Fierce Film – ‘Annihilation’
Depicting killer alien mind hacks and cool quantum fields, Alex Garland’s genre-splicing new film is totally amazing!
Alex Garland’s Annihilation is an extreme mutation of a film. A metaphysical, psychological and ecological tour de force, the scenes and sounds will alter your brain chemistry and transmogrify your mindset. This film is on par with Ex Machina, Alex’s next level, spine-tingling sci-fi masterpiece from 2015.
In the film a meteorite crashes into Florida’s coastline and an awesome aura emerges, enveloping the swampy surroundings in an iridescent force field which looks like a wobbly wall of sparkling soap suds and prismatic textures. The area has been designated ‘the shimmer’ and is treated like a kind of super secretive Area 51 (technically called ‘Area X’). The whole place behaves like a transcendental spacetime warp or singularity, complete with mutant doppelgangers, wild pathogens, spontaneously generated Uroborus tattoos (a snake eating its own tail for eternity) and self-destructive impulses.
No one knows the true nature of the shimmer. Every surveillance drone, spec-op soldier and scientist who has been deployed into the monolithic membrane has not re-emerged, except for one tough, taciturn grunt called Kane (played by the awesome Oscar Isaac) who has been mentally and physically wrecked by his experiences. His wife Lina (played by the perfectly sexy Natalie Portman) is a biology professor at Johns Hopkins and a seasoned army combat vet. Despite the inordinate risk, she immediately volunteers to join an all-girl recon team and go into the effervescence. The other members of her squad, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez and Tuva Novotny, are similarly well-qualified and ready for anything that comes their way. Until it does.
Inside the shimmer, the team treks through a verdant fairy-tale forest where the flora and fauna are mutating in weird and wonderful ways: deer’s antlers have sprouted flowers, trees are fashioned in the shape of human silhouettes, beautiful artisanal briar patches abound, and there are ominous beasts that have undergone impossible biological anomalies. The underlying reason for all this freaky phenomena is that the meteor has unleashed an inexplicable and trippy alien prism that refracts light, radio waves and the DNA of everything in it, including plants, animals and human consciousness. DNA, matter and quantum energy is irreversibly scrambled and recombined resulting in new genetic traits and otherwordly hybridity (look up Hox genes). Predators there even absorb and assimilate the final emotions of their prey, echoing weird sound bites and shrill cries of their agonizing victims. Everything in the shimmer is fused into a mutualistic symbiosis.
Pulsating with shocking and sublime visuals and laced with cryptic clues, the shimmer is a totally surreal, genetically modified mindfield peppered with the prettiest installations and gnarliest art forms of any psychedelic wonderland we’ve seen since Prometheus or The Abyss.
The film teems with personal terror, death, guilt, mesmerizing beauty, complex biology and ample room for interpretive analysis. It is a deeply philosophical film that questions the iffy stability of every day life and highlights our common propensity to self-destruct. The director said he was exploring the nature of uncertainty and the weird ways we confront the unknown. Go see Annihilation asap and get blown away.
Images Paramount Pictures + Netflix
VIVISXN MEDIA – Art + Philosophy + Tech + Film