Annihilation is now streaming on Netflix. This Alex Garland film, starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and Oscar Isaac, is based on a book of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. This film was released in the United States on February 23, and in other markets, it was released by Netflix yesterday. Before you rush to watch it, you might want to be briefed on some important things about this film. Here are five things you should know before watching Annihilation.
What is Annihilation about?
Annihilation is about a mysterious quarantined zone which is full of creatures and landscapes that are mutating due to some alien phenomena. The zone is surrounded by a shimmering electromagnetic field and it is thus called the Shimmer. The zone is getting larger and larger and the US government believes that it would one day surround the whole world if not stopped. This film has elements of science fiction, horror and mystery.
What is the significance of the title?
Extra-terrestrials are usually a threat in science-fiction. Here, too, it appears to be the case. The quarantined zone, that was once limited to a lighthouse, has now spread to a huge area. And one day, it may surround the entire world, resulting in the annihilation of every life-form on earth.
Who are the characters in Annihilation?
Natalie Portman’s character is part of the team that is sent on an investigation mission to this zone from where none have returned. Oscar Isaac plays her husband. In Portman’s team are characters played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok) and Tuva Novotny. Most of the film consists of these characters investigating things inside the Shimmer. The premise is interesting, if not wholly original.
How is the critical reception of Annihilation?
Since Annihilation was already released in the US, there are reviews available on every US publication. The film holds a 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus reads, “Annihilation backs up its sci-fi visual wonders and visceral genre thrills with an impressively ambitious — and surprisingly strange — exploration of challenging themes that should leave audiences pondering long after the end credits roll.”
What is the visual significance of this film?
Yes, the visuals are a huge part of this film, though we in India will not be able to see this film on the big screen. As already mentioned, the Shimmer is full of life-forms that are mutating. Trailers suggest that they somehow, for want of a better word, change. They change appearances, colour, hue and perhaps size. This is why we encounter albino deer, a crocodile with huge red splotches, and what looks like a bear attacking the team from the darkness. All this makes for a film with huge visual potential. In most reviews, cinematography and art design have been praised by critics, so this is another thing this film seems to have done right.