Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

#51 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:31 am

Arrival discussion moved here.

moreorless
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Re: Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

#52 Post by moreorless » Fri Oct 05, 2018 2:35 am

Lost Highway wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:46 am
Watching acclaimed films in the social media age has so much to do with managing expectations. I find critics overreact to something which is ambitious even if the film fails to live up to those ambitions. Annihilation should have been right in my wheelhouse, but I thought it was an intriguing concept and some lovely visuals in the service of a Heap of Dumb, cloaked by a type of ambiguity which doesn't fool anybody who is familiar with sci-fi of the mind bending sort.

The Brownie points this aims for by featuring an all female team have to be immediately deducted for having them act Alien Covenant-levels of stupid throughout. The only known survivor returning from The Shimmer with all the signs of an infection, but lets send a team of scientists in there without hazmat suits anyway ! I'm delighted by the recent career resurgence of Jennifer Jason Leigh, but she may just play the worst, most irresponsible team leader ever. The end goes for
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a familiar doppelganger/body snatcher ending and while the substitutes may not actually be evil, there isn't much to ponder about.
With its conventional flashback structure, the film also isn't stylistically distinctive in the way a superior genre mind bender like Under the Skin or Upstream Color were. Rather than Stalker, the film this reminds me the most of is Gareth Edward's Monsters, which also has characters head into a forbidden zone overrun with alien/mutating flora and fauna, but that film was unusual in the way it treated its sci-fi/horror premise along along the lines of a Linklater-style walking-and-talking romance. I didn't hate the film and may give it another watch with lowered exectations but it confirms my suspicion that Alex Garland maybe isn't all that. The two films he wrote for Danny Boyle in particular have serious last act problems.

I thought both The Ritual and Ravenous are better direct-to-Netflix genre movies than this is. Neither has the pretensions of Annihilation, Ravenous essentially being a bog standard zombie movie at heart, but as a piece of film making I found it superior to this.
I would say personally that I think Garland maybe strayed too far from his strengths with this film looking to follow someone like Glazer in an obvious Stalker like plot although I think in some respect the result is similar to Upstream Colour that I though was similarly empty cinema, although Curruth put a lot more effort into being obtuse to hide that IMHO.

Honestly it did feel like it would have been better directed by Boyle along the lines of Sunshine or 28 Days Latter as a more conventional horror thriller rather than having pretensions at following something like Under The Skin. I would say the elements that follow that most closely such as the bear attack are clearly the most successful where as elsewhere the film verges on self parody, I'm almost expecting French and Sanders to walk into scenes along the lines of those Bergman parodies they did.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

#53 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:10 pm

Here's an excellent and clearly expressed reading of the basic thematic thrust of the movie, one different (and probably more persuasive) than my own above. Worth the 20 minutes.

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Re: Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

#54 Post by bunuelian » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:43 pm

I finally caught up with this one and enjoyed it despite its flaws. My sister-in-law, who mostly prefers Hallmark Channel and the occasional super hero movie, enjoyed it "even though it's slow." I suggested she watch Stalker next.
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The creature that steals the voice of the dead woman is directly lifted from Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, so much so that I take it as an homage. In Wolfe's novel the creature is more disturbing and more interesting (of course, it's Wolfe).

Of all the glaring holes, the one that frustrated me the most was the way memory dilation ceased to matter after its initial reveal. If memory and perception are so distorted here, why not use it to its full effect?

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Reverend Drewcifer
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Re: Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

#55 Post by Reverend Drewcifer » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:52 pm

I remain unconvinced despite all the praise. JJL's performance is a career-worst.

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tenia
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Re: Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

#56 Post by tenia » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:41 pm

I was very mixed too. It's not bad, but it's certainly not very good either. It has lots of pacing issues, especially, and the characters (and part of the cast) are far from being all enticing. It's partly helping and not helping that the 2nd half feels like a rehash of Sunshine (helping because I love Sunshine, not helping because it feels already seen).
Vastly dispensable.

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Reverend Drewcifer
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Re: Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

#57 Post by Reverend Drewcifer » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:38 pm

My first viewing was on a night where I took an Ambien and couldn't get to sleep, which tends to distort reality. The movie played sluggishly, and its story and characters didn't track. I then decided that a re-watch was necessary with a clearer head. The movie played sluggishly, and its story and characters didn't track.

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Murdoch
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Re: Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

#58 Post by Murdoch » Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:35 pm

I found it to be absolutely mesmerizing by the end. While it's a slow build, that final act is something to behold. The last 30 minutes I must have watched on repeat three times over.

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Re: Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

#59 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:12 pm

I could see some of the twists come a mile away in this, but I really liked it. Portman and Leigh are very good, even when they hold up some slack from the other three actresses who in their own ways come off a little too like horror-movie cliches. The terror is somehow less blunt than I thought it was in Ex Machina, but is all better for it for me. And it may just be me but I didn't really find that bear too scary at all, even with the voice.

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Boosmahn
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Re: Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

#60 Post by Boosmahn » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:18 pm

I agree with Murdoch about the ending, it's without a doubt the best part of the film. The first "recording scene" was memorable as well, but not for the most pleasant reasons. (Though I did find it ridiculous that the smartest member of their team was never going to go at all originally. Leigh was a horrible team leader.)

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misterjunior
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Re: Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

#61 Post by misterjunior » Mon Sep 16, 2019 12:44 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:10 pm
Here's an excellent and clearly expressed reading of the basic thematic thrust of the movie, one different (and probably more persuasive) than my own above. Worth the 20 minutes.
Ah, that video brilliantly captures much of what I felt about this one. I really don't even see where those criticizing the film/Garland for trying to be 2001 with labored attempts at inscrutability/ambiguity (paraphrasing) are coming from, because the film seems to me to almost go out of its way to make its subtext text. I don't think it's a flawless film, by any means, but it's one of the best I've seen in recent years and has stuck with me in a way that few newer movies ever do, to the point where I actually watched it twice in three days and then watched scenes from it another few times. I think the characters are best understood as archetypes rather than as attempts at being fully realized, fleshed-out people, because I believe the point is to examine the ways in which people react to grief/heartbreak/pain and the ways in which we move toward self-destruction, and each woman's fate is an example of how those approaches culminate. The ending is less an attempt at ambiguous mind-blowing and more an illustration of the way these people have been changed by their experiences and knowledge of each other's experiences and will, perhaps, form a new and stronger bond from which to move forward.

I also really, really loved the score/soundtrack for this one (including the use of CSN, one of my favorite groups)-- in particular the music from the Lighthouse section of the film.

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