whether to view this film. ***Please be aware that the content below contains graphic descriptions. Reader discretion is strongly advised***
Violence: Extreme. The violence that occurs in the film is extremely graphic in nature (and this is NOT a complete list of everything). The first is the scene where Kane is hemorrhaging blood inside the ambulance. Inside The Shimmer, a character is grabbed and dragged underwater. In another scene, we watch a character graphically cut open another person’s stomach on camera, and we witness a living creature moving around inside him. In another scene, a character, named Shephard, is attacked by a bear and dragged off screen. When Lena recovers the woman’s body later, her neck and parts of her chest have been ripped to shreds, and she is covered in blood. One character is rifle-butted in the head. Another character is mauled to death by one of The Shimmer creatures, and we witness her mangled body and watch her jaw rip off. A few characters are gagged and tied to chairs. There are moments of gunfire, as well as a scene in which we witness a character blow themselves.
Foul Language: Heavy. F**k (14), m***er-f**ker (1), sh*t (13), B.S. (1), b*tch (12), d**n (2), hell (2), and Jesus’ name is used in vain once, plus God and Oh God.
Sex/Nudity: Lena and Kane are seen in bed together, and we witness Lena is a short shirt and panties. We later witness Lena, in two instances, having sex, completely nude from behind, with another co-worker (Lena is on top, and we can hear accompanying sounds).
Evolutionism/Creationism Theme: Please be aware that, at a few points in the film, the underlying themes of Evolutionism, the origins and purpose of life, are discussed in depth, and God is not mentioned in any of these scenes. However, Lena claims that God can make mistakes, and that if it weren’t for a biological mistake of His regarding our cells, we’d be immortal.
As I mentioned, Evolutionism seems to be a surrounding theme in parts of the film. The danger is that Evolutionism claims that God is not the grand designer of the universe, that he is flawed and his plans are not perfect. In other words, he is not the God of the Bible. Secular Humanists further claim that God does not even exist.
We witness some of this Evolutionary them inside The Shimmer, in Lena’s perspective, through the creation of all various wildlife and plants from a extraterrestrial force (see Christian Answers regarding themes on extra-terrestrials). In reality, God is the Ultimate Designer, the Creator of the universe, and He does NOT make mistakes. He has made us, his children, in his own image and pre-destined us for His purpose.
You alone are the LORD You have made the heavens,
The heaven of heavens with all their host,
The earth and all that is on it,
The seas and all that is in them
You give life to all of them
And the heavenly host bows down before You. —Nehemiah 9:6
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. —Genesis 1:27
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. –Ephesians 2:10
Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. –Job 10: 9-12
“Annihilation” is a science fiction masterpiece from start to finish. If it weren’t for the constant barrage of extremely graphic violence (even a day later, as other critics have mentioned, there are images I can’t get out of my head), plus the foul language and nudity to contend with. Cinematically it has very few flaws. As it stands, though, I cannot in good conscience recommend it to Christians, and please do the right thing and leave teenagers and children at home as the MPA recommends. If ignore my recommendation and decide to see this, my advice is this… don’t forget that this movie is very gross and gory, don’t buy anything at the concession stand.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.