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from the writer-director debut of ex machina, alex garland comes his second feature film, annihilation, a sci-fi movie adapted (more like inspired) from the same name novel that tackles the theme of self-destruction nature of human amidst the world of refraction and a bunch of lost cause wandering deeper into shimmer.
the movie starts out with a few clumsy narrative moments (lecture halls in particular, but also how the expedition gets approved without more protective precaution went beyond me) but it is compelling enough to follow it through.
visually, it is lysergic and the myriad of colors really refracts the theme. there are some interesting visual choices being made, while hardly subtle, it created a few fascinating subtexts or just overall echoing the themes. there is few things about lighting in the scene by the balcony outside of the psychiatrist office, the overexposure makes the whole outside layer of shimmer looks washed out and ugly. the cgi of a certain key creature does look too stand out.
story-wise however, there is so many ways to actually interpret the few final key scenes. unlike previous parts of the movie, it gets more and more ambiguous deeper into the shimmer. so many nuanced in dialogues and the implied meanings. some see the movie as an allegory to cancer, but i definitely see it as a tragic tale of love.
the story structure while not chronologically ordered, quick edit to flashbacks and flashforwards, it does serve its narrative piece well enough. in a sense it's a very linear movie. interesting allusion can be seen too, namely the book lena was reading in one of the flashback.
i can see the similarity with stalker but it was too sparse to actually relate them together, but i definitely see more of cronenberg's obsession with body horror and the overall eldritch atmosphere with the ending that strikes some resemblance with under the skin. seeing how it later defies lovecraftian horror is a good surprise too.
i really like annihilation as a whole, there are many flaws from narrative to some technical oddities, but this ambitious sci-fi entry definitely deserved more than the buzz it is currently receiving now. it may not be for everyone, but the way it handles its thematic moments are certainly strong.
a good watch and i can definitely see myself revisiting it again.
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